(Last Updated On: January 9, 2023)
River on a cloudy day at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

River on a cloudy day at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park. Photo: en:National Park Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

An expansive and undeveloped salt marsh stretches across Florida’s Gulf Coast offering visitors a glimpse back in time. Pristine tidal creeks and lush hammock of live oaks, cabbage palm and red cedar trees greet visitors as they arrive by boat.

Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park is accessible only by boat between Cedar Key and Yankeetown, 54 miles south of Gainesville.

This serene wetlands area provides opportunities for saltwater and freshwater fishing, primitive camping, kayaking and bird watching. As visitors to this Florida state park paddle into and throughout the preserve they are delighted to encounter many wildlife species, including sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins.

Activities

Escape from the fast paced modern world for a few hours or even a couple of days. You’ll love every minute that you get to spend inside this gorgeous and rustic preserve! So pack your fishing gear, binoculars, camera, maps, guides and plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks and spend some quality time in the great outdoors – fishing, birdwatching, primitive camping, paddling and more.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park:

Boating at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

One of the best ways to experience this beautiful scenic area is by boat. The preserve is surrounded by 19,000 acres of tidal marsh and 20 miles of coastline. These creeks and shallow water areas are ideal for fishing, birdwatching or just enjoying a quiet paddle.

Guests who bring their own canoes, kayaks or other hand held boats may launch into Waccasassa Bay at one of a handful of nearby boat launches. There are no launches inside the preserve but boat ramps/launches are available in nearby Yankeetown, Cedar Key and Gulf Hammock. There are many places to rent kayaks, canoes and other boats in Cedar Key.

Fishing at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Plan a relaxing day inside Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park. Pack a picnic lunch and your fishing gear. The preserve’s tidal creeks and saltmarsh contains many species of both fresh and saltwater fish. Shellfish, redfish and speckled trout are just a couple that you may catch during your visit here. Don’t forget to pick up a Florida fishing license ahead of time.

Birding at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Many species of birds may be seen throughout Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park’s undeveloped areas of tidal creeks, salt marshes and lush hammock. Both native and migratory wading birds and waterfowl may be sighted within this area, especially during spring and fall migration periods.

Some birds to watch for are the bald eagle, American Oystercatcher, osprey, gulls, Brown Pelican, Black Rail, Black Skimmer, Great Egret, Magnificent Frigatebird and the Florida Scrub-Jay.

Nature and Wildlife at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

This expansive wildlife preserve of undeveloped hardwood forest, salt marsh, hammock and tidal creeks is home to many different species of wildlife.

Visitors to this area are encouraged to bring their binoculars and tread carefully throughout the park. Doing so will increase your chances of seeing Florida black bears, raccoons, squirrels, gray foxes, bobcats, many species of birds, deer, turtles, otters, alligators, saltwater fish, crabs, dolphins, and manatees.

Pets at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Pets are allowed within Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park as long as they are well-behaved, supervised and kept on a hand held leash no longer than 6 feet.

Camping at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park offers 3 primitive campsites for guests interested in spending the night in the park. These remote camping areas are only accessible by boat and on a first-come, first-served basis. If planning to spend the night be sure to carry water and all of your needed supplies, there are no facilities nearby.

More information and directions to these sites may be found in the Big Bend Segment 6 of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

Camping Near Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

For guests who are interested in spending the night in a campground that does offer facilities check out Rainbow Springs State Park, located at 19158 SW 81st Place Road in nearby Dunnellon.

This state park features 60 campsites nestled along the river and just a few miles from the spring day use area. Each site has electric and water hookups, a picnic table and grill. Showers, restrooms, a laundry facility and a camp store are all within walking distance to campsites.

Rainbow Springs State Park also features hiking trails and picnic areas that overlook the gardens and man-made waterfalls, plus opportunities to kayak, canoe, snorkel, tube, fish, and bird watch.

Park Location

Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park
8312 SW 125th Ave
Inglis, FL 34449
Phone: 352.543.5567

Park Website

Map