Having lived in St Pete for almost a decade and exploring all the best places on the water, I always find myself back at Shell Key Nature Preserve - hidden Paradise in Sunny St. Pete. One of the best features of Shell Key is the diversity of the aquatic ecosystem. The barrier island has several mangrove tunnels that provide a natural habitat for a plethora of saltwater species. Most famously there are frequent sightings of dolphins and manatee, but also several important migratory shoreline birds like egret, ibis, herons, crab species such as mangrove crab, blue crab, and horseshoe crab, jellyfish such as the Cassiopea or also known as upside down jellyfish, inshore sportfish such as snook, redfish, and trout, bird of prey such as the osprey and red-tailed hawks, just to name a few.
Another great feature of Shell Key is that it’s mainly protected from high winds and rough weather conditions since the main barrier island runs parallel to the Gulf of Mexico coastline. The water averages 3-4 feet deep in most sections and is clear to see all the way to the bottom.
In 2017 hurricane Irma carved a new pass through the barrier island making it a beautiful destination to stop and find amazing shells. This is a must-see area, as the water is crystal clear and almost looks like something you would find in the Caribbean islands. Take in the views of nearby Fort DeSoto State Park and the Don Cesar Hotel on St Pete Beach and Pass-a-grille. I even take guests on our tour to a hidden spot on the beach where its private and perfect for a swim. Visiting Shell Key never gets old and is something you must experience if you’re a local or visiting on vacation. Let us guide you on an amazing journey through Shell Key so you can cherish the experience and create lasting memories.