The Gulf Coast of Florida is well-known for its sugary white shoreline, crystal clear waters, and surplus of fun in the sun activities. While the beaches of Gulfport and St. Petersburg are a must for our guests, we also highly recommend a visit to the hidden gem known as Shell Key, FL. Shell Key is a 1,828-acre preserve located in Tampa Bay with a 195-acre barrier island. Only accessible by private boat or ferry, this secluded paradise is a popular spot for nature lovers, fishermen, and those looking for a peaceful getaway. Interested in learning more? Read on to discover one of Florida’s best-kept secrets!
Shell Key, FL is just one of the many places to visit during your dream getaway. Discover even more local attractions, activities, restaurants, and much more when you download your free copy of our Gulfport Vacation Guide!
Getting to Shell Key, FL
If you want to experience the superb shelling, sunbathing, swimming, and wildlife viewing opportunities at Shell Key, you can easily get there by way of the shuttle. The Shell Key Shuttle is open to the public and safely transports 49 travelers to the island per trip. The shuttle is located at the Merry Pier and along the Suncoast Beach Trolley Route. Ticket and schedule information is as follows:
- 10 a.m.
- 12 p.m.
- 2 p.m.
- 12:15 p.m.
- 2:15 p.m.
- 4:15 p.m.
- $25 for adults
- $12.50 for children 12 and under
$3 Parking Passes are also available with the purchase of a shuttle ticket.
The Best Things to Do at Shell Key, FL
In the early 1990’s, the sandbar known as Shell Island joined with the neighboring island to form one contiguous isle. Pinellas County acquired a lease for this land to establish a wildlife preserve, which is now called Shell Key. Since then, the quiet island has been recognized as one of the best shelling and birding destinations on the Gulf coast, comparable to Sanibel Island and Captiva! If you’re planning a journey to the Shell Key, FL, here are some of the most popular activities that we’re sure you’ll love.
Shell Key Shelling
This one is a no-brainer! As you stroll along the shore, you’re sure to find a wide array of eye-catching seashells to add to your collection. Just be sure they are vacant of any sea critters before you decide to remove them.
Shell Key Snorkeling
The clear waters of Shell Key, FL make it ideal for snorkeling! What’s even better? Snorkels and masks are provided to your for free when you take the Shell Key shuttle! As you explore the world below the waves, keep your eyes open for more shells hiding beneath the sand.
Lounging on the Beach
Bring a beach chair, your favorite book, and sunscreen for a lazy day on the beach! The absence of any facilities on the island mean you’ll enjoy a completely peaceful and natural setting for a full day of fun in the sun. Just lay back, relax, and enjoy the view!
Search for Wildlife
As a nature preserve, Shell Key is home to a variety of native creatures! Many oceanographers and wildlife observers flock to the island just to get a closer look at these natural residents and learn more about how they live in their natural habitats. As you explore the island, you’ll be very likely to find native birds, marsh rabbits, and possibly even sea turtle nests! If you do happen to find a sea turtle eggs, please leave them be! You are free to admire them from afar, but we ask that you don’t disturb the nests.
Take a Sunset Cruise
After a full day at Shell Key, why not end the evening the right way? The Shell Key Shuttle offers a 1 ½ hour sight-seeing sunset cruise through the residential waterways and barrier islands. You’ll see the historic cypress beach cabins, multimillion dollar oceanfront mansions, and several unspoiled islands upon a stunning burning orange and red sky. This experience is offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for only $25 per adults and $12.50 for children under 12! Be sure to make your reservation in advance!
Escape to Paradise With the Historic Peninsula Inn
After a full day of fun in the Florida sun, return to your room at the Historic Peninsula Inn in beautiful Gulfport. The inn features a variety of suites designed to suit the needs of a wide variety of travelers, from the solo businessperson, to the couple on a romantic getaway, to the family of four touring Old Florida. We even welcome small dogs!
Ready for a Florida beach vacation you won’t soon forget? Book your room at the Historic Peninsula Inn today! We look forward to welcoming you to Gulfport soon.
If you haven’t already, be sure to download your copy of our FREE Gulfport Vacation Guide! It’s chock full of useful tips to help you make the most of your Gulfport vacation.