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Get on the Water in Treasure Island Florida

Kayaks, Paddleboards, Boats and More!

There’s more than one way to get in and in the water on Treasure Island besides wading in from the beach.  You can head out on Boca Ciega Bay or out into the Gulf.  Day or night!

Treasure Island Boat Rentals – Bow, Pontoon & Deck Boats available for rent. Rentals include a cooler, nautical chart, orientation and the necessary safety equipment.

Mad Beach Paddlesports – 11125 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island. (At the Treasure Bay Resort and Marina).  610-217-2604.

Mad Beach offers paddleboard and kayak rentals, along with tours.  A couple of really cool things they offer are Night Sup and Sunset/Glow Tour.  Paddleboarding at night! Yes it is a thing! Fewer people, less glare, the stars and the moon, cooler temps and even cooler LED lights on the paddleboards.  If you don’t want to go out on your own, the tours are a great way to go.  Four tour options include Tour Shell Key, Tour Johns Pass, the Sunset/Glow tour mentioned above, and Tour DeSoto. Bike rentals are also available at Mad Beach Paddlesports, including Fat Tire Bikes and Electric Bikes.

Surf Shack – 14953 Gulf Blvd in Madeira Beach.  A great choice if you want to head up the coast a tad to Madeira Beach.  Bike rentals, paddleboard rentals, kayak rentals, scooter rentals, boogie board rentals and more! They say they have everything you need for the beach and I think they mean it! Right down to sunglasses and flip flops.

Hubbard’s Marina – a family business in its fourth generation, Hubbard’s has been around since 1928.  Hubbard’s offers fishing trips of varying lengths, private charters, daily dolphin watching nature and eco tours, a sunset cruise, a ferry to Egmont key, kayak and paddleboard rentals and guided Segway tours.  Located at 170 Johns Pass Boardwalk, Madeira Beach.  Call them at 727-393-1947 or 1-800-755-0677.

Online reservations available if you know what you want!

Treasure Island Inflatable Slide

This slide is operated by Big Event Slides.  Also known as the Hippo Slide.
Big Event Slides – 10400 Gulf Blvd.  $3 for one trip, $5 for two trips or an all-day pass for $25. Huge slide. You can see it from the parking lot! Check out the pictures on Facebook – so much fun!

When we were there last (July 2018) the slide was now sort of tan and blue.  Maybe they don’t last long in the blazing Florida sun. I will ask next time.  But there was also a pirate ship of sorts available.

Take note that the bungee trampoline has a weight limit that could affect some adults.

It operates during the Sunday evening Drum Circle too, so have a ride and try to slide with the beat!

This is what the “complex” looks like as you approach from the parking area.  You can easily access this via the Mobi-Mat, as the Mobi-Mat begins where the wooden beach walkover ends.

Tampa Bay Times (tbt) review of Coffee Grounds in Treasure Island

After living without power for 4 days in the aftermath of Irma last year, a tbt correspondent visits Coffee Grounds Cafe and Dessert Bar in Treasure Island and finds an eclectic coffee bar cocktail bar combo.

The venue sported an unusual selection of spirits when it first opened, so we’d love hearing from you, if you go, as to whether that is still true or if they have gone traditional.

Coffee Grounds is not air-conditioned, but should have a decent breeze making it comfortable enough.

Anywho, this is a relatively quick read of the review by Justin Grant, so take a look here.

Coffee Grounds website is here.

They are located at 10927 Gulf Blvd.  727-820-1909

Boating, Ramps and Marinas – Treasure Island Florida

Getting Around Treasure Island by Boat

Boat Ramps

Treasure Island has three public ramps. These are all pretty small, single-lane ramps with limited or no space for trailer parking.  It may make sense to scope it out ahead of time, but if you’re staying at our TI rentals you’ll want to use the 123rd Ave ramp and you can take the trailer back to the house and return on foot.

Things can get really busy on weekends, so TI asks that you prepare your boat prior to launch.  Treasure Island also has a small marina with some boat slips for rent. If you just need a slip for a short period they do have metered slips available at an hourly rate. There is a waiting list for the permanent slips. You may contact the recreation department if you’re interested. 727-547-4575. This is located on Boca Ciega Bay next to the City Services Complex on 108th Ave. Be careful if you search the web for information – there is a Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach.  Use our link or make sure you have the right one!

Bridges The Causeway Bridge (pictured above) can open three times per hour during the week and twice an hour on the weekends. Here is the schedule:  Monday – Friday – 7 am to 7 pm it opens at the top of the hour, at twenty minutes after the hour and forty minutes after the hour. Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays – it opens at 15 minutes after the hour and 45 minutes after the hour (or 15 minutes before…) You can request a bridge opening by calling the bridge tender on VHF Channel 9. When closed the bridge has 21 feet of vertical clearance.

