Egmont Key Ferry
If you want to spend some time on a beautiful pristine island paradise, the ferry to Egmont key state park from Fort De Soto is a great choice for you and your family for a day of fun in the sun with Hubbard’s Marina. Our ferry boat operates from the Fort De Soto bay pier daily in the spring and summer and nearly every day in the fall and winter (check the schedule for exact times and days of availability). The ferry ride to the island is about twenty five to thirty minutes and offers great chances to spot dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even manatees! We also often spot sea birds on the ride to and from Egmont Key Island aboard the Tampa bay ferry or our big green boat.
Once on the island, Egmont key offers great shelling, swimming, and exploring opportunities. There is even a large fort on the island named fort Dade. This fort dates back to the Spanish American war era and is spread out along the island’s interior. Egmont key is also home to a large population of native gopher tortoise. These large slow moving tortoise are an endangered species so you can’t touch them, but they make for great photos as you spot them throughout the islands interior.
Egmont Key is also home to a large nature preserve nearly half of the island is blocked to guests allowing the native seabirds and sea turtles a section of undisturbed beach. This nature preserve area is home to tons of nesting birds and nesting turtles and we cruise around it when you take the snorkeling cruise option.
The snorkeling cruise is another option while out on the island with us at Hubbard’s Marina. The snorkeling cruise is $15 per person and offers about an hour in the water for confident swimmers. We snorkel the sunken ruins of fort Dade, or the grass flat beds depending the weather and conditions at the island. The snorkeling cruise is first come first serve and you reserve this on your way out to the island on our boat. So if snorkeling is something you really want to do we recommend taking the earlier ferry ride to the island so you will definitely have a chance to get reserved on the snorkeling trip before it fills up to capacity. If you need to rent snorkeling gear (Mask, snorkel and fins) we will provide this to you for a $5 rental fee. This means for a ferry ride to the island, snorkeling and snorkel gear rental the entire trip is only $40 per adult and $30 for kids 11 and under since kids are half price or ten dollars on the ferry boat to the island. Kids and adults are all $15 to snorkel since spots are limited on that cruise.
If you’d like to take a ferry ride to Egmont key with us, pack like your spending the day at the beach bring sunscreen, towels, bathing suits, and sun protective hats, shirts and other gear. Egmont key is a pristine island there isn’t a bathroom or any type of shop on the island so make sure to come prepared with a cooler full of water, food and drinks or you can pre purchase a lunch box option for $9.99 when your making your reservation at least 24 hour in advanced. The lunch option includes a sandwich, bag of chips, granola bar, soda, and water! The boat has a bathroom so when on the island you can always come back to the boat to use the bathroom or buy snacks, soda and water from the galley on board the boat.
You cannot bring alcohol, glass, pets, kites, or drones to the island because it is a state park and these items are prohibited.
The kits and drones are not allowed due to it being a wildlife preserve.
Ferry from Fort De Soto to Egmont Key
$20 round trip ride on the ferry boat
($10 for kids 11 and under)
For information, call the main office at (727)398-6577
Daily Egmont Key Ferry from Fort DeSoto County Park
US Coast Guard Certified Tour Boats
- 46 foot ferry
- Refreshments/snacks available
- Covered, comfortable seating
- Open deck area, easy ramp access to beach
- Clean restroom, modern snorkeling equipment
- All tours fully narrated, informative and fun
“Interested in knowing more about Egmont Key
– read http://www.egmontkey.info
You can make your ferry reservations by phone 24 hours in advance or you may show up the day of the trip and reserve your spot at the ticket booth. Tickets available on a first come first serve basis.
Fort DeSoto Ferry to Egmont Key Schedule
A fertile community resides in the seagrasses on the east side of Egmont Key. At low tide, snowy egrets, american oyster catchers and sometimes blue heron search for fish, shrimp and mollusks in the rich waters. Just off the seagrass beds are the giant sand dollar beds that we sometime visit snorkeling.
You’ll see these all over Egmont Key. Despite their reputation for being slow, these turtles are surprisingly fast.
You will come upon them as you walk the paths of Egmont Key, but don’t disturb them or let the kids pick them up. The gopher tortoises live in burrows, and sometimes share their space with lizards, frogs or snakes. You might see a mound of soft sand in front of a burrow- it could contain eggs.
Egmont Key & Fort Desoto Regulations
No alcohol is permitted in state and county parks.
Interior sand is extremely hot. Bring water. Wear shoes while hiking, take caution on uneven walkways.
Do not handle turtles! Watch, take pictures, and let them go their way.
Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.
No littering. All trash must be taken back on the ferry boat and disposed of properly.
Follow maps, roads and paths.
When hiking and exploring around the ruins of Fort Dade, do not damage structures or remove artifacts.
Beach and Swimming Cautions
This trip is for agile people without physical challenges, not for anyone who may be at risk.
If you expect to snorkel, good swimming skills are required. You will encounter deep water,
mild to strong currents and other natural water conditions.
Flotation devices are available, also instruction on snorkeling.
No lifeguards on duty.
Do the “stingray shuffle” while wading.
No climbing on the rocky ruins off Fort Dade.
The Natural Beauty of Egmont Key
▪ Approximately 400 acres, 1.6 miles
long, less than 1/2 mile wide.
▪ Seagrass beds on the east beach
nurture marine life.
▪ Southern end of the island a bird
sanctuary, the site for twice-yearly
Audubon migratory bird count.
▪ Parts of the interior designated as a
▪ Beach erosion has depleted the prime
nesting area for sea turtles.
▪ Prolific population of the gopher
Come relax or play on our beach
Boating is available
Fishing is allowed in designated areas
Walk through the historic ruins of Fort Dade or along the brick paths that remain from the days Fort Dade was an active community with 300 residents. Gopher tortoises can sometimes be seen as you walk the historic paths. Many visitors are treated to the sight of hummingbirds and other seabirds.
Picnic tables are available
Swimming is available in designated areas
Wildlife viewing is possible at this park
ANNUAL DISCOVER THE ISLAND EVENT
The “Discover the Island” fundraiser is one of Tampa Bay’s gems! The 157-year-old lighthouse is still working to guide ships into Tampa Bay. Come see its majestic spiral staircase and participate in the many activities sure to enlighten all ages. See Civil War re-enactors, stroll the island on our self-guided walk with interpretive sites along the way, including nature, wildlife, military and history. There will be children’s games, a silent auction each day and a viewing of the lighthouse. This year we will have live birds of prey from Boyd Hill Nature preserve on Saturday only. Live music will be by singers performing period music and sea shanties. Food, drinks and souvenirs will be available for purchase on the island. Shuttle ferries will be leaving Fort DeSoto Park from 9 am to 2pm, with the last ferry returning to Fort DeSoto at 4 pm. Ferry ticket prices: Adults $18, Youth 6-11 $5, and Children 5 and under are free. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more adults. Tickets can be purchased at the ferry departure site at the Bay Pier parking lot. Follow the brown ferry signs to the location. Discover The Island is the 18th annual fundraiser for the Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Citizen Support Organization of Egmont Key State Park, dedicated to protecting, restoring, and preserving the island. To get more information please go to www.EgmontKey.info. If you still need additional information, call 813-361-7563.
HISTORY OF THE EGMONT KEY ALLIANCE
The Egmont Key Alliance was founded in 1991 with the goals of restoring, preserving and protecting Egmont Key and all of its resources both natural and man made, for people to enjoy now and for future generations.
We have assisted with restoring historic buildings, invasive species removal, beach re-nourishment, sea turtle nesting, protection of nesting seabirds, education of the public and government leaders, and providing a place for recreation that is family friendly.
We have partnered with other historic and environmental organizations in the Tampa Bay area to raise awareness of all that Egmont Key has to offer. For information on our partner organizations, go to our Membership page.
When you become a member of the Egmont Key Alliance you can be a part of “restoring, preserving and protecting” Egmont Key and assist the Florida State Park Service in its goals. There are benefits to membership also. We have several partner organizations that offer discounts on either membership or admission to their venues.
