Clearwater and St Petersburg are twin cities on Tampa Bay. With their liberal vibes and sunny climes, they attract a mix of eager Florida holidaymakers. Clearwater Beach is oft-cited as one of the best beaches in Florida – if not the States – and St Pete beach isn’t far behind. St Petersburg earned its name during a coin toss between the two founders, but you won’t be taking any gambles by visiting here. This fantastic city wins hearts year after year. It also hosts Florida’s biggest Pride Festival in summer, and its fantastic Dalí Museum houses the biggest collection of the Surrealist’s art outside of Europe.
The clue is in the name: Sandpearl Resort is right on the sand – and it's one of the best Clearwater Beach hotels.
For a great beach: Sandpearl Resort
In an area that’s full of beachside hotels, Sandpearl really does have one of the best locations.
The lowdown: The clue is in the name: Sandpearl Resort is right on the sand – and it's one of the best Clearwater Beach hotels. With such a beautiful stretch of private beach to call its own, it’s no wonder that the resort has an environmental conscience: it’s eco-friendly and every activity revels in the natural surroundings and stunning location. Along the Gulf Coast, every sunset in these beautiful environs is an event. At Sandpearl, an old bell is rung the moment the sun disappears below the horizon. Afterwards, there’s no better spot to spend the evening than the tiki bar right on the beach. Like all hotels worth their salt in Clearwater, there’s a firepit on the sand next to the bar where you can roast marshmallows and prepare an evening feast of s’mores. Later on, if you find yourself in the hotel’s swanky Caretta Lounge, be sure to order the signature Sandpearl cocktail, with rum, fresh orange juice and a splash of lime.
Insider’s tip… Look out for ‘dive in’ movies in the zero-entry pool, which are available seasonally. Just don’t watch Jaws.
For families: Sirata Beach Resort
The lowdown: You’ll find great value at the three-star Sirata Beach Resort on St Pete Beach. Having undergone renovations in 2018, it’s looking fresh-faced and light on its feet. There are three pools and a splash area for kids. Plus, you couldn’t really be closer to the beach – and this sandy stretch is as lovely as anywhere on the coast. There are three places to eat at Sirata, including Rum Runners, which is right on the beach and has a fire pit (any hotel worth its salt in Florida ought to have a good fire pit). You can also dine at the classy Compass Grille, when you want to put on a shirt. The resort fee gives you access to bikes and parking – as well as discounts on water sports. Once you’ve returned from a jaunt on a jetski, the real water sports begin: back at the hotel pool there are belly flop competitions – for the brave and foolhardy.
Insider’s tip… Harry’s Bar by the hotel pool might have been recently renovated, but it remains a longstanding local favourite. There’s usually live music playing and you can grab a stool to watch a local talent strum along to the sunset.