Bridges​

The Causeway Bridge (pictured above) can open three times per hour during the week and twice an hour on the weekends.

Here is the schedule:

Monday – Friday – 7 am to 7 pm it opens at the top of the hour, at twenty minutes after the hour and forty minutes after the hour.

Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays – it opens at 15 minutes after the hour and 45 minutes after the hour (or 15 minutes before…)

You can request a bridge opening by calling the bridgetender on VHF Channel 9.

When closed the bridge has 21 feet of vertical clearance.

Getting Around Treasure Island Florida

Getting Around Treasure Island Florida

The entire length of Treasure Island running from north to south is less than 4 miles, so going anywhere locally isn’t likely to take long.   You have the usual options, like your own car or a taxi, but you also have newer ride share options plus a free beach shuttle service. Read on for details!

1. Suncoast Beach Trolley

If you’re just moving up and down Gulf Blvd and you don’t need to go far from a stop, this is a great and green option.  Trolley stops are very frequent and you can find the schedule here, along with ticket/fare info and a map.  The beach trolley can also be used to connect to the Central Avenue Trolley to go to downtown St Petersburg.

Free Beach Ride

2. Free Beach Ride

The name of this service tells you exactly what you need to know.  You can get a ride and yes it is free.  Short and to the point.  This is a really neat service started in 2009 with just a few golf cars.  Today the service includes more vehicles, including some vans.

These shuttle operate locally and go door-to-door, from Pass-A-Grille at the south end of Gulf Blvd, to the northern parts of Clearwater Beach.  Drivers work for tips only, so it isn’t free in that sense, but you should know better than that!  Drivers are available from 8 am to 3 am daily.  Call 727-776-7533.

Beautiful Egmont Key

3. Tampa Bay Ferry and Water Taxi

You know you’re staying in a neat place when one of your transportation methods is a ferry or water taxi! Treasure Island is, in fact, an island, so it makes sense that one of your transportation options would be by boat.

True, neither the ferry or the water taxi will get you everywhere you need to go, but they will take you to a few key places and you’ll have fun doing it. The Tampa Bay Ferry company offers both ferry services and a water taxi service.  The Madeira Beach Water Taxi is the one that operates in the vicinity of Treasure Island.  This route goes from Treasure Island to John’s Pass, to ROC park, then Jungle Prada (where I highly recommend you disembark and dine at JP Tavern) and then back to TI.  You can find details of the route and schedule here.

Additionally, Tampa Bay Ferry offers two ferry services – one to Egmont Key and the other to Shell Key.  Both are great ways to spend a day.  Just be sure to read up on what’s at each destination and what you should bring with you.  Both Keys are nature destinations with limited services.

4. Lyft, Uber and Bats Taxi

Uber and Lyft are both available, but if you’re from a major metropolitan area, keep in mind that the density here is much less than in some places, so you may have a little longer wait times.  Bats has been in the area for a long time and is a good local option.  You can book BATS online here, or call 727-367-3702 to reserve.

Check out bike sharing with Coast Bike Share

5.Bicycle

At 3.8 miles in length and not very wide, Treasure Island is a place where you can bike almost anywhere you need to go.  Keep in mind that there can be a fair amount of traffic on the main thoroughfare – Gulf Blvd – but the speed limit is generally 35 mph so cars aren’t usually going too fast.

Coast Bike Share offers a great way to explore downtown St Pete and Central Avenue.  Coastbikeshare.com

6.Central Avenue Trolley

As previously mentioned, you can combine the Suncoast Beach Trolley with the Central Avenue Trolley to get downtown.  From Treasure Island you would take the Suncoast Beach Trolley south to the Corey Avenue “terminal” at 75th Ave and Gulf Blvd, then transfer to the Central Avenue Trolley to head downtown. You can take this trolley all the way to the Pier and there are many stops along with way.  Pricing varies, but is very reasonable.  Exact fare is required or you can use a GO card (purchasable online and at other locations in the county). I wouldn’t go without a exact change or lots of singles and change and a printed schedule.  Learning any new bus system takes time and your vacation time may be put to better use.   You can find a link to the schedule here.

