Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is accessible by boat only. Because of its small size and importance to wildlife, the refuge can support only limited public use. The interiors of all islands, except for Atsena Otie Key, are closed to the public to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Atsena Otie Key (Historic Timeline)
Most public use at Cedar Keys is focused on Atsena Otie Key which is owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District and managed as part of the refuge. Here visitors will find a pier, interpretive information, composting toilet facility, and a walking trail that leads to a 19th century cemetery. An Indian midden and historic ruins of the Faber Mill are readily visible from the island entrance from the pier.
Part of Seahorse Key, including the lighthouse, is leased by the University of Florid as a Marine Research Laboratory and classroom and is closed to the public. On the third weekend of October, the Refuge and University host an Open House where the public is invited to visit the lighthouse.
The beaches of all other islands are open for public use with the exception of Seahorse Key from March 1 through June 30 annually when it is closed to all public entry, including a 300 foot buffer surrounding the island, to protect nesting birds. Interiors of all islands have thick undergrowth as well as poisonous snakes.
When accessing the islands, it is important to pay attention to the weather and tide conditions. All islands are surrounded by shallow mud flats. During low tides, they become relatively inaccessible by boat.
There are many other activities available at nearby Shell Mound Unit of Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, including fishing, boating, ranger programs, and wildlife observation.