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Florida’s 1,350-mile coastline may be tops for seaside real estate—no doubt the reason condos and people clutter almost all of it. Not so on Caladesi Island, a Gulf Coast barrier island of mangrove swamps, pine forests, and desolate beaches just outside Tampa.
Connect the Island Trail to the Hammock Loop for a 2.7-mile figure-eight that tours one of Florida’s last virgin slash pine forests. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises nosing for flowers, and don’t miss the mangrove-shaded lagoon at mile 2; herons, egrets, and spoonbills often feed there. When you hit the sugary beach, a dip or snorkel is in order.