Rules and Regulations


Regulations vary island to island in the Key West NWR, please make sure you "know before you go."

There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge.  Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn’t help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity.  Please check with the refuge management before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself.  There are plenty of activities in Key West NWR for you to enjoy.  Be safe and have fun! 

Allowed Activities:

  • Sport and commercial fishing in accordance with state and federal regulations.  
  • Recreational boating with conventional propeller-driven crafts, kayaks, canoes and sailboats. 
  • SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Make sure to display a dive flag.  Use mooring buoy where available.
  • Wildlife viewing and photography. 

 Prohibited Activities: 

  • Use of personal watercraft, hovercrafts or airboats.  
  • Landing airplanes, helicopters or ultralights.  
  • Camping, open fires or pets on islands.  
  • Search for or removal of antiquities.  
  • Camping on refuge managed islands.  
  • No hunting or discharging of firearms.  
  • Feeding or harassing wildlife strictly prohibited.  
  • Please do not litter. Be especially careful of monofilament fishing line, please dispose of properly (take home). 

Some beach sections on Boca Grande Key and Woman Key are completely closed to public access to protect sensitive plants and wildlife and to prevent shoreline erosion.  All beach sections in Key West refuge are closed to public access above mean high tide.  

There are many island specific Wildlife Management Area regulations for islands and surrounding waters, please take the time to review them prior to visiting.