Shell Key Preserve is in Tierra Verde, Fl in Pinellas county.
Map of Shell Key
Shell Key Preserve is a very long and narrow island a couple miles south of Pass A Grille. It can only be reached by canoe, kayak, or boat.
The island is shaped like the
letter C and it protects about 9 smaller islands from gulf winds and waves. The water around these 9 small islands is only about 1-4 feet deep.
The preserve is beautiful and the water around the island is usually very clear. It's a great place for canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boarding. There are dolphin in the area all year long, and manatees and sea turtles can be found at Shell Key for at least 9 months out of the year. The winter months here are a great time to see dolphins jumping, not those "half jumps" they do behind power boats, but the really spectacular jumps, flips, twists, etc, that you see when you stay back and give them some space and let them just do their thing. When you see a dolphin jump, don't put the camera down, more often than not they will jump 2 or 3 more times. For 9 months out of the year there are always manatees around the island. They often gather in large groups (called aggregations) for mating purposes and can be seen splashing around in very shallow water. Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards can be rented in the area. You can also do tours in clear kayaks/canoes at Shell Key.
There was a pass at both ends of the island. The pass at the north end of shell island is deep enough for most boats to get through easily. The pass at the south end of the Key has filled in, likely due to nearby dredging. The ocean / gulf side of this island is a scenic stretch of beach that is always littered with shells. Hence the name "Shell Key" Preserve.
This Key, like almost anywhere else in South FL, has great fishing. On the east side of the island where all the flats are is a great place to catch redfish. The rest of the Key has good fishing for Speckled Trout, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, Sheepshead and many others.
One of the islands that is protected by shell key is Ponnoma Island. There is an old dilapidated house on Ponnoma Island and the island is privately owned. There is also a dock on the island but it does not look like it has been used in many years. Ponnoma Island is about 1000 feet in diameter. Some of the pictures below are of this island.
Shell Key is managed by Pinellas County Shell Key Barrier Island.
Another of the islands/keys protected by shell key is Sawyer Key. This island is surrounded by water that is only 4 inches to 3 feet deep depending on the tide.