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  • Writer's pictureChrissa Karnes

Exploring Egmont Key: A Hidden Gem Off St. Pete Beach, Florida

Updated: Jun 21



Welcome to the beautiful Egmont Key near St. Pete Beach in Florida! On Saturday, we got dropped off for three hours to explore this island paradise, from its rich history to its wildlife and beautiful beaches. Egmont Key is named after John Perceval, the second Earl of Egmont, and spans just 328 acres. Despite its small size, it boasts a rich history spanning over a hundred years. This once bustling military town was active until 1923 but is now a deserted ghost town that anyone can explore.


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Where is Egmont Key Located near St. Pete Beach in Florida and How Do You Get There?


Photo of Hubbard’s Ferry docked on the shore of Egmont Key, Florida, with a crew member securing the boat. The ferry features bright blue and yellow branding, including images of a dolphin and the sun, and offers island trips, snorkeling, and shelling adventures.
The Hubbard's Ferry to Egmont Key

Egmont Key is an island off the coast of St. Pete Beach in Florida and is only accessible by boat or ferry. The only way to get there is by boat or ferry. We took Hubbard's Ferry by Hubbard's Marina. This is the official ferry for Egmont Key. They did an incredible time, and we had an awesome experience. I highly recommend them for your visit to Egmont Key.


If you would like to purchase tickets, we would love for you to use our affiliate link. We earn a small commission on any purchase you make, and it supports what we do at no additional cost to you! Thank you in advance for your support!


What Can You See at Egmont Key?


Historic Lighthouse


Chrissa in a purple dress and red backpack walking towards the historic white Egmont Key Lighthouse, surrounded by palm trees and greenery under a clear blue sky.
The historic lighthouse on Egmont Key

Built in 1858, the lighthouse is the oldest structure in the Tampa Bay area still used for its original purpose. It marks the north end of Egmont Key and stands as a beacon of the island’s rich history. The lighthouse has an interesting tale where the top was removed by the military to replace the lights and discarded into the bushes.


Fort Dade Ruins

Chrissa in a purple dress and red backpack walking down the historic red brick road on Egmont Key, surrounded by tall palm trees and lush greenery.
Exploring the Fort Dade Ruins

Fort Dade was once a bustling military outpost active during the Spanish-American War. Here you can explore the remains of this historical fort, including power stations, observation posts, bunkers, and the famous red brick road. The fort's ruins provide a glimpse into the past, showcasing a community that once included a movie theater, tennis courts, a gymnasium, and more.


Guard House Museum


The Guard House Museum on Egmont Key, featuring a white building with a red tile roof and a wooden sign in front that reads 'Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge and State Park.
The Guardhouse on Egmont Key

There is a guardhouse on the island that now serves as a small museum where visitors can learn about the island’s wildlife and history. The museum also displays the original lighthouse pedestal that was discarded and later recovered.


Gun Batteries


A person in a purple dress standing in the doorway of a historic white gun battery ruin on Egmont Key, with grassy surroundings and a clear blue sky above.
Exploring the Gun Batteries on Egmont Key is really fun!

  • Battery McIntosh: Built in 1900, this battery was used until 1923. Visitors can climb and explore the ruins, offering a hands-on experience of the island's military history.

  • Battery Howard: Smaller and built in 1904, this battery was deactivated in 1917. It features a few small rooms to explore.

  • Battery Mellon: Known for its incredible view, Battery Mellon was built in 1904 and deactivated in 1920. It’s made from reinforced concrete, and visitors can see coquina shells embedded in the walls.


Beaches and Natural Beauty


Close-up view of the sandy beach on Egmont Key with the turquoise ocean and a boat in the distance under a clear blue sky.
The beach on Egmont Key is covered in shells and shark teeth!

Egmont Key offers beautiful, untouched beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. The clear waters and abundant marine life make it a popular spot for shelling and finding shark teeth. The island is also a wildlife refuge home to various species, including gopher tortoises, dolphins, manatees, and numerous bird species like herons and ospreys. The protected sanctuaries at the ends of the island offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.


Snorkeling and Diving


Two of the gun batteries are now underwater and can be explored by snorkelers. These submerged structures add an element of adventure to the visit.


Nature Trails


The island can be explored on foot via several trails that lead to different historical sites and natural areas. I recommend comfortable shoes for anyone planning to walk the red brick road and visit the various ruins.


Can You Swim at Egmont Key?


Chrissa snorkeling underwater in Egmont Key, Florida, wearing a snorkel mask and surrounded by clear, turquoise water and aquatic vegetation.
Snorkeling at Egmont Key is a great way to find shells!

Absolutely! Once we were done with the fort ruins and gun batteries, we were excited to spend the rest of our time cooling down beachside. The view is just stunning. Snorkeling and shelling are popular activities here, and you’ll find tons of shells and shark teeth along the beach. While I was in the water, I even spotted a manatee swimming just a few feet away from me.


How Long Should You Spend on Egmont Key?


If you take Hubbard's Ferry to Egmont Key like we did, you get 3 hours to explore the island. If you want to spend even more time, you can take your own boat or hire a boat to spend more time there. There are no overnight stays allowed on Egmont Key.


Tips for Visiting Egmont Key


If you are thinking about taking a trip out to Egmont Key, here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • We took Hubbard’s Ferry from Hubbard’s Marina, the official ferry to Egmont Key. They did an incredible job, and we had an amazing experience with them. If you would like to purchase tickets, we would love it if you would use our affiliate link. We earn a small commission on any purchase you make, and it supports what we do at no additional cost to you! Thank you in advance for your support!

  • If you want to get the island mostly to yourselves, take the first ferry out, which for our trip was the 10 a.m. time slot.

  • The ferry departs from Fort DeSoto Pier, within Fort DeSoto State Park, which has a $5 fee to park. There is an information desk where you can check in and get more information about what to expect, as well as a last-chance bathroom before you depart and you definitely want to use that bathroom before you get on the boat because there are no bathrooms on the island, nor is there running water. Plan accordingly.

  • Pack all of your essential beach gear—water, sunscreen, hats, snacks, and bug spray—since there are no stores on the island. You’ll want to make sure you bring everything you need for your trip.

  • If you want to bring a chair and an umbrella, keep in mind that you will have to carry them yourself to and from the ferry, and there is no place to store them if you want to go exploring.

  • The lower half of the island is a nature preserve and is blocked off from visitors, so you can only explore the top half of the island. Remember that Egmont Key is a wildlife refuge, so make sure to keep a respectful distance from any animals and don’t disturb their habitats.

  • Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to explore, especially if you plan to walk on the red brick road to visit the ghost town and any of the gun batteries.


Egmont Key has truly been an adventure filled with history, natural beauty, and unforgettable experiences. From exploring the historic lighthouse and the fascinating ruins of Fort Dade to relaxing on the pristine beaches and encountering diverse wildlife, every moment on the island has been captivating. Whether snorkeling, spotting dolphins and manatees, or simply soaking in the stunning views, Egmont Key offers something special for everyone.


If you're seeking a unique and enriching experience during your trip to St. Pete Beach, I highly recommend visiting Egmont Key. It's a hidden gem that promises to make your trip even more memorable.

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