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Sunshine Skyway Bridge
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Motorcycle Tour of Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Ranked #3 of 196 things to do in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
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Santa Maria de Dota, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
45 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed May 19, 2013

Cool bridge, especially if you read the history behind why they built the new one so high (a brutal fog accident that took many lives). Pretty.

Visited May 2013
Thank kipnoodle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Camberley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
973 reviews
501 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 572 helpful votes
Reviewed May 19, 2013

I've lost count how many times we've crossed this bridge but flying into Tampa a couple of times a year we drive over the bridge on our way to Rotonda and as soon as we see the bridge we know we're on holiday. It feels strange driving up and over as it's quite steep and feels almost like an aircraft take off. A couple of times we've seen large cruise ships pass underneath and it's not often you can look down on these large vessels. Unfortunately I'm always the driver and it can be difficult keeping an eye on the road when there's so much to see - including pelicans swooping close by. Unfortunately we know it's holiday's end as we head back to the airport after a few weeks relaxing by the Gulf of Mexico. We've often stopped off at the rest area on the Tampa side for a picnic and the clean rest rooms are a bonus.

An iconic structure that never fails to impress!

Visited May 2013
Thank nnmercman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Largo, Florida
Level Contributor
155 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
Reviewed May 17, 2013

Like the Phoenix risen from the ashes, the beautiful newer SKYWAY bridge is there simply because of a tragedy. It was about 8 AM on May 9, 1980, when the freighter Summit Venture, a ship close to 600 feet long (about two football fields) almost empty, light on ballast and riding high in the water struck the old SKYWAY bridge.

An experienced harbor pilot from Tampa, was guiding the Summit Venture from the Gulf of Mexico 58.4 miles up Tampa Bay to the Port of Tampa. The bay is shallow, the channel narrow, and the weather was horrifically bad. Fog, rain estimated at 7 inches an hour. Visibility zero, gusts to sixty and the shipboard radar failed. “Could of been made into a movie like The perfect storm”. Everything was wrong and it was stacking up fast.

When struck by the tanker, the old cantilever steel beam structure with scary grated roadways collapsed and fell into the bay. The entire mid section between the towers fell dragging a greyhound bus with 24 aboard and several cars went into the water. The official death toll was 28.

Just months earlier, it was at almost this exact spot that the Coast Guard cutter Blackthorn was struck and sank by the tanker Capricorn. Twenty-three men died and there is a Memorial at the north end of the Bridge.

I was there soon after it happened. An hour later, I was less than four miles away when I picked up the Coast Guard chatter and as the freak storm passed and it was safe to fly, I went to Albert Whitted Airport and got into the air, ten minutes later, I was above the scene looking to help as an airborne observer.

I will never forget it. I couldn't even get on channel sixteen so much activity and chatter from rescue helicopters and rescue boats, it was an unbelievable sight. And the sky was getting crowded. Friends of mine later recanted they were on the bridge, heading to Manatee when cars in front of them stopped. They were eight or so cars from the edge.


The new Sunshine Skyway Bridge connects Pinellas and Manatee counties. It is graceful, colorful, a beautiful yellow gold that makes for a stunning sundown. Its twin suspension towers look almost like two sailboats.

Built in 1987, there are four lanes of traffic. It is almost 200 feet above the water and till now could accommodate most of the high cruise and tour ships that frequent Tampa bay. The newest “Super Cruisers” exceed the 200 foot clearance and there is talk of a cruise port being built before the new bridge.

The channel passage beneath the bridge has been widened from 800 to 1,200 feet. And the new bridge was constructed farther away to the south from that treacherous 13-degree turn in the channel that the Summit Venture failed to negotiate.

The old approaches to the bridge were turned into recreational areas and a great spot to get good pictures. The fishing is excellent with almost all of Florida's species available and those on the approach bait shops will be more than happy to coach you.

Bait and rentals are reasonable. Since they saved the two approaches to the center span, you see plenty of fishing activities at all times. They border the deeper channel and that means bigger fish in deeper water. Many of the locals I know like to fish the SKYWAY and they seem elated since the channel is a natural highway for every specie to migrate through.

The key is knowing the tides and the weather, I went by myself, really caught nothing of value, went with a buddy who I think talks to fish and we caught fish all day. Plenty of books on Florida Bridge Fishing. It's the old luck versus skill...

You park right where you want to fish, either side of the pier. The bait shops are at the ends. You can buy frozen or live bait, lures, rods, & tackle if needed.

These are state parks and the "World's Longest Fishing Piers" so there is a small fee per car and person to fish for 24 hours.

NOTE: Both the north and south piers have basic facilities plus a place to buy bait or rent a rod. But the public restrooms accessible sometimes run out of essential paper products. Here is a list of things we have in the car.

Numero uno, SUNSCREEN, you get get cooked to well done out there! I keep it in the cooler, feels good when you put it on, sunglasses, a hat, drinks, plenty of water or Gatorade, and sandwiches, snacks, a folding chair is nice, some paper towels or towels, a portable radio for entertainment and some "eau de toilet de paper". The entrances to the piers, north or south have full facilities in terms of cleanliness and being well stocked.

Visited May 2013
3 Thank aljacobs2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minot, North Dakota
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Fishing was Fun!!”
Reviewed May 15, 2013

No fishing liscense needed! $4 per vehicle and $4 pp to fish for the day! It was about $20 pp for the poles and bait.

Visited May 2013
2 Thank Heidi P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
39 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed May 14, 2013

Take a stop on the fishing pier or rest stops to look back at the bridge and get some fantastic photos. The bridge graces the skyline.

Visited May 2013
Thank jenjen40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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