The Northern Most Barrier Island – Anclote Key
The Anclote Key lighthouse sits on the southern tip of Anclote Key, off the Coast of Pasco County, Florida at the mouth of the Anclote River. Historically, it is known for its sponges which are found on the bottom of the Anclote River and along the Nature Coast. But to locals it is where you go for sun, surf and sand!
This island draws locals in droves who love to take their boats and personal watercraft out to soak up the sun, walk the beach, go shelling, swim and visit with other island lovers.
It has also become a popular destination for tourists who visit the island as part of their vacation. Charters from Pasco County run out to the island on a regular basis and pontoon boats and can be rented at multiple places so visitors can navigate their way to the island on their own.
In 1852, Walter Lowe, captain of the schooner Chestnut, anchored off Anclote Key and over several days secured a cargo of sponges. He made such a huge profit that others mirrored his endeavor and the sponge trade was born in Florida.
Anclote Key is a pristine slice of the Florida of yesteryear. The word Anclote is a Spanish word meaning anchor. The island is about 180 acres and around four miles long, and almost a mile wide.
The key is made up of four islands and continues to grow as sand accumulates along its length. The islands are Anclote Key, North Anclote Bar, South Anclote Bar and Three Rooker Island. Anclote Key is the northernmost island of the 320-mile chain of barrier islands which protect much of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Anclote Key Preserve State park has been preserved in a primitive state. Since it is accessible only by boat and is remote, the island attracts many birds that tend to avoid human contact, making the park a key destination for bird watchers. The park is home to at least 43 species of birds, including the American oystercatcher, bald eagle and piping plover.
Primitive camping is available on the North end of the island along with picnic pavilions and grills. Visitors must bring water and supplies as there are no provisions on the island. Plenty of sunscreen and bug spray is also recommended. Camping is free but before you go call 727-469-5942 and check in.