If you're missing that island life then you're going to want to check this place out. Egmont Key State Park is a secluded island off of Tampa Bay with a significant amount of history, a beautiful beach, and endangered gopher tortoises.
Keep reading to start planning your day trip to this tropical paradise.
This island is only accessible by ferry or a boat if you have one. We drove to the St. Petersburg area which was about a 2 hour drive from Orlando and hopped on a 20 minute ferry ride to get there. We were almost late so make sure to arrive an hour and a half before your departure (there's lots of traffic in that area).
The ferry is $25 per person and there's a $5 charge per car to enter the state park. You can book your tour here. Keep a lookout on the ferry ride for manatees and dolphins swimming around!
We spent most of our time at the beach. The water is so clear and the perfect temperature. We honestly could've hung out there all day, but your ferry leaves you there for about 4 hours. Since the island is primarily a wildlife refuge, there is no where to get food or drinks, so make sure to pack a snack and water!
For me, the coolest part was the history this place holds. While exploring the island we saw a fort that was used during the Spanish American war and a lighthouse that has been up since 1858. Egmont Key was a military reservation for years until 1974 when the Fish and Wildlife Service took over and turned the island over to the state of Florida which then made it into a state park in 1989.
Aside from the history, there's some wildlife here. You'll see birds and endangered gopher tortoises roaming around. You can admire them from afar and take pictures but don't touch them!
This island is a must for locals and people traveling to Florida. It makes you feel like you're on a tropical vacation. Here are some tips we have if you decide to go:
- Use the bathroom beforehand since the island doesn't have a restroom and you're there for 3-4 hours.
- Take lots of sunscreen and an umbrella! There is barely any shade and that Florida sun doesn't mess around.
- Pack water and snacks. Since it's a small island, there's no where to get food once your ferry drops you off. Make sure to take a cooler with drinks and a couple of snacks to hold you over.
- Arrive at least an hour and a half early! The traffic to the state park is unpredictable and the ferry will not wait for you. If you miss your boat, there's no guarantee you can get on the next one.
This was overall an amazing experience and we would definitely do it again. It was the perfect tropical getaway without having to leave the state.