Caladesi Discovery Center

The Caladesi Discovery Center will be an open air, ADA compliant, interpretive facility rising from the old observation tower site at Caladesi Island State Park.  


An observation deck at a height of approximately 25 feet above ground level will provide visitors a panoramic view of this undeveloped barrier island.  In addition to offering a magnificent bird’s eye view of the topography and plant communities of one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Caladesi Discovery Center will provide hands-on exhibits where park guests will be able to investigate aspects of Caladesi’s history, habitat and wildlife.  


At the Caladesi Discovery Center every person will have an opportunity to experience the nature of “Real Florida.”

Building the Caladesi Discovery Center. Help Share Paradise 
Caladesi Island is much more than “another beautiful beach.”  It’s a window on the world of nature.  

Why is the Caladesi Island Discovery Center Important?
The Discovery Center will be a focal point and learning center that will allow us to share all the wonderful things that make Caladesi unique.  This interpretative center will allow visitors to hear and see the whole story -- the island’s history, the life cycles of nature’s creatures and come to a better understanding of its sheer physical beauty.   

Together, we can make this a reality  

Your donation will help create a unique learning center and observation area.  While the campaign to fund the project has been underway for some time, we still need to raise enough to create a first class, lasting educational facility.  Professional architectural plans are being finalized through regulatory authorities,  Final plans, approvals and the actual construction of the Center occur once funding is completed.  

Imagine the lasting contribution your gift will provide – the chance for children and their families to truly enjoy all of the wonders of one of the last unspoiled barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  Your generosity will go toward the goal of giving every visitor the chance to understand and enjoy more all that makes Caladesi a place of wonder and beauty.  

All the Wonderful Things to See and Hear About   
The Discovery Center will provide visitors with a way to learn about and observe the vast range of flora and fauna on Caladesi Island as well as the history of the island.  

Rare Birds and animals 
The island is a critical sanctuary for fascinating and rare wildlife species, many endangered by encroaching human development. 

Visitors will be able to learn why and how Caladesi is a haven for year-round and migratory birds and shorebirds, sea turtles and shellfish, mollusks and fish as well as many species of snakes, insects, and crustaceans that have been displaced elsewhere.  The threatened Gopher Tortoise thrives here as do owls and osprey, while dolphins and manatees shelter in in the island’s waters

Magnificent Trees and plants
The forests, mangroves and scrub, sandbars and sea grass beds, as well as the beach itself are part of the rich environment on the island.  Sea oats, palmettos, Florida red cedar, coral bean, prickly pear cactus, sky blue lupine -- along with some of the oldest slash pines in Florida, ancient oak trees draped with resurrection fern, butterfly orchids and Spanish Moss -- all thrive here and are a marvel to behold.

Rich History 
Visitors will encounter the “Real Florida” as it was known by the area’s early native inhabitants and settlers.  They will discover the Tocobaga Indians and all the nationalities of soldiers, sailors and conquerors who came after them, as well as the adventures of a local family and a girl who rowed from Caladesi to Dunedin to go to school.

Barrier Island Ecology
Originally part of Honeymoon Island, a 1921 hurricane split Caladesi off to the south, forming Hurricane Pass between the two. Caladesi is a link in the chain of barrier islands that extends from Anclote Key south to Cape Romano.  Interpretative knowledge on the island’s wide variety of plant, bird and other species, including several threatened and endangered species, will be available. Keeping Caladesi “native” requires resource management efforts including the removal of exotic species of plants such as Brazilian pepper. 

Donation has its benefits
Besides the sheer joy of helping to make and preserve a unique environment, this development of the Center provides numerous opportunities to place your name in history.

As one of the funding supporters, you can get recognition, even to having your name on a brick in the courtyard, and nameplate on the Center itself – and more – depending on your contribution, which may be claimed as a charitable income tax deduction, to the extent provided by federal law.

Friends of the Island Parks is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.  Deductions depend on your individual situation and the counsel of your accountant.

Letters of Support

Congressman David Jolly

State Senator Jack Latvala

State Legislator Chris Sprowls

Pinellas County Commissioner David Eggers

Mayor of Dunedin Julie Ward Bujalski

Dunedin Chamber of Commerce