By Nancy Foster
Tiny Treasure Island is barely five miles long and snuggles against the pristine shores of the Gulf of Mexico, next door to St. Pete Beach and a few miles south of Clearwater Beach. Sun-worshipers have traveled here for years to revel in the natural beauty, laid-back atmosphere and unobstructed access to wide stretches of soft white beach. With a uniquely welcoming, friendly and fun charm, expect hours of sun, sand and surf until daylight wanes into dusky night with positively mesmerizing sunsets.
Newly opened this spring is the swanky Treasure Island Beach Resort. With its sleek, ultra-modern design, dramatic lobby entrance, and elegantly appointed water view rooms and suites, this posh property is a perfect choice. Dine in the modish BRGR Kitchen and Bar where creative chefs work with locally-sourced veggies and whip up tantalizing custom seasoned burgers, fresh baked breads and unique menu offerings. Laze by the crystalline pool on a shaded chaise and raise a Torched Rosemary Collins to toast the sunset.
Treasure Island is also home to many throwback “mom and pop” cottages, spacious beachfront condo rentals and independent properties. Perennial favorite Bilmar Beach Resort is known for its gorgeous beach and on-site Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Grill. At Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites, bask by the turquois pool or wide beach, with shops, dining and entertainment at John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk only five minutes away.
Stretched along Treasure Island’s Gulf Boulevard are a myriad of cafés, beach bars and pubs, mostly all locally owned, casual and affordable. The Middle Grounds Grill, opposite the Treasure Island Hotel, offers a more upscale ambience, eclectic menu (i.e. Lemon Infused Crab Cakes) and extensive wine cellar. For up-tempo fun directly on the sand, head to Caddy’s on the Beach, a popular hangout where locals and visitors come in swimwear, cutoffs and flip flops to rock to the beat of local beach bands and chow down on casual eats and frosty brews.
For additional fun, rent stand up paddleboards from the Suncoast Surf Shop, browse for shells and Florida-themed gifts at the iconic Florida Shell Shop, and roam the Shine Art Gallery and Fashion Boutique for unique finds.
Photo of Treasure Island at sunset and dusk courtesy of visitstpeteclearwater.com; Sunset Vistas’ terrace view courtesy of Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites