|Learn how to navigate safely around Shell Key Florida. Boating in Shell Key Preserve is carefully regulated to protect sea beds and marine estuaries. Please observe all posted boundaries and no-wake zones…
Before you go:
The north and south ends of the island are divided by several navigational barriers and shallow areas. Consider your boating route carefully, based on which side of the island you plan to visit. Examine the other navigational maps on this page to avoid shallow areas where you can run aground. Check the tide predictions for the date and time you intend to visit. Low tides can make some areas more difficult to access and can expose other navigational hazards. See the diagrams below for details.
|Getting to the North Public Use Area:
The north public use area of Shell Key is most easily accessed from the Pass-A-Grill channel just north of the island or from the Gulf.
Getting From the North end to the South End:
Warning!! There are many ways to run aground while traveling from the north public use area to the south public use area. Essentially, you have 2 choices. Either travel out of Pass-a-grille Pass into the gulf and return into Bunces Pass on the South – or you can come from the Skyway Bridge Channel in Tampa Bay. Never try to travel south on the east side of Tierra Verde – these waters are not passable! Notice that both Pass-a-grille and Bunces Pass have sand bars flanking them along their channels. The bars extend extend well out into the gulf and are a major navigation hazard. when navigating in our out of the pass. See the green lines below for the best route. Always use a depth finder.
From Fort Desoto Boat Docks – or the Skyway Bridge Channel:
- Motor boats are restricted to idle speed in permitted areas only.
- Be prepared to show boat registration, life vests and safety equipment to law enforcement at any time. Do not overload your vessel and keep a VHF radio and cell phone for emergencies.
- Be observant of other vessels and always give way to large vessels which have limited maneuverability.
Anchoring at Shell Key
- Always be aware of the current tides when choosing an anchoring location. If you arrive at high tide, you may find your boat “high and dry” when you want to leave at low tide. Many a boaters have been stranded overnight because they did not watch the tides.
- Do not anchor in channels or a fairway.
- Keep a safe distance from other boats that are already anchored. Allow for a margin of error that takes into account changing wind and tides.
- Double Anchoring: Larger boats should use a bow and a stern anchor to keep their boat in place near the beach. Here is a video showing one method for double anchoring. We recommend pointing the bow of the boat away from the island when double anchoring – to keep the waves from coming over the back of the boat.
Browse the area with google maps…