A great scenic kayak adventure to one of Crystal Rivers best primitive island camping spots. See an abundance of wildlife including plenty of Florida’s sport fish – Red Drum or “Redfish”, manatees, dolphins, and the occasional raccoon on this getaway island that only the locals know about!
Take Fort Island Park Rd (Hwy 44) all the way until it dead-ends, it will end at Fort Island Park. The park also has a sandy entrance for paddle or small crafts to the left of the main boat ramp. This area is very popular for fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating.
Leaving from the boat ramp or beach entrance, Shell Island is directly North of Fort Island. It is a 35-45 minute kayak paddle depending on the tides and weather, but pay close attention to incoming boats because this area is prone to high traffic due to the main channel. If taking a motorized craft, be aware to stay close to the channel because this area is known for oyster and sand bars during low tide. Also, if taking a motorized craft pay close attention to changing tides if leaving the boat docked at the island overnight, the tide change here is very dramatic and can leave your boat beached until the tide changes again. Docking on the east side of the island is recommended due to the island blocking the wind, that is also the main beach area.
Shell Island is not a government run site so the islands campsites are first come first serve, so expect primitive camping only here. There is 1 main campsite in the center of the island, it would be due west if you are on the east shore of the island. There are other areas to camp but the center site is well established with a rock fire pit and plenty of room for a few tents and/or hammocks. During the summer months, the island can become a hot spot for small bugs so if camping with a hammock be sure to bring a bug net! Bug spray should also an essential piece of your pack when adventuring here. Some other wildlife that can be seen around the island often are manatees, dolphins, redfish, spotted trout, Spanish mackerel, and black drum. The occasional raccoon can be seen on the island too, so keep that food stowed away and be on the look out!