There's a town called "Saint Pete Beach" that covers the some of what we would call the 'tourist beaches'; However, for the purpose of this article: Saint Pete Beach is actually a misnomer. It's really, "Saint Pete Beaches." There's over a dozen different beaches. Each with their own unique features and drawbacks.
Saint Pete Beach Proper Covers Upham Beach and everything South until Pass-A-Grille beach. The island this is on is called "Long Key", and this was named America's #1 beach by Trip Advisor for 2021. We're really spoiled in this area.
But, PInellas County has a ton of other beaches, From Caladesi Island, a remote area accessible only by private boat, or a ferry that runs a few times a day to Indian Rocks Beach, lined with hotels and full of tourists, there really is a little bit for everyone, and even if it's a more popular beach, that does not mean you can't have a semi-private ceremony, but you're likely to get a few onlookers.
Saint Petersburg's Beaches are the SLIGHTLY more local oriented equivalent to Clearwater Beach. Some of these beaches no tourist has ever heard of, some rival Clearwater Beach for summertime attendance.
If you're more nature oriented, There's a bunch of options that have that old Florida vibe, where you'll have your toes in the sand.
If you're more luxury oriented, there's a bunch of options to give you amazing reception opportunities while still exchanging vows seaside.
The Saint Pete Beaches are all different and all have different difficulties of getting there.
The previously mentioned Caladesi Island really is an island. There's no bridges, there's no way to get there outside of a private boat, or the ferry that runs a few times a day. There's a few other islands like this (including Shell Key, Egmont Key, and a bunch of other Pirates of the Caribbean level spits of sand a little ways away from shore.).
Saint Pete Beach proper is Extremely easy to get to and to get around on. Parking can be a little limited, and this is definitely something you need to consider. Most spaces are pay spaces, and are between $1 and $5 per hour.
Most beaches, are easy to get to, and are about 30 minutes by car from the Saint Pete/Clearwater Airport (PIE) and about 40-50 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TIA). For a lot of these, you and your guests will probably want a hotel or air bnb and a rental car. A lot of the beach areas are really walkable, but to get to and from, it could be a pricy uber ride, and parking can be scarce.
For everyone eloping on a Saint Pete Beach and elsewhere – this is a big deal and can be a tough decision. Your specific needs will probably vary and will depend on the amount of guests you’re planning on having, their budget, and how close they really need to be. If you’re all traveling from out of state, definitely try and stay on the Beach. If you're going to be at one of the major tourist beaches (Upham Beach, Pass-A-Grille Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shore, Treasure Island Beach, Sunset Beach, or Madeira Beach), these areas are really walkable and there's a lot of amazing places to stay on the water at all levels of affordability, and places just across the street that are usually much less expensive.
Permits for Beaches here can be a little confusing - it depends on whose jurisdiction each beach falls into.
Upham Beach and Pass-A-Grille Beach fall into the jurisdiction of The City of Saint Pete Beach, Florida.
Permits currently range from $50-$250 or more, depending on the type of wedding you'll be having.
Madeira Beach falls into the Jurisdiction of The City of Madeira Beach.
Permits range from $50-$100.
Fort Desoto and Several other beaches fall into the jurisdiction of Pinellas County.
Permit prices and requirements vary.
Florida is hot. Even in the winter, it can be warm. On a hot summer day, the sand will be hot to the touch, and it’s usually humid too. Not exactly conducive to hair and makeup, let alone grooms decked out in wool suits. Please keep the warm weather in mind when you’re making your plans.
In the rainy season (typically June-September). It’s likely to rain. It’s likely to rain a lot. Often, it seems like every day at 4:00 you can set your watch to the downpour. This could happen anywhere, at any time of year, but just know what you’re planning for and have a backup plan. It might clear up in a few minutes, it might rain for a while. The more remote the beach you choose, the less likely a backup plan will be.
The best time of year to Elope in Saint Pete Beach would be Fall-Spring. It’s less hot, less bugs, less tourists, and less chance of rain.
A beach elopement is such an intimate, amazing experience. It's really just you, the one you love, and those closest to you. No need to fuss about which table linens to use, or stress about getting your décor just right. It's a simple, but elegant day where you can focus on the things that are most important to you and have a blast getting married! Here's an example of a beach elopement that we absolutely loved being a part of! This was on Madeira Beach, it can be pretty touristy of a place, but Brittany and Keith practically had all of Madeira Beach to themselves.