Egmont Key is a real Florida treasure. Not only is it a National Wildlife Refuge, it is home to some gorgeous beaches, and interesting historical ruins. To get there you will need a boat. We took a ferry from Fort Desoto Park. You will have to pay a nominal fee to enter the park. From here you can park your car and catch a ferry to Egmont Key.
The boat leaves on time. For example, our ticket was for 11:30 a.m. and the boat was boarded and moving by 11:32 a.m. Be in line for the boat early.
The ferry ride is about 25 minutes. The ferry drops everyone off on the shore opposite from Fort Dade. This is also where they will pick you up a few hours later. Our return time was 3:30 p.m. There are no facilities, no food, and no drinking water on the island. You’ll want to pack some snacks and enough water for everyone in your party.
What to See on Egmont Key
From shore it is a short walk to the lighthouse. Built in 1848, the lighthouse helped guide ships to Tampa.
If you are standing in front of the lighthouse you will see a path right behind it. We followed this path to see the remains of Fort Dade’s battery. The path eventually winds to the left and you will see the first battery on your right. Battery McIntosh.
If you follow the path to your right you will see Battery Howard. This is also where we saw our first Gopher tortoise. He was just walking along the path.
The last Battery, Battery Mellon is in my opinion the best ruins on the island. When you come upon it looks like you are in a tropical jungle.
We continued following the path to the right and this brought us to the beautiful white sand beach. We spent a considerable amount of our time here swimming before we walked down the beach. Once we were near Battery McIntosh we walked back down the path towards the remains of Fort Dade. We saw another tortoise on the path.
The path eventually turned into a wide red brick road with remnants and foundations of an abandoned fort. From these remnants you can see how Egmont Key was once a small city. They had a hospital, post office, school and more than 70 buildings on the island.
We continued our walk straight to the shore. At this point to our right was the Shore Bird Refuge, which is closed to the public and to our left was the beach. There were way less people here and the beach had less sea grass, so we spent the remaining our time on the island swimming in the warm water.
While we were in the water waiting for the return ferry we were very lucky to have a huge manatee swim right past us.