Visitor Activities

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Approximately 165,000 visitors come to Egmont Key NWR annually. Currently, the Egmont Key Guard House building on Egmont Key NWR has been restored to someday function as a visitor center and island museum.

  • Hunting

    No Hunting

    Hunting is not allowed.

  • Fishing

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    Fishing is allowed only in certain designated opened shores of Egmont Key. These are prime spots for reeling in seatrout, tarpon, snook, grouper and snapper, just to name a few. Keep in mind that there are several closed beaches that do not allow any entry and no fishing from the shore. All fishing regulations fall under state fishing regulations, including size, number and method of capture and season. A Florida issued salt water fishing license may be required to fish from shore and/or from any vessel type around the island’s shores. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s, Fishing in Florida website:

  • Wildlife Viewing


    Egmont Key’s pristine habitats make it a safe haven that supports over 117 species of nesting, migratory, and wintering birds, provides nesting habitat to the threatened Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles and protects an unusually large population of gopher tortoises and box turtles. Egmont Key holds the highest density of gopher tortoises in all of Florida with over 1,500 of these tortoises in just 280 acres. Gopher tortoises are so common on Egmont Key, that visitors may encounter them on almost every trail, year-round.

    From April to August, Egmont Key’s beaches are colonized by the sights and sounds of thousands of birds nesting and roosting together within the wildlife sanctuaries. Egmont Key supports more than 35,000 pairs of colonial beach-nesting birds. Royal and sandwich terns, brown pelicans, and laughing gulls make up the majority of the colony. Known as colonial nesters, these birds find safety in numbers. Egmont Key holds the highest nesting colony of laughing gulls in the entire state of Florida. Over 7,000 pairs of royal terns have nested on Egmont Key, which makes it one of the highest nesting royal tern colonies in the state. Around 550 pairs of black skimmers have also nested on Egmont Key NWR. Although the nesting colonies lie within the closed bird sanctuary boundaries, visitors can see hundreds of these birds foraging around the island’s shores. In addition, there are several species of wading birds wondering the island and over 10 species of shorebirds can be commonly seen from most of the island’s shores, including a few that nest on the island during the summer months (e.g. oystercatchers). 

    Snorkeling around Egmont presents visitors with an underwater experience of its own, including underwater encounters with the submerged historical structures batteries Burchstead and Page, that once laid on dry ground. These structures often host corals, tunicates, sponges and many fish species worth viewing from a unique underwater historical realm.

  • Interpretation

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    Egmont Key offers several miles of paved and dirt interpretive trails that mainly stretch from North to South of the island. These trails offer over 30 interpretive panels that describe what many of the present Fort Dade ruins once represented, along with other kiosks and panels describing Egmont Key’s unique habitats and wildlife that make it the most spectacular national wildlife refuge within the 3 Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges. The Guardhouse offers several wildlife and history exhibits for visitors to learn about the island’s diverse habitats and heritage of Egmont Key, among many other natural history and cultural topics.

    On the second Saturday and Sunday of each November, visitors can celebrate Discover Your Island Days where Civil War re-enactors stroll the island to teach visitors about the island’s history, along with Park Rangers and many volunteers who eagerly share with visitors some of the secrets of the islands natural wonders. Visitors enjoy learning facts and participating in hands-on family activities about Seminole native American history. 

    For more information visit: or call 813-361-7563.

  • Environmental Education

    Due to the island’s location and lack of restroom facilities, on-site environmental education isn’t offered on Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge. However, the Friends of Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges offer environmental education programs throughout many areas in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay while covering topics pertaining to some of the wildlife that inhabits Egmont Key. For more information on participating or becoming involved in these opportunities, please link to:

  • Photography

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    Most wildlife photographers who visit Egmont Key focus their camera lenses on the seabirds and shorebirds along the island shores. But Egmont Key has much to offer to photographers throughout most of the island. Several historical gun batteries may serve photographers as elevated platforms when capturing some of the coastal wildlife of Egmont Key and the horizon landscapes that lay within and beyond the island. The island’s inland trails pose an opportunity for photographers to get close to some of the neo-tropical birds that stop over at the island during migration. For those seeking photos of historical ruins and other active (Lighthouse) and retired historical structures (gun batteries, Guardhouse, etc..), Egmont Key offers visitors access to dozens of historical buildings, many which are now only inhabited by some of the native vegetation that holds Egmont Key together.

  • And More

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    Egmont Key has several open white sand beaches excellent for shell collection and bathing. Dead shells that lay on the shore are the only thing that can be taken off the island by visitors. There are also a plethora of fossilized shark teeth that can be found around the island’s shores.