7.Car

If you have your own car or a rental, sometimes the easiest and quickest way to get somewhere is going to be by car.  There are quite a few metered lots in TI and they have cute little names like “Sandpiper Lot” or “Heron Lot”.  Location of all the city parking lots can be found here and most of the lots are metered or have a pay station.  Lots with pay stations accept credit cards.  Parking is generally $2 per hour.  Use the Parkmobile app and pay with your smartphone.  Here is the link to the parking pay app.  And most businesses are going to have parking, though of course some more than others.  Parking at restaurants will be a little more challenging during prime dining times.

Insider Tip: The Transit App

Visit the App Store or Google Play to get this app. Simple. Reliable! And readable!

Or click here.

8.The Bus

If you want to feel as though your head is about to explode, try reading the PSTA bus route map. If you lived here, perhaps it would be worth the effort to figure it out.  If you’re not a local, your vacation will be over before you’ve figured out your route.

Thankfully there’s a solution that you should probably have your phone anyway, and that’s the Transit app.  This app from Heaven lets you plan your trip and includes real-time data for accuracy.

And better yet? This app doesn’t just work here – it works in 175 cities around the globe.  From Austin to Anchorage. Nicaragua to New Zealand.  Iceland to Italy.  Download it now.

Sunset Beach Pavilion Treasure Island – Video

Get a feel for the Sunset Beach Pavilion and the surrounding area by watching this 2 minute video.  This gorgeous venue is available for rent, but if you’re looking for a location for a summer wedding you do need to plan far, far in advance.  However, the iconic views afforded might just warrant changing your plans a tad to make sure it can happen here.

Weekday wedding anyone?

View our Treasure Island dashboard to read more about the pavilion and other wonderful things about Treasure Island here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-FQ6XhfINI

Manatee Rescue after Hurricane Hermine leaves them stranded on a golf course!

Florida is home to an estimated 6,250 manatees. They’re also known as “sea cows”. You can learn more about manatees or become a supporter by adopting a manatee through the Save The Manatee Club.
If you have time during your visit to the area, visit the manatees at Homosassa Springs.

The video below is worth watching. If you didn’t think manatees just hung the moon before, you will now! (Note: This story was from 2016.)
Seven manatees were stranded on a golf course in Crystal River, one of which was a baby. These guys aren’t small, so moving even a baby is a huge undertaking.
>> Manatees trapped by hurricane Hermine

Pinellas Farmers Markets

A more thorough post on the area’s Farmers Markets is forthcoming, but for now here is a snapshot of local farmers markets.  You’ll find everything from creative breads to veggies and fruits to jewelry and seafood.
Some markets are only seasonal, while others operate year-round.  Please make a note of the dates and times. But with all these to choose from, one of them is bound to fit in your schedule.

What’s the Fuss About Smoked Fish Spread?

Smoked Fish Spread

I love fish spread.  And I want you to love it, too.

Now that my motives are clear, I hope you’ll read on for “Splashy Ventures’ guide to Fish Spread” – my extensively researched (and taste-tested) manifesto for fully enjoying this Florida favorite.

Below you’ll find a dash of history, a restaurant and retail “hit list” for the best places to get fish spread and recipes for making your own.  (If you’ve crafted a winner, there’s even a list of contests to show off your masterpiece – or sample everyone else’s.)

Let’s dive in!

Where & When Did Fish Spread Start?

The popular history of smoke fish spread starts with Ted Peters.  While it’s unclear whether Ted Peters was the first local to turn smoked fish into a spread/dip, he’s certainly one of its earliest (and most important) aficionados.

Ted was a bit of a visionary.  After WWII. he took the fish-smoking process from out of sight in the backwoods and backyard to “out in front,” where he bet the smoking process would catch both the eyes and noses of passersby.  He was right – and smoked fish fast became a thing.

Ted’s original fish smoking location opened in the late 1940’s.  By 1951, the current Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish restaurant was up and running, and neither smoked fish nor Ted Peters ever looked back.

The Peters family business really was a true family affair.  “Mom” created the German potato salad recipe and baked pies.  Ellen Peters created the fish spread recipe.  And five generations later, and the same family is synonymous with fish spread.  It’s an endeavor that is near and dear to all involved – and you can definitely taste their dedication.

Visit their website for a more complete history, media mentions (like Diners Drive-ins and Dives!) and short videos on the fish smoking process.

ted peters smoked fish

The Smoked Fish Spread of Today

Today, smoked fish spread (or dip) can be found on many a Florida restaurant menu, and is made from fish types ranging from mullet to amberjack to mahi-mahi to kingfish. Generally, the oilier the fish, the better. This is because the oil in the fish helps it withstand the lengthy smoking process without drying out.

Fish spread often features celery, scallions and mayonnaise and is always accompanied by crackers (Saltines, Club, or both). Favorite toppings—if any—include jalapeños, bell pepper, capers, or relish.

