Visitor Activities

Visitors Arriving

St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge offers visitors many activities, such as kayaking, fishing, hiking and biking. Pack a picnic and enjoy St. Vincent’s pristine view of the Gulf of Mexico. Combine it with some photography, birding, or fishing and you have a perfect day.

  • Hunting

    Promo Hunting 150x118

    St. Vincent Island offers some of the most unique hunting opportunities found on any wildlife refuge. For hunters wanting to rough it and go after “big game” there is the primitive weapon (muzzle and bow) Sambar deer hunt. This elusive deer which is native to Southeast Asia can measure up to 6 ft. tall and can weigh up to 700 lbs. The 200 permits for this hunt are issued through a lottery that attracts between 1200 and 1400 applicants. Permits for the two other hunts, white tailed deer archery hunt and white tailed deer primitive weapon hunt, are issued to the first 250 applicants. ($35 fee). The application process is done through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Total Licensing System. Camping is primitive and all supplies must be carried to the island and transported on foot to designated camping areas.  Unlimited hogs and raccoons may be taken during all three public hunts.

    St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Regulations Brochure

    Harvest Summary

  • Fishing

    Both freshwater and saltwater fishing are available on St. Vincent Island. It is possible to catch anything that swims in the Gulf of Mexico - redfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, flounder, tarpon, whiting, black drum, sheephead, and black tipped sharks.

    Fishing in designated areas of the Refuge is allowed in accordance with state regulations.  Consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for fishing license requirements, seasons, limits, and regulations.

    Surf and bank fishing are allowed year round.  Four of the six permanent lakes on St. Vincent Island are well stocked with largemouth bass and bluegill (hand-painted bream color variant).

    Boats are allowed in Refuge lakes from 15 May through September 30. Electric motors are allowed on boats in season but all other motors must be secured to a designated motor rack.

    The use of live minnows as bait is prohibited.  The taking of frogs and/or turtles is prohibited.

  • Hiking and Biking

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    Over 90 miles of trails were built on the island but many have been converted to fire breaks. Cycling on the Refuge is more popular than ever since the addition of oyster shell to the main Refuge road on St. Vincent Island.  Native material was added to B Road all the way from the Indian Pass hunt camp, past the historic Refuge cabin, to the West Pass hunt camp.   Trail maps are available at kiosks near the boat dock on the western end of the island. Most of the biking roads and hiking trails are inland, so bikers and hikers should be prepared for biting insects in dense but beautiful forests.  Don’t forget your fishing pole!

  • Wildlife Viewing


     On St. Vincent Island, there are a number of sand roads that are open to foot and bicycle traffic; however, there are few trail signs, road signs or directional signs, so visitors are on their own exploring the island. Access to the primitive beaches, dense stands of cabbage palmettos, wild vistas over marshes, and Bay waters provide excellent wildlife viewing and photography for visitors.

    Birding can be an enjoyable activity for any visitor to St. Vincent Island. Shorebirds, wading birds, raptors and song birds make St. Vincent their home. The winter will find several pairs of Bald Eagles nesting on St. Vincent. The nesting areas are clearly marked and those areas are off limits to visitors. The island is on the migration path for birds headed to South America and other warm climates for the winter. Therefore, it is frequently possible to see birds not common to this area. Freshwater lakes 1, 2, and 3 are periodically managed for shorebird use. While viewing birds in these areas it is not uncommon to see a number of alligators. Treat them with respect and maintain a safe distance.

    St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge is proud to be part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife trail: 

  • Environmental Education


    Local secondary school science students, their teachers, and chaperons annually attend a field day on St. Vincent NWR to learn about barrier island ecology, threatened and endangered species, wildland fire, and native fish, wildlife, and plants.

  • Kayaking


    Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable ways to visit St. Vincent Island. It is a short paddle from Indian Pass to the western shoreline. Be observant of the tidal flow. At certain times, it can be quite strong making the short paddle very challenging. Once on the shoreline, you can paddle along the Gulf of Mexico or stay on the bay side and experience the many creeks and coves tucked into the shoreline. Kayaks can be rented from local vendors in the area. Boats are allowed in Refuge lakes from 15 May through September 30.

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive!

    Many wild animals, such as white-tailed deer, are much more active and therefore more easily seen around dawn or dusk. Birds, and coastal waterbirds in particular, are much sought after as photography subjects. However, care must be taken to avoid disturbing these beautiful creatures, especially during the very sensitive spring and summer nesting season. Many shorebird and seabird populations are in decline, due in part to human disturbance. By photographing shorebirds without disturbing them, you help protect and conserve them.

  • Interpretation


    Information is currently provided at kiosks at Indian Pass, 14 Mile, and on St. Vincent Island, and at exhibition booths at local special events and festivals. 

    Key topics for interpretation are: marine turtles, red wolves, the importance of St. Vincent NWR to the estuary system, migratory birds, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the importance of fire in the ecosystem. 

    Please join us in celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week each year in October. This year’s observance included narrated open wagon tours, guided walks, and nature talks by local experts.