The island is about 2.5 miles long and has about 180 acres of dry land. However the entire preserve covers over 1700 acres, including Shell Key, some smaller islands, and many acres of shallow water grass flats and mangroves. Significant sections of the island are off-limits to humans because they are a wildlife preserve.
Shell Key is popular with boaters, nature lovers, kayakers, snorkelers, shellers, fishermen, campers, and astronomers, who take advantage of the dark nights on the island without lights.
Go during the week if you prefer a quiet experience. Weekends bring lots of recreational boaters that converge on the island to party.
Plenty of shops and Food Choices. Also it is the home of The Pier Aquarium.
There are boat slips on the south side, southeast and northeast. A word of caution, the slips are cement and a little dated. They serve their purpose but it's dock at your own risk and there is no dockmaster. I hope this helps and please enjoy your visit. (David Mayberry)
Although this park is primarily a wildlife refuge, it can be a personal refuge - a place to relax and collect shells along secluded, pristine beaches. Accessible only by private boat, Egmont Key has a unique natural and cultural history, including a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. During the 19th century, the island served as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War and was later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. In 1898, as the Spanish - American War threatened, Fort Dade was built on the island and remained active until 1923. After touring the historic sites and trails, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach.
The water is particularly beautiful, especially during the spring and early summer. Snorkeling is popular around the submerged remnants of old Fort Dade. There are no cars on Egmont Key, and camping is not allowed.