Egmont Key State Park is a wildlife refuge in Hillsborough County just 37 miles south of Tampa.
This beautiful secluded island, at the mouth of Tampa Bay, is accessible only by boat and features historic ruins and an 1858 lighthouse that is still standing. This historic lighthouse was once the only lighthouse between St. Marks and Key West. Today it is one of many that is maintained by the US Coast Guard.
Visitors enjoy exploring the historic ruins of Fort Dade to glimpse up close the gun batteries that were built here to defend Tampa Bay after the Spanish-American War of 1898, and to walk along the brick pathways where 300 military personnel resided until about 1923.
The park also offers guests opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking and bird watching.
This beautiful Florida state park takes about a day to explore and enjoy. Plan ahead to be sure you have enough time to discover the ruins and any other activities that you want to do such as swimming, shell collecting, fishing and bird watching. And remember to bring in what you need, this remote park does not have drinking water, concessions or restrooms.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Egmont Key State Park:
Boating at Egmont Key State Park
Remote Egmont Key State Park is only accessible by boat. Guests are welcome to arrive on their own watercraft or use the ferry service from Fort De Soto. If arriving on your own vessel be aware that pets are not allowed on the island.
Swimming at Egmont Key State Park
Make sure you plan some time to enjoy the beautiful waters at Egmont Key State Park. Take a refreshing swim in the blueish-green water after exploring the park’s historic ruins.
Bring snorkeling gear for a chance to discover the sunken structures around the island as well as the opportunity to see the beautiful sea life that exists within these clear waters. Please be aware: there are no lifeguards on duty.
Hiking at Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park features about 6 miles of historic walking trails throughout the island. The main trail, The Fort Dade Walking Path, leads guests through the historic ruins of Fort Dade, a military base and community that existed here long ago.
Many brick pathways branch off from this trail and spread through what was once an active community with 300 residents.
Fishing at Egmont Key State Park
Don’t forget to bring along your angling gear and a Florida fishing license for a chance to catch snook, snapper, grouper, sea trout and tarpon. Be sure to check in with the ranger’s office to learn about the park’s designated fishing areas and practices.
Birding at Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park houses an important refuge area for around 30,000 nesting shorebirds. The south end of the island is a protected nesting area and closed to the public. Brown Pelicans, osprey, White Ibis, Black Skimmers, American Oystercatchers, Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls are part of this refuge.
Nature and Wildlife at Egmont Key State Park
The remoteness of Egmont Key State Park makes it an important area and habitat for many species of wildlife. Gopher tortoises, box turtles and many nesting birds are protected inside this federal wildlife refuge; many shorebirds may be seen along the southern end of the island. Guests may also expect to see manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.
Pets at Egmont Key State Park
Pets are not allowed at Egmont Key State Park. Be sure to make alternative plans if you will be traveling with your pet.
Camping Near Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park contains a primitive day use area only and does not have any overnight accommodations for visitors. The park is located near Tampa and several other state parks, campgrounds, hotels and resorts.
Here are a couple of popular options nearby:
Caladesi Island State Park has a marina with 108 boat slips for guests traveling aboard their own vessel. Each slip has electric and water hookups and access to concessions, picnic areas and restrooms.
Little Manatee River State Park is located at 215 Lightfoot Road in Wimauma, about 40 miles north of Egmont Key State Park. This state park features 30 campsites for tents or RVs. Each site has electric and water hookups, a picnic table and fire ring. Restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities are located in the middle of the campground.
Egmont Key State Park
4905 34th St South, #5000
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Egmont Key State Park: