Boating and Yachting
Boating in Gulfport, St Petersburg Florida and Boca Ciega Bay
Boca Ciega Bay is bordered by the cities of Gulfport and St. Petersburg and many boat and yacht owners have the pleasure of keeping their boats and yachts either in front of their homes and condos whiles others use the numerous, closely located public and private marinas or dry storage areas to launch. Yacht basins and marinas located on Boca Ciega Bay offer some of the most protected marinas. Boat owners can either cruise the protected water of the Intracoastal Waterway and visit the many waterfront restaurants or go and spend the evening in St Petersburg, Clearwater or Tampa and stay the night. For those seeking a longer passage Captiva Island, Cabbage Key and Key West are some wonderful options.
The Bay is only a couple of nautical miles from the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf beaches offering easy access to west Florida's best cruising destinations. Boat and yacht owners can spend the day on Shell Key or Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge and State Park which was established in 1974 for the protection of migratory birds and has had a colorful military past. Five artillery batteries from historic Fort Dade, in service from 1898 until 1923 are located on the island. Egmont Key offers excellent diving and snorkeling experiences and the original lighthouse on the Island is still used for navigation today.
Boca Ciega Bay holds an abundant amount of fish due to the number of keys and islands. These include Little Bird Key, Dog Leg Key, Gulfport, Middle Ground, and Eleanor Island. Another great reason to come and fish this area is because of the mangrove shoreline and submerged habitats such as oyster bars, seagrass beds, and coral. The Bay has great water conditions as a result of the waterways emptying into Boca Ciega Bay and is perfect for artificial bait, live bait, and fly fishing.
For nature lovers, some of the largest, most diverse bird areas in Florida are available and nearly all of the Gulf beaches are used by nesting loggerhead turtles. Located in the vicinity of John’s Pass are three islands and these mangrove islands are surrounded by shallow grass and sandbars, and provide excellent bird foraging habitat. Brown Pelicans, herons, and egrets nest on Little Bird Key and Bird Rookery Key. All three islands are protected as bird sanctuaries.
If speed is what you want, the Gulfport Grand Prix is hosted in April, featuring 120 mph Formula 1 powerboat races and transforms downtown Gulfport into a mecca of activity along the shores and Beach Boulevard.