- Individual Membership $25 Annually
- Family Membership $40 Annually
- Corporate Membership $100 Annually
- Student Membership $15 Annually
- Individual Life Member $750 One Time
- Family Life Member $1000 One time
You can download a Membership Application and mail it to the Egmont Key Alliance, P. O. Box 66238, St. Pete Beach, FL 33736 or complete and online membership. Click on the Become A Member button above to access printable application.
PURPOSE AND GOALS OF THE EGMONT KEY ALLIANCE
The purpose of the Egmont Key Alliance is to support and assist the efforts of the Florida Park Service:
- · To restore, preserve and protect the island’s ecosystems
- · To preserve the Keys historic structures
- · To develop visitor friendly educational and interpretive programs
So that today’s visitors and tomorrow’s generations may enjoy Egmont Key’s unique historical, recreational and natural resources.
Goals – Ongoing and Long Term
- Erosion Control/Renourishment:
To continue to educate and assist the Army Corps of Engineers, Pinellas and Hillsborough County officials, State legislature and Congressional Leadership about this critical problem and possible solutions.
- Lighthouse Restoration:
Assist and work with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Coast Guard for a property resolution (ownership) resolution so that restoration plans can proceed. Also, to continue research into the lighthouse and to explore possible funding sources for restoration.
- Guardhouse Restoration:
Now that the Guardhouse has been restored and interpretive displays added, continue to add more displays that are relevant to the history and natural resources of the island.
Millions of people visit Fort De Soto each year, and very few realize that the fort they see is only one part of the naval defenses that were created to protect Tampa bay at the time of the Spanish American war. On nearby Egmont Key, Fort Dade, with five batteries, was built. The guns of Fort De Soto and Fort Dade jointly controlled the shipping channel between them. In addition, Fort Dade controlled the channel on the other side of Egmont Key as well.
The lighthouse was built in 1858.Anyone who finds Fort De Soto interesting should make a point of visiting Fort Dade too. It’s a MUST SEE! The military base was actually bigger than Fort De Soto. The small town included even a bowling alley. Wander along the red brick streets, still in good condition!
Lighthouse of Egmont Key Celebrates
On an absolutely stunning Florida day, the Egmont Key Lighthouse stood gleaming white, resplendent against a cloudless azure sky. Luminous from a new coat of white paint, the150 year old Lighthouse was visited by dignitaries and ordinary people, who all came together to celebrate the century and a half of guidance the Lighthouse has provided the ships that flow into the mouth of Tampa Bay.
Egmont Key Time Line
The area visited by Spanish
Explorer Celi surveyed the island,
erected a wooden cross and named it
“Isla de San Blas y Barreda”
Bernard Romans charted the island,
calling it Castor Key after a local
Britain obtained control of Florida,
their surveyors renamed the island
Egmont Key for the Earl of Egmont
Florida was ceded to the US from
Spain 1848 The first lighthouse was
completed, then destroyed by a
hurricane the same year
The existing lighthouse was
reconstructed to withstand any
storm, fitted with a Fresnel lens
and Argard kerosene lamp Late 1850’s
Seminole Indians held on Egmont Key
before being transported to Oklahoma
Union Navy used Egmont Key as a
blockade, (the Confederates took the
Fresnel lens from the lighthouse
before they evacuated), a cemetery
was established for war casualties
With the threat of the
Spanish-American war, construction
on two forts was begun, Fort Dade on
Egmont Key, and Fort Desoto on
Mullet Key. Egmont Key used as a
quarantine station for soldiers
returning from Cuba, in order to
contain smallpox. In 1906, Fort Dade
was a small city of 300, with
electricity, telephones, movie
theater, hospital, school, and red
The Tampa Bay Pilots Association
began operations to pilot vessels
through the main channel to the
WWII- the island used by the
military for surveillance
Egmont Key designated as a National
The Florida Park Service, with the
US Fish & Wildlife Service,
established Egmont Key as a State