ANCLOTE KEY PRESERVE STATE PARK
Enjoy the blue-green Gulf of Mexico waters that lap gently along the sandy beaches of the four islands that make up Anclote Key Preserve State Park - Anclote Key, North Anclote Bar, South Anclote Bar and Three Rooker Island.
The 11,773-acre park is home to at least 43 species of birds, including the American oystercatcher, bald eagle and piping plover.
A picturesque 1887 lighthouse stands as a sentinel on the southern end of the island. Visitors can swim and sunbathe at the beach, fire up a grill and enjoy a picnic, or pitch a tent and enjoy a night of primitive camping under the stars.
There are no provisions offered on the island, so be prepared to bring your own water and supplies.
Ferry service to the island is offered by these providers
Odyssey Cruises 727-934-0547
Private Island Charters 727-534-8818.
These ferries leave from Tarpon Springs' historic Sponge Docks
Windsong Charters, 727-859-0213
Island Paradise Charters, 877-774-0589
Private Island Charters, 727-534-8818, run charters from Pasco County.
Ferry services do not drop off visitors for overnight camping. You must have your own transportation to stay overnight. Dogs are allowed only on North Anclote Bar.
There are two compostable toilets on Anclote Key. One is located at the north end of the island and one a short distance from the lighthouse compound.
The lighthouse at the southern end of Anclote Key has served as a beacon to ships for many years. President Grover Cleveland declared the island a lighthouse reservation in 1886.
The lighthouse was built and began operation on September 15, 1887. Today the lighthouse is maintained as a historic structure.
When the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984, vandals had their way with this old island sentry, defacing it with graffiti. The structure's finish began to oxidize in the salty air of the island, leading to further destruction of the lighthouse.
In the early 1990s, Florida Park Service staff, along with the Gulf Island Alliance, reconstructed the lighthouse and returned it to its original state.
Today, a park ranger resides on the island watching over the old sentinel of the sea, just as it has watched over the countless vessels crossing its path.
Primitive camping is permitted on the very north end of Anclote Key. There is a compostable toilet for use in that area.
There is no water or any other amenities, so you will have to bring everything that you need.
Remember to pack it in, pack it out.
Swimming is an excellent way to enjoy the clear blue waters that make up the park.
There are no lifeguards on duty. Swimming is at your own risk.
The park has nearly 12,000 acres of beautiful gulf waters making Anclote Key Preserve State Park a boaters paradise. You also can access the islands by ferry from Tarpon Springs or New Port Richey.
Due to the sensitive nature of these islands, boaters are reminded that pets are permitted only on North Anclote Bar. Pets must be on 6-foot handheld leash at all times.
The fishing is outstanding throughout the park. Anglers report catches of sea trout, redfish snook and sharks.
Shell collecting along the beaches is a favorite activity. Collecting of live shellfish is prohibited.
The clear blue waters that make up the park are an excellent spot to snorkel and observe the abundance on sea life under the surface.