Peaceful early AM kayak tour before the heat - Shell Key Preserve

A self-supported trip created by DanielPedersen

Trip Overview

Visiting FL, Tampa/St. Pete area on the gulf coast barrier islands. Left my kayaks at home 1000 miles north, so looked for early morning kayak rentals before things get too hot. Eventually found Get Up And Go Tampa Bay who have a 7:30 am 2 hour tour of the Shell Key Preserve - mangrove islands with tunnels, sheltered coves, sandy beaches; shallow sea grass beds, plenty of birds and fish jumping out of the water.
Tour started from Billy’s Stone Crab at 1 Collany Dr (looks like a private launch that isn’t public), past God’s Island and below Pannama’s Island covered with mangroves to a shady mangrove tunnel between two islands. Very quickly on the way, cormorants joined us to catch fish stirred up by the paddles. They dive under our boats and pop up nearby. Also skimmers, spoonbills, gulls, ibises, white egret.

Continuing on from the mangrove tunnel we cut across the southern channel to Shell Key, a narrow sandy strip that separates us from the Gulf. There is a Pass where water rushes through when the tide shifts so watch for rip currents. Along the way hundreds of fish were jumping out of the water - our guide Jenna said they were either mullet or leatherjackets.

Beached the kayaks for a break to enjoy the sandy beach, go for a swim in the Gulf or the bay, find shells. Coordinates from Google maps : (27.6708962, -82.7423467)

Returned along the northern stretch of Shell Key back past the condos to the starting point. Just under two hours at a leisurely pace. There is much more to cover there, we only did a small part of the Shell Key preserve that is protected from the Gulf of Mexico - the area extends down into Fort DeSoto Park

If you're going to paddle in this area, our wise guide Jenna mentions that you should check the tides - at low tides the whole area is muddy and "you'll be walking."

keywords: Shell Key Preserve, Tampa Bay


Early morning paddle, before July heat. flat water, very light breeze, sunny

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 7/5/2024
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location