If you love nature and wildlife, don’t miss out on the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve! The preserve contains a massive, 350,000-acre stretch of sovereign submerged lands. It’s teeming with wildlife, and plays host to some truly beautiful sites! Be sure to check it out.
If you love nature, check out all the fun outdoor activities in and around the Gulfport area. Learn more in our FREE Gulfport Vacation Guide!
What’s in the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve?
The preserve offers a variety of habitats for you to view:
- Sandy beaches
- Oyster bars
- Seagrass beds
- Coral communities
- Spring-fed caves
The bay has been dredged, undergone beach renourishment, had seawalls built, and experienced a variety of other projects over the years. Unfortunately, those actions took their toll on the habitat. The preserve seeks to protect the aforementioned habitats and their animals, while also providing tourists and local residents with a beautiful place to visit.
Although the dredging destroyed much of Pinellas County’s coastline, it also piled up islands of dirt. These islands are crucial for maintaining the area’s ecosystem. Birds nest on the islands and in their vegetation, and varieties of marine animals (including dolphins and the occasional manatee) also live and reproduce in the seagrass and other habitats of the islands’ shores. In fact, the preserve is one of the largest, most diverse, and most important bird areas in all of Florida. The preserve also hosts around 1/3rd of Florida’s coral species.
“All it takes is a look underwater to understand why these two aquatic preserves are located in Florida’s most densely-urbanized county. The abundant, diverse aquatic resources must have been a key attraction to early settlers.” Randy Runnels, Aquatic Preserve Manager
Best Way to See Boca Ciega Bay
There’s really no better way to see Boca Ciega Bay than by boat. You can either motor around in the natural beauty, catch some rays in the Florida sunshine, or even go fishing. If you’re interested, there are a number of boat rental and jet ski agencies in the area (Island Marine Rentals, Fun Unlimited Sports, and many more).
All of that sunshine and adventure builds up an appetite! After a day on the water, return to the Historic Peninsula Inn for a delicious meal at our award-winning on-site restaurant, Isabelle’s. Isabelle’s offers scrumptious Southern cuisine and live music 4 nights per week (Wednesday through Saturday). Come see why Rand McNally awarded it their “Best of the Beaches” and “Best of the Road” awards!
After that delicious meal, return to your comfortable suite for a good night’s sleep. The Historic Peninsula Inn offers a variety of accommodations to suit the needs of every person, from the solo business traveler, to the couple seeking a romantic getaway, to the family of four touring old Florida.
The Inn also accepts furry, four-legged canine children in some of our accommodations. You can learn more about our requirements on our Pet-Friendly Lodging page.
If you haven’t already, be sure to download our FREE Gulfport Vacation Guide! The guide is chock-full of insider tips so you can make the most of your Gulfport vacation!