Most beaches prohibit any kind of alcohol. Violators can get cited, although law enforcement officials often start with a warning. The small communities along the beach generally don't have the manpower to walk the sand inspecting every cup, but they do respond to complaints and enforce the open-container rules accordingly. There are a few exceptions. Madeira Beach and Redington Beach allow alcohol on the beach, but not in glass bottles. So does Treasure Island, except for the Sunset Beach area between 85th and 99th avenues surrounding Caddy's, a popular bar and restaurant that allows drinking on its beach. Treasure Island put the ban in place last year in response to residents' complaints that the bar attracts drunken, misbehaving beachgoers who spill into the neighborhoods. The ban covers Saturdays and Sundays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. At night, drinking is allowed. Treasure Island's beaches are closed from 1 to 5 a.m., but the others have no restrictions.
Dogs, cats and other pets are banned from public beaches, even if they are super lovable and on a leash. Honeymoon Island and Fort De Soto Park have dog beaches, but they close at sundown. If you chance walking Fido in the sand, make sure you bring a bag to clean up after him.
While all the barely-there bathing suits would make it seem like nudity is allowed on public beaches, it's not. In fact, there's only one clothing-optional beach in Florida, and it's Haulover Beach near Miami. The nearest nude sunbathing is at the nudist resorts in Pasco County. And that happens mostly around the pools during the day, and most aren't open to the public.
It doesn't get more carefree than hanging out with friends around a beach bonfire. But around here it's a big no-no — and a recipe for attracting authorities because fires are so noticeable. If you must cook a hotdog on the beach, head to Redington Beach or Indian Shores. Redington allows bonfires and grills on the beach if you get a permit from the Madeira Beach fire department, which provides fire service to Redington Beach. The form is available is townofredingtonbeach.com/permits.php. Indian Shores allows a beach fire for cooking as long as it's in a contained grill or hibachi.
Plan to rent a hotel room or crash a friend's place because camping — and sleeping overnight — is prohibited. To pitch a tent in the sand, head Fort De Soto Park or the Shell Key Preserve, camping areas closest to Pinellas County beaches.