One of the many pleasures of fish spread is sampling your way through the many different versions our restaurants have on offer. Most commonly, fish spread is served as an appetizer—the perfect introduction to authentic Floridian dining.

Toppings—if any—include jalapeños, bell pepper, capers, or relish. One of the many pleasures of fish spread is sampling your way through the many different versions our restaurants have on offer.

For a more detailed dive into the smoked fish experience, check out this awesome post from Authentic Florida and Visit Sarasota.

If I’ve kept your attention this long, your next question is bound to be:

Where Can I Eat Smoked Fish Spread?

The fish spread at all the restaurants below is worth sampling! We’ve grouped the restaurants by town so you’ll have a handy list when you’re out and about.

Quite a few of these spots are in our 3 Day Dining Guide to Gulfport, so check out that post too.

Gulfport

O’Maddy’s
Sal’s Fresh Smoked Fish Spread

Neptune Grill
Smoked Fish Spread

Backfin Blue
Fish Spread

St Pete Beach /
Pass-A-Grille

Sea Critters Cafe
Smoked Fish Dip (good to know: parking is limited)

Rick’s Reef Restaurant & Patio Bar
Smoked Fish Spread

Bongo Beach Bar & Grille
Smoked Fish Dip

Jimmy B’s Beach Bar at the Beachcomber Resort
Smoked Fish Spread

St Petersburg /
South Pasadena

Mid Peninsula Seafood
Homemade Fish Spread

Treasure Island

Middle Grounds Grill
Smoked Fish Spread

Where Can I Buy Smoked Fish Spread?​

Once you’ve tried fish spread in a restaurant, you’re likely to want to have some on hand at home for lunch or late-night snacks.

Of course, you can always order fish spread to-go from the above restaurants. But sometimes you want to really load up. If that’s the case, try these suppliers:

Offshore Seafood Co

Fish spread is important enough to this family-owned business that it has dedicated a webpage to it. Created in 2012, the Offshore Seafood take on the spread is wild caught mahi-mahi smoked over real hickory wood logs, blended with top-of-the-line ingredients and sold to local restaurants, distributors, and directly to consumers.

And not to worry – if you get hooked, they can ship to you overnight!

Mid Peninsula Seafood

The fish is smoked on the premises and there are three varieties to choose from! Amberjack plain, Amberjack with jalapeno and Salmon.

Publix

If you’re hitting the local supermarket, pick up Smilin’ Bob’s Original Smoked Fish Dip or Smilin’ Bob’s All-Natural Smoked Fish Dip (both from the Key West Smoked Fish Co.) A family owned business with fish spread made right in the Keys. Read their story here and find out why Bob is smilin’.

Gulf Coast Seafood

It used to be that this well-respected business sold only to restaurants, stores, and resorts—not directly to consumers. But luckily, there’s now a storefront at 4921 9th Ave S in Gulfport where you can stock up. As Gulf Coast Seafood likes to say, you can’t get any closer to fresh unless you pull it out of the water yourself!

Ted Peters

Buy smoked fish spread by the half pint, pint or quart from the guy who made it famous. (Good to know: the business is cash only.)

How to Make Your Own Fish Spread

The logical next step in your “fish spread evolution” is to make it at home. For that, you’ll need some fresh smoked fish (see Ted Peters, Gulf Coast Seafood or Mid Peninsula Seafood above) and a great recipe.

Here are some of our at-home favorites. We’ve tasted them all, and we stand by ‘em!

Smoked Mullet Dip from Authentic Florida and Caroline Chambliss

Smoked Fish Dip from Allrecipes

Smoked Fish Dip from Food Network

Last but not least, here’s a lengthy mouth-watering collection of recipes from Salt Strong. (Warning: don’t view it on an empty stomach!)

Where Can I Compete with My Fish Spread (or Taste Local Recipes)?

And finally, if after all this you love fish spread as much as I do, there’s only one thing left to do. Enter a fish spread contest! Or at least attend one and taste test your way through local favorites.

Old Salt Foundation Fish Spread Contest

It would be well worth 5 minutes of your time to read about the Old Salt Fishing Foundation and learn about the foundation’s mission as well as where the name “Old Salt” comes from. Hint: it is not a reference to salty old fisherman.

The Old Salt Fish Spread Contest will be in its 9th year in November 2018. Registration is $10 per entry and qualifies you for both Judges and Peoples Choice Awards.  Additional rules can be found on the contest website.

I can’t think of a better way to get your fish spread game on. And to those who decide to enter the contest, may the fish spread force be with you.

Happy feasting!