Imagine a 2-day, 1-night backpack guided camping excursion to an uninhabited island nature preserve sitting on the Gulf of Mexico. Accessible only by boat, Shell Key Preserve is home to nesting loggerhead turtles and shorebirds, including ospreys and roseate spoonbills. In the waters, Shell Key is surrounded by dolphins, manatees, and other sea life. Your experienced guide will help you explore the 1,800 acre island preserve on foot, swimming and snorkeling, and by kayak. Your first day will end with a stunning sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. This is a small-group tour, with a maximum of 4 persons.
Your primitive camping adventure starts at the Tierra Verde Marina, near St Pete Beach, Florida. You'll board one of our boats for a private transport to Shell Key Preserve, in Pinellas County, Florida. There you'll spend 2 days and 1 night with an experienced guide who will help you get the most out of your time on the island. Itinerary Day 1 At approximately 9am, you'll board one of Island Ferry's boats at the Tierra Verde Marina, and head out to the Shell Key Preserve campsite. We'll start out on the Grand Canal of Tierra Verde, passing by the homes and mansions. We're likely to see dolphins and perhaps manatees on the way as we travel through the Gulf. The boat will pull us onto the beach where we'll unload the camping gear and begin camp setup. By noon, the campsite will be set up, and we'll have had a snack or possibly lunch on a freeze-dried camping meal. We'll discuss your personal preferences on the activities for the rest of the day, and what the options might be given weather and tides. We could take a mile and half hike up and down the Gulf beach, collecting all kinds of shells along the way (shells with living creatures inside must remain on the island). We'll also snorkel on the Gulf along the way and back. Toward the end of the first day, you'll learn how to set up a campfire for cooking. Soon after, you'll watch an incredible Florida sunset over the Gulf of Mexico right from the beach. That evening we'll roast marshmallows or s'mores over the campfire before turning in for the night. Itinerary Day 2 Expect a beautiful Florida beach morning, with a camping breakfast before heading out for a quick kayaking trip, or snorkeling time. Early mornings are a great time to see the dolphins right off the beach, almost close enough to swim with. Then it will be time to begin breaking down the campsite in preparation for the mid-day boat pickup. You'll learn how to abide by the "leave no trace" camping guidelines that are so important for the environment. Once we are picked up by the boat, its another beautiful ride past the wildlife and sealife.