Are you visiting the Tampa Bay area or moving to Tampa? Famous for its white-sand beaches and tourist attractions like Busch Gardens, the Tampa area has some of the best beaches in the state with year-round mild weather to enjoy.
Ben T. Davis Beach is arguably the best beach in the city of Tampa. It’s the closest beach from the Tampa airport and downtown with powdery white sand and convenient amenities. Here’s everything you want to know about the beach before your visit.
Ben T. Davis Beach History
Many visitors wonder, who is Ben T. Davis? The beach was named for Ben T. Davis who owned the local dredging company in Tampa that commissioned the causeway now linking Clearwater and Tampa. The causeway was completed in 1934 and seized just ten years later for the war effort. It was transferred to the state of Florida and renamed the Courtney Campbell Causeway for the U.S. Representative, a Clearwater resident who supported its upkeep.
Where Is Ben T. Davis Beach?
Ben T. Davis Beach is just 10 minutes outside downtown Tampa on the east end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. The beach is on the shore of Old Tampa Bay, one of five bays that make up Tampa Bay. It’s one of two beaches on the Causeway. Ben T. Davis is managed by the City of Tampa while the Florida Department of Transportation manages the unnamed beach on the west end of the Causeway. It’s the largest and most popular beach in the Tampa city limits.
How far is Ben T. Davis Beach from Tampa airport? The beach is just 5 miles from Tampa International Airport (TPA). Here’s how to get from Tampa International Airport to Ben T. Davis Beach.
Here is the Ben T. Davis Beach address:
Ben T. Davis Parking
As you plan for your trip to Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa, you’re probably curious about the parking situation.
Is there parking at Ben T. Davis Beach?
There is metered parking at the beach at several parking areas. However, parking can be difficult during busy hours, and you may struggle to find a spot.
Is parking at Ben T. Davis Beach free?
No, there is no Ben T. Davis Beach free parking. However, parking is very cheap!
What are the Ben T. Davis Beach parking hours?
Ben T. Davis Beach is open from sunrise to sunset. In 2016, the city installed gates to stop racing and gatherings at Ben T. Beach at night. These steel gates at the access points are locked from 11 pm to 4 am.
What is the Ben T. Davis parking cost?
The cost for metered parking at the park is very cheap – just $0.55 per hour!
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Activities & Amenities at Ben T. Davis Beach, Tampa
Ben T. Davis Beach in Florida is the perfect spot for soaking up the sun, enjoying amazing sunset views of Tampa Bay, hunting for shells, and spotting sea life. The beach offers calm but very shallow water and it’s usually not the best place for swimming or fishing because there are often advisories due to bacteria. There are lifeguards on duty at the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Ben T. Davis Beach offers plenty of amenities to get the most out of your day at the beach:
- Restrooms with showers
- Concession stand
- Picnic shelters
- Built-in grills
- Kayak, paddleboard, bicycle, and floating mat rentals
Beach volleyball is very popular at Ben T. Davis Beach. You’ll often see local teams playing games. The beach also offers easy access to the Courtney Campbell Trail for biking and walking. The trail runs along the causeway from Tampa’s Veterans Expressway to Clearwater’s Bayshore Boulevard and connects to other trails on both sides. The entire trail is 9.5 miles long including a 5.5-mile section in Tampa and a 4-mile extension across the bay.
Rentals are available at WhatSUP Paddle Sports. Prices are affordable:
- Paddleboard rentals are $30/hour including the board, paddle, leash, and PFD
- Kayak rentals are $25/hour for single kayaks and $35/hour for tandem kayaks including the kayak, paddle, and PFD
- Bike rentals are $20/hour for the bike, helmet, and lock
- 10’x6’ floating mat rentals are $15/hour
They also offer fun group activities! Try beach yoga or paddleboard yoga on the water or an excursion leaving the bay. WhatSUP offers a paddleboard tour through nearby Downtown Tampa.
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Can you swim at Ben T. Davis Beach?
Swimming is sometimes discouraged at Ben T. Davis and other Tampa Bay beaches due to bacteria levels that make swimming dangerous. The water at the beach is very shallow, but there is usually a swimming area marked off with buoys. Before going into the water, make sure you check for no-swimming advisories from the county. As a general rule, Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa is not recommended for swimming.
Ben T. Davis Beach vs Clearwater Beach
When you’re living in Tampa or just visiting, you have plenty of options for enjoying the beach. The City of Tampa offers only four beaches on the bay, but there are dozens of beaches in the Tampa Bay area. One of the most popular is Clearwater Beach, a popular destination for Tampa residents and tourists alike.
Clearwater Beach has more amenities than Ben T. Davis including fishing, dolphin-watching excursions, an aquarium, and Pier 60 that often has live music and events. The beach is famous for its calm waters that make it ideal for stand-up paddleboarding. It also has a beachfront promenade for strolls, biking, and rollerblading.
Another important difference? Clearwater Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico, not Tampa Bay. This means the water quality is generally better. Particularly during the summer, the bay has more frequent alerts about bacteria.
If you’re in Tampa, Ben T. Davis Beach is the most convenient destination for enjoying Tampa Bay’s white sand and sunny shores. Clearwater Beach is a much farther drive and 20 miles from Tampa airport across the bay.
What to Know Before You Go
Here is the most crucial information you need to know before visiting Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa.
Tampa Beach Water Quality
The Florida Department of Health monitors the water quality at Tampa beaches. This is crucial to check for dangerous bacterial levels. Through the Florida Healthy Beaches Program, alerts may be issued to warn against fishing or swimming at beaches when bacterial levels are high.
It’s always a good idea to check for current advisories before hitting the beach. You can check the Ben T. Davis Beach water quality here.
In September 2022, the Florida Department of Health issued safety advisories for six Tampa Beach beaches including Ben T. Davis Beach due to dangerously high levels of enterococci bacteria. The bacterial level indicates fecal pollution which may come from human sewage, stormwater runoff, or pets. The bacteria level is high enough that Ben T. Davis Beach was closed.
Red tide is sometimes a concern in Tampa Bay. The Florida red tide is an algae bloom that discolors the water and is toxic to marine life. It’s usually safe to swim during red tide, but it can cause skin irritation.
If you live in Tampa, you can sign up for alerts on the City of Tampa website. Alerts are issued for safety issues at Tampa beaches, dog parks, splash pads, playgrounds, public pools, recreation centers, boat ramps, and more.
Ben T. Davis Beach Rules
Ben T. Davis is one of only four beaches managed by the city of Tampa. There are a few Tampa beach rules to be aware of before visiting.
- No alcohol is allowed at Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa.
- Leashed pets are allowed.
- Pet owners must clean up after their pets.
- Vehicles, skateboards, and bikes are only allowed on designated areas.
- No dumping or littering.
- Amplified sound and special events require a permit with at least 30 days’ notice.
Is Ben T. Davis Beach dog friendly?
Yes, Ben T. Davis Beach allows dogs and it’s a great place to take your four-legged friend! Just make sure your dog remains leashed and you clean up after them. While soaking up the sun, you’ll probably see plenty of pups enjoying the sand and even passing by in a kayak or on a paddleboard!
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Hotels Close to Ben T. Davis Beach
Are you just visiting Tampa and looking for the nearest Ben T. Davis Beach hotels? Here are some of the best options.
- Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. It’s more than a mile from the beach, but it offers fantastic water views.
- Sailport Waterfront Suites. This is an all-waterfront and all-suite hotel on Rocky Point Island with an outdoor heated pool. It’s walking distance to the beach.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Tampa Rocky Point Waterfront. This is about as close as you can get to Ben T. Davis Beach!
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa/Rocky Point Island. Just one mile from the beach, it’s one of the most affordable hotels close to Ben T. Davis Beach.
- Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas Tampa. This affordable option just 0.6 miles to the beach!
Restaurants Near Ben T. Davis Beach
Looking for places to eat near the beach? There’s a concessions stand at the beach, but there are also several Ben T. Davis Beach restaurants and bars within walking distance. Here are the best!
- Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill – Tampa. This is the go-to place to eat near Ben T. Davis Beach. It’s right on the beach with a fun atmosphere, casual American cuisine, and a huge drink menu. Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill – Tampa, 7720 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 281-0770
- Bahama Breeze. This popular chain offers Caribbean dishes and tropical cocktails on the beach. Bahama Breeze, 3045 N Rocky Point Dr E, Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 289-7922
- Rusty Pelican – Tampa. Enjoy water views at this upscale bar and grill right by the beach. Rusty Pelican – Tampa, 2425 N Rocky Point Dr, Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 281-1943
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The go-to beach for Tampa residents and a popular destination for tourists, Ben T. Davis Beach is one of the best things to do in Tampa for families, with pets, or just to enjoy a romantic sunset.
Are you considering moving to Tampa and want to be close to the beach? At 2 College Brothers, we recommend looking at downtown, Rocky Point, Westshore, Davis Islands, and other South Tampa neighborhoods to be as close as possible. If you’re preparing to relocate to the area, call our friendly Tampa movers today for a free quote!