Anclote Keys Florida: Discover This Mysterious Island Chain

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Anclote Keys Florida is a group of islands off the coast of this beautiful state. They are known for their sandy beaches, clear waters, and abundance of marine life. The islands are home to various wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles.

You can enjoy kayaking, fishing, and swimming. The Anclote Keys are a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the Florida sunshine.

On the southernmost point of the island, a charming lighthouse built in 1887 acts as a sentinel.

At the beach, visitors can swim and sunbathe, grill food and have a picnic, or set up a tent and spend the night camping in the wild.

This park is historic and located three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs. It’s only accessible by boat.

Local tour guides offer tours inside the lighthouse. Another highlight of this island is the Anclote River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. It is popular with boaters, fishermen, and divers.

The Anclote Keys are a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Anclote Key Florida aerial view

Discover the four islands that make up Anclote Key Preserve State Park

  1. Anclote Key
  2. North Anclote Bar
  3. South Anclote Bar
  4. and Three Rooker Island

The seas of the blue-green Gulf of Mexico softly lap down the sandy beaches of these islands. At least 43 different bird species can be found in the 11,773-acre park, including the American oystercatcher, bald eagle, and piping plover.

These islands are all well-liked by boaters who bring their beach chairs, umbrellas, paddleboards, and snorkeling equipment for weekend excursions.

All are barrier islands that are located three miles or less from the mainland, with Tarpon Springs being the closest settlement.

Anclote Key, a four-mile-long natural refuge with sand beaches, a maritime hammock, mangroves, and seagrass beds, is the largest of the islands.

High tide has totally submerged North Bar.

The shape, size, and quantity of the islands that make up Three Rooker Bar are continually changing.

Three Rooker Bar today consists of two tiny eroding islets and was named for the historical three wooden huts (since destroyed) placed on the bar for the collecting of guano.

You’ll find a variety of unique wildlife on the island, many of which can be found nowhere else.

  • The island is home to hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles, as well as over forty species of birds.
  • Ospreys, piping plovers, oystercatchers, eagles, and black skimmers are just a few of the birds that call Anclote Key home.
  • Anclote Key State Park’s islands are crucial for bird nesting, feeding, and resting.

If you want to explore the island, you might also consider visiting Anclote Lighthouse, which was operational until 1984. It was heavily vandalized but has been restored to its former glory.

There are no bridges or causeways leading to the islands; only boats may access them.

On Anclote Key, a State Park Ranger resides and works full-time. Visitors are urged to leave only their footprints and take only photographs.

Dogs are not permitted at Anclote Key or Three Rooker Bar since they are nature preserves.

The main goal of this is to safeguard local island wildlife, including breeding and resting birds.

Dogs on 6-foot leashes are allowed on North Bar, a sandbar north of Anclote Key.

Dogs can play on 6-foot leashes at the dog beach on Honeymoon Island, which is to the south.

Lighthouse at Anclote

Anclote Key Lighthouse

The state park system and personnel own and operate the lighthouse, which is a historically significant component of the state park.

When the Friends of Anclote Key schedule open houses and when conduct private tours, the lighthouse is accessible for climbing.

On any given day from dawn to sunset, visitors can always approach the secured fence around the lighthouse to obtain a close glimpse.

Nearby public amenities include picnic tables, a pit toilet, and instructional signage.

For additional information on Open Houses, Private Tours, and the History of the Lighthouse, kindly see other sections on this website.

Camping at Anclote Key

The sun is sinking, but you’re still not prepared to go?

No issue.

One of the few public parks in Florida that permits basic beach camping is Anclote Key Preserve.

Anclote Key is less than four miles from the Florida mainland, yet a night or two of camping here will make you feel as though you’ve been whisked away to a secluded island retreat.

Only in the remote campsite area on the island’s northern tip is camping allowed.

Anclote Key Florida Camping

Campfires and beach camping are both acceptable, but no trees should be torn down.

Put dead limbs on your campfire as fuel!

Fire up the grill for a barbeque by the beach, and forget the noises and sights of civilization for a time. Take in the splendor of the starry night sky.

Waves might be your bedtime music, and songbirds can wake you up in the morning. If you take a morning stroll, you might spot herons and roseate spoonbills in the mudflats.

Before setting up your tent, keep the following in mind:

  • Although Anclote Key Preserve includes grills, picnic tables, a pavilion, and composting toilets, you must bring your own food and beverages.
  • Calling the local ranger will enable you to register for camping.

Advice for Traveling to Anclote Key

The park is accessible year-round from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Bring your own water, food, and supplies, and take everything with you when you go because there are no shops or snack bars on the island (or any other services or amenities, for that matter).

At Anclote Key, there are no lifeguards on duty, so use caution when swimming (you may learn more about the state of the local water from the flags at the welcome station).

Only in the remote campsite area on the island’s northern tip is camping allowed. Campfires and beach camping are both acceptable, but no trees should be torn down. Put dead limbs on your campfire as fuel.

There is a composting toilet in the campground, but that’s about all.  Campfires are permitted on the beach, but barbecues are not available.

Take everything out and bring everything with you.

Raccoons do live on the island, and because they don’t drink much, you should take care to keep your food and water supplies safe from nosy (and hungry) animals.

Strong bungee cords that are tightly wrapped around any cooler that holds food or water will be beneficial.

I frequently hoist a kayak over the cooler at night as well.

It is not permissible to cut living limbs from trees or brush, however, you are allowed to gather dry wood and dead limbs from the ground.

You must construct your fire below the high tide line, the rangers ask.

Wrapping Up

Anclote Keys are a beautiful and unique place that is definitely worth visiting.

There is a lot to see and do, and the scenery is simply stunning. If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature, this is definitely the place for you.

Although camping is free, visitors must make an appointment. In case of emergency, have your boat’s registration number, the number of campers, the arrival and departure dates, and the contact phone number of the island handy.

With its crystal clear waters and abundance of marine life, it is an ideal spot for snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

If sleeping under the stars on a tropical island appeals to you, consider visiting Anclote Key.

So if you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Anclote Keys are the perfect place for you.

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