The uninhabited island of Boca Grande Key is part of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge and lies 14 miles west of Key West
Boca Grande Key, a sailor and explorers overview
The Boca Grande area is one of our more favored 'go to' overnight locations primarily because it has the only anchorages with any kind of protection between Key West and the Dry Tortugas. The uninhabited island is part of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge and lies 14 miles west of Key West. Filled with mature mangroves and an elusive inner salt pond, much of the island is home to several species of aquatic birds that are on the federally endangered and threatened list.
Where we anchor, the current often runs swift during tidal changes and swimming is discouraged near the boat during those times. Couples will often use that time period for their own private paddle board or kayak excursion. We can also lower our tender (dinