Unless you’re a boater, you may not have heard of this hidden gem in the Gulf of Mexico, where you can camp on quiet shores not far from the bustle of the Suncoast.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park includes four islands that lie near the mouth of the Anclote River, offshore from Tarpon Springs: Anclote Key, North Anclote Bar, South Anclote Bar and Three Rooker Island.
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Location: Offshore from Tarpon Springs
Restroom: Composting toilet near the camping area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset daily. Dogs are allowed only on North Anclote Bar.
If camping, you must come by private boat. Ferries will not drop off / pick up campers.
Anclote Key State Park is offshore from Tarpon Springs and must be reached by boat. Spongeorama Cruiselines is one of several outfitters that offers daily Dolphin Adventure Cruises that include a trip to the island. Book in advance.
About the Park
As you draw within sight of the 1887 lighthouse, prepare for a Robinson Crusoe experience: bring water, food, and a tent. The camping area is located at the north end of Anclote Key.
You’re welcome to camp on these secretive shores at the designated camping area, located at the north end of Anclote Key.
The islands are a mecca for birders, and an important destination for beach nesting birds such as the piping plover. Most of the islands are a bird sanctuary, so do not disturb birds, especially during nesting season.
An annual Lighthouse Day, typically the first Saturday in May, lets you climb up and survey the islands from the top of the lighthouse. It is hosted by the Anclote Key CSO, but you must get to the island yourself.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Along the Pinellas Trail, Wall Springs Park showcases a historic spring and mangroves along the Gulf of Mexico
A paved ribbon stretching the length of Pinellas County from Gulfport to Tarpon Springs, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail provides cyclists with more than 38 miles of low-stress cruising
An offshore getaway accessible by car, bike, or paddle, Honeymoon Island State Park offers white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, which keeps it busy on weekends. The northern portion of the island, upland pine forests fringed with mangroves, hosts colonies of ospreys and pelicans nesting.