Living in Florida can be a pain sometimes. The hustle of busy city traffic can be frustrating, and sometimes we just need a little getaway from it all. You can make an island escape at the stunning secluded Egmont Key Nature Preserve in Tampa, and it is the hidden island paradise you'll never want to leave.
Egmont Key, a 280-acre island oasis off of Florida's west coast, is easily one of nature's finest hidden gems. Not only is it a place full of rich Florida History, but their stretches of undeveloped beach give you some of the best views of the bay - the most perfect place to forget your everyday stresses.
Let the island breeze and the shimmering turquoise hues whisk you away from your everyday worry, even if it's just for a moment. Take a swim or snorkel, go fishing, sunbathe, or hunt for seashells - the ways you can enjoy the island are everywhere around you.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the trip to this secluded island is the boat ride - either on your private boat or on the public ferry - there is no other way to get to the island.
If you want to see more than just the beach, explore the ruins of Fort Dade, an abandoned military fort known for its role as a military outpost for the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars. You can even see a 100-year-old lighthouse that's still fully functional.
According to information on Visit Florida, the lighthouse stands at 87 feet tall and has been in operation since the 1850s. It is now one of Tampa Bay's oldest structures - making a truly unique local site seeing destination.
The island also provides important habitats for nesting sea turtles, gopher tortoises, over 30,000 nesting pairs of birds, and other wildlife. Many people have been known to see manatees swimming about along the coast during their visit too.
This stunning little island oasis is great for aquaphiles, history buffs, and animal lovers alike; No matter which way you decide to experience this stunning slice of nature, you'll never want to leave.
Location: Located off the west coast of Florida, southwest of Fort De Soto State Park; due to the island's secluded nature, you'll need to take a boat to access it's sparkling sandy beaches. If you own a boat, you can launch off of the Fort Desoto boat launch and navigate your way, take the Fort Desoto Ferry for $25, which embarks at different times depending on the season. Or you can book a trip with one of the many boat charters in the area.
Hours: 6am-9pm, 7 days a week.
Why you need to go: One of the most stunning places to get sweeping views of Tampa Bay. Crystal clear turquoise waters for swimming and snorkeling; you can even explore ruins of the historic Fort Dade, and explore a 100-year-old lighthouse. A unique island getaway for the adventurous spirit.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.