Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Petersburg

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Tampa, FL
Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Petersburg
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Pass-a-Grille Beach, near the town of St. Petersburg, is a cozy stretch of white sand with shells along the shoreline and pale green water. It is located at the southern tip of Long Key, a long barrier island. Some shops and restaurants across the street make this a handy beach destination. You park along the street and then walk on a little wooden boardwalk over the fine white dunes with wildflowers and tall sea oats. All the while admiring the strip of bright water in front of you. Once on the beach, you find the sand is lovely for building sandcastles. There are plenty of sticks, leaves, coral, and shells to decorate your sandcastle. 

A nice thing about the gulf is that the water is flat and calm, which makes it easy for kids to swim. On summer days you must consider the water quality in case there's flesh-eating bacteria called vibrio vulnificus (when the water gets too warm from July to September, and most common near an inlet or the intracoastal channel where there is lower salinity). Bacterial levels are higher at the shore, such as at the high tide line or in the ankle-deep water. This beach, being at the southern tip of Long Key, is close to where the channel or bay meets the ocean, making brackish water more likely. You can also check recent water quality reports for e. coli bacteria (more common after heavy rain). Six of the 25 cases of flesh-eating bacteria in Florida in 2019 were in Pinellas county, but most cases are from eating or handling undercooked seafood especially oysters. 
Because the west coast beaches face the sunset, it is wonderful to stay at the beach until the sun goes down and enjoy the colorful spectacle. Something about the huge purple sky and the white sand is just gorgeous.
This beach must have retirement condos in walking distance because there were lots of snowbirds when we came. Even though there are tons of young people in St. Petersburg, especially in the Edge District, they don't seem to come to the beach!
On the southern end of the beach is a nice concrete jetty for fishing, called Pass-a-Grille Southwest Jetty. There are herons, pelicans, and egrets at the pier, hoping to score some fish. You can see dolphins too! You can walk from here 2 miles up the beach to the pink palace, the Don Cesar Hotel! It's a lovely walk!
When we visited, it was three days after a fierce storm with tornado warnings, and our timing was perfect for shelling! There were so many interesting things along the shore! Big sponges, sea urchins, jellyfish, coral that looked like jellies, sticks, and reddish purple fan coral. There were shells of all kinds, many of them huge! Lots of huge cockle shells with pink inside, clams still attached to each other, super shiny and paper thin jingle shells, scallops of perfect shape, white angel wing shells, and strange pen shells, still attached. And our favorites: dainty pear whelks, and gorgeous swirly conch shells.
The restaurants near the beach are your typical greasy crab shack type. Paradise Grille has a cute location right on the water, with picnic tables, colorful umbrellas, and little trees providing some shade. The smell is of fryer oil that hasn't been changed recently. The Brass Monkey, across the street, has a fantastic balcony with views along the coast. The food is also poor- the pizza we ordered was a frozen pizza. If you want the views, eat at one of these. If you want fresh, healthy, modern food, eat in the Edge District, 19 minutes east.
There are also snack places, like a Shave Ice place called Paradise Sweets, on Gulf Way.
The architecture is really cute in this area, Caribbean in style. Hurricane Seafood has a really cute building. The architecture in St. Petersburg is much nicer than the Central Florida beaches directly east such as Cocoa Beach or Melbourne Beach.
As you drive to the beach, you drive over the Pinellas Bayway, seeing gorgeous views including the Don Cesar Hotel.
From the beach, walk just 200 meters to the other side of Long Key to see the wonderful blue-green channel. Here you can hang out on Merry Pier, or just look at the channel from any spot on the sidewalk that runs along Pass A Grille Way.
Pass-a-Grille Beach is named after the Cuban fishermen who would grill their fish on the beaches. It is from the phrase Passe Aux Grilleurs, french for passageway of the grillers.

Continue to directions...

Wonderful views as you approach the beach, on the Pinellas Bayway.

You pass the Don Cesar pink hotel as you drive to Pass-a-Grille Beach.

The boardwalk that leads over the dunes to the beach.

Looking south down the beach.

Looking past the sea oats, on the boardwalk.

Amazing finds on the shore! Conch shells, whelks, cockle shells, and sea urchin.

Looking north up the beach, to the Don Cesar Hotel.

The beautiful water, and big sponges on the shore.

Cockle shell and little wave.

Coral on the shore.

Sea urchin inside a shell, on the shore.

Paper thin and super shiny jingle shell.

Scallop shells lined up around our sand castle.

Piles of shells, after a storm!

Conch shell on the shore.

Fan whelk, sea urchin, and other shells on the shore.

Huge cockle shells with pink inside, and fan coral, on the shore.

Conch shell, sea urchin, and two shells still attached!

A bird checks out all the interesting things washed up after a storm.

A beautiful shell, with the pale green water behind.

Sandcastle, and beach walkers.


Bird and pen shell.

Coral on the shore.

Conch shell and tiny wave rolling in to shore.

The amazing spiral of a conch shell.

A lady shows me the reddish purple fan coral she collected for her house.

Cockle shells and piles of more shells.

Yellow and silver jingle shells.

The walkway to the sand.

The dunes.

Nice architecture across the street.

The walkway near Paradise Grille.

Shady seating right on the water, at Paradise Grille.

Great views at Paradise Grille.

Views from the balcony at The Brass Monkey.

Table with a view at The Brass Monkey.

Cute palm and pretty architecture at Hurricane Seafood.

Silvery plants, white sand, and red umbrellas at Paradise Grille.

Wonderful tree-lined street!

The other side of Long Key, that faces the channel.

Beautiful views of the channel, from the other side of Long Key.

Couple cuddling as a speed boat goes by.


Pass-a-Grille Beach is located at the southern tip of Long Key, a barrier island. The address is 1603 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach FL. There is plenty of parking in diagonal spaces along Gulf Way. You pay in the machine, $3 an hour.


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Last Updated: Tue, 11 Feb 2020 01:29:31 GMT

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