a visitor’s guide to Shell Key …

Get everything you need to visit Shell Key and learn more about this wonderful local destination.  We have information on boat navigation, wilderness camping, visitor rules, science and history of the island and the surrounding waters.  Shell Key Preserve is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay & requires a boat to visit.

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Article: a visitor’s guide to Shell Key …
20 comments on “a visitor’s guide to Shell Key …
  1. Robert Lewis says:

    Hello Jack, we are Visiting Treasure Island next month, thinking about bringing my own boat. A 17 foot motorboat where’s the best place to Launch to visit Shell key
    And do some snorkeling?

  2. Julie C Minda says:

    Can you use a blow up boat?

  3. Katie Lind says:

    Is kayaking to the key plausible? It sounds like it is from the article. Where would one launch with their own boat? Thanks for the info!

  4. Sarah says:

    How have the recent algae blooms affected the waters surrounding the island? Thanks!

    • Jack Coletti says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thankfully, the algae blooms caused by the runoff from Lake Okeechobee have not reached as far north as Shell Key. I have heard reports of murky water from people sailing south of Sarasota. However, we can expect an increase in algae just from the increased sunlight during summer. Most of this algae is harmless – although there may be occasional red-tide algae blooms. There is also a concern about the water quality on the inside of Shell Key due to the recent closure of the north pass. Hope this helps.

  5. Tanya says:

    How clear is the water at shell key? We are renting a boat and would like to do some snorkeling at shell key and egmont key.

    • Jack Coletti says:


      The water clarity really depends on a variety of conditions. As a general rule, the water is more clear on the gulf side – and murky on the interior side. However, storms and algae blooms can reduce the visibility at any time. The water on this entire coast is generally not as clear and on the east coast of Florida.

  6. Alex says:

    Hi Jack, Are there Coral Reefs at Shell Key island?

    • Jack Coletti says:

      Hi Alex,

      There are no natural coral reefs in the vicinity of Shell Key. We don’t really have any significant natural reefs in this part of the gulf. There are artificial reefs (made from a base of concrete debris) a few miles offshore – good for both diving and fishing. And there are some areas with coral “hard bottom” – also a few miles offshore. In general, you need to go south toward the keys to see any significant natural coral reefs.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  7. daniel zindle says:

    Are there seasonal camping times? Or can you always camp on the island?

    • Jack Coletti says:

      Hi Daniel,

      You can camp all year round. I don’t personally do a lot of island camping in the middle of summer, but you can enjoy the island 365 days a year.

  8. Caprice says:

    How can I visit Shell Key? Cost to get there? I would like to look for sand dollars. Any information would be appreciated. I’m in Largo. Thank you.

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