The Beaches of Treasure Island
Does water call to you? Then you’ve found your place!
Treasure Island—a true island—is only connected to the mainland via the TI causeway to the east, the John’s Pass Bridge to the north and to St Pete Beach via the Blind Pass Bridge to the south. To the west of Treasure Island? Nothing but the big, beautiful Gulf of Mexico.In fact, Treasure Island is touched by water everywhere you look, with the Isle of Capri and Paradise Island resembling fingers beckoning in the waters of Boca Ciega Bay.
Get a bird’s eye view of Treasure Island’s geography in these short aerial videos. Note that every road and street is just a stone’s throw from the water!
So, how do you choose which beach to spread your towel on in this water-surrounded paradise?
“The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears or the sea.”
The Big Three
Treasure Island has three distinct beach areas: Sunset Beach, Sunshine Beach, and Municipal Beach/Treasure Island Beach.All three beach districts share similar sand quality (white and soft), water color and clarity (greenish blue and clear) and wave size (moderate; waves range from flat to choppy, depending on wind and weather), but have some distinct differences, too.
1. Sunshine Beach
Sunshine Beach is on the north end, running from just south of John’s Pass for about seven blocks to 120th Ave. With fewer hotels and more residential areas, this stretch of Treasure Island is laid-back and loved by locals.
There is only one parking lot (at the Snowy Egret on 126th Ave), but if you’re staying at one of our homes on Treasure Island, you won’t need a car. Just cross over Gulf Blvd at the pedestrian crosswalk at 119th Ave or at 120th Ave and stroll on over to the beach.
Your best bet is to hang out here, around beach near the crossovers.
To the north, the beach can get a little narrow, but at 119th and 120th Aves., it’s wide enough to give distance from the condos and The Treasure Island Beach Trail (which starts here), but not so wide that carting your gear to the tide is a chore.
Insider Tip: Sandbars
insider tip: sandbars
This area of the beach – Sunshine Beach around 120th and 119th – near the Shake Shop – is one of my favorites! The water is shallow enough that you can swim out to the buoys—particularly when the tide is out—and still touch bottom. It’s a great area for little ones just getting their feet wet in the surf.
There are a number of sandbars in the area, too. Bring along a waterproof camera for scrapbook-worthy snapshots. You may meet sea creatures like sand dollars hanging out on the sandbars, but please leave these creatures where you found them. (They’re living things, too!)If your sweet tooth strikes while you’re visiting Sunshine Beach, you couldn’t pick a better spot than the Shake Shop. Try the peanut butter shake or for something really different, the lime milkshake. Not a typo. Lime. Need a bathroom and don’t want to trek back to the house? There is a restroom on the second level of the Sunset Vistas condo building, just off the elevator.
2. Central Beach Area – Municipal Beach & Treasure Island Beach
Next down the coastline is the central beach area, which consists of Municipal Beach and Treasure Island Beach. This central area runs from 120th Ave to the intersection of Gulf Blvd and 1st St SE.
Municipal Beach is somewhat unique in that it is owned and maintained by the City of St. Petersburg rather than by the City of Treasure Island. It’s also probably the most commercial section of the beach, which is not surprising given its central location in the heart of Treasure Island.
The beach at Municipal Beach is exceptionally wide—wider than any other part of Treasure Island. Though you’ll have to haul your gear, the big beach offers the benefit of blocking out any noise from the road and condos.
Have a hankering or forget some beach essentials? The retro Snack Bar is located at 112th Ave on the Municipal Beach. You can buy snacks (go figure!), floats, sunscreen and other beach essentials here.
Nature lovers: keep an eye out for vegetation like sea oats, sea grapes and palm trees here.
There’s also a children’s playground here at Municipal Beach.
A little further down the beach is Treasure Island Beach at Gulf Front Park. The section of the beach is not as wide as it is at Municipal Beach.
You can park at the Gulf Front Park Lot at 104th Ave and Gulf Blvd, or at several others outlined in the downtown parking map.
Wander on down to Gulf Front Park on Sunday evenings and you’ll find hula-hooping, dancing, kids playing…and adults acting like kids. This is the Treasure Island Drum Circle. (If you’re trying to find the Drum Circle from the street rather than the beach, it’s across from Publix and Safeway, near the Bilmar Hotel and the Thunderbird Hotel.)
Insider Tip: ADA Beach Access
There is a fabulous mobility mat (MOBI MAT) available at Gulf Front Park, at 10400 Gulf Blvd. Find out more about it at our blog post here. Anyone who has difficulty walking in the sand can use it to get out to the beach.
Also in this area is the giant (and we do mean giant) waterslide. You have to pay to ride—but boy, is it fun. You can spot the Treasure Island Slide from far away, so just keep walking in its direction!
Insider Tip: Alcohol on the beach
Alcohol is allowed on some portions of Treasure Island beaches, a rarity in the state of Florida. Read more here.
Glass is never allowed and you’ll pay a hefty fine if caught. And no one wants to step on glass at the beach. So be cool!
3. Sunset Beach
On the southern end of Treasure Island is Sunset Beach, which runs from the Intersection of Gulf Blvd. and 1st St SE south. Like Sunshine Beach, this beach is also primarily residential.Sunset Beach has a half-mile boardwalk which goes around the tip of the island. This boardwalk is a lot more like the traditional boardwalk than the one on Sunshine Beach. It is raised off the ground and goes through shrubs and dunes along the beach. It also passes by a lot of condos that prohibit entry off of the boardwalk.
This area is also home to the Sunset Beach Pavilion (8000 W Gulf Blvd), a beautiful (and affordable!) place for special events on the beach, beloved for its iconic location and endless views.The pavilion can be rented through the City of Treasure Island website. If you visit this special place, you’ll see why weekend dates may be rented out years in advance, so consider a (quieter) weekday as an alternative for your event. We’re happy to give you the low-down on local businesses that offer package wedding deals.
Sunset Beach is also the beach you’re most likely to spot surfers, particularly if winds are high or if it’s stormy. There’s a jetty at the far end, plus picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.Across the jetty is the northern end of St Pete Beach. Like Sunshine Beach to the north, this beach is narrower than the Municipal Beach, but is full of vegetation and local character.
Insider Tip: Where to rent those yellow cabanas!
Read our blog post and find out how to secure those signature yellow cabanas, umbrellas and lounge chairs for yourself!
“At the beach, treasure is what we find, not what we buy.”
Leave a comment below and tell us what you love about these beaches!