Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Visiting the Refuge


Refuge Hours

7:30 am - Sunset daily
Monday - Sunday.


Pelican Island and its array of birds can be viewed from the refuge's new public facilities located adjacent to the island or by making reservations with one of the local boat tour operators.

The new public facilities on the refuge were opened on March 14, 2003, partnership with Indian River County, as a part of the Centennial Celebration of Pelican Island and the National Wildlife Refuge System. These new facilities are providing the public with the first opportunity, in it's 100-year history, to view the Pelican Island rookery from land and without the use of a boat and explore other areas of the national wildlife refuge. Recreational opportunities at the new refuge facilities include hiking, bird watching, wildlife observation and photography.

Pelican Island can be viewed by boat. There are several public boat ramps to access the refuge waters by personal watercraft. Access to the island itself is restricted to outside of the posted closed area signs around the island. Boating is permitted elsewhere in the open water areas of the refuge within the Indian River Lagoon. Boaters are cautioned to observe posted manatee slow speed zones in the Refuge.

There are plenty of local boat, kayak and canoe tour vendors that offer rentals or daily trips to view Pelican Island. Reservations are strongly suggested, as times and availability may vary due to seasonal demand and weather. The tours are guided and offer educational opportunities about Pelican Island and the Indian River Lagoon. Viewing the island by boat offers excellent, up-close bird watching and photography opportunities.

Fishing is permitted in the open water areas of the Refuge. There are good fishing opportunities for redfish, snook, sea trout, mangrove snapper, and other popular sport fish. State fishing regulations apply within the Refuge. Fishermen can recycle or discard their used monofilament fishing lines at area boat ramps. Fishermen are encouraged to use biodegradable cotton braided fishing line where available.

Recreational shellfish harvesting is permitted in the Refuge, but outside of the designated commercial shellfish leases. Raking for shellfish is not permitted in the refuge.

A Boater's Guide to the Indian River Lagoon contains information on boating regulations, recreational saltwater fishing regulations and license fees, crab-shrimp-shellfish regulations and much more.

Last updated: November 3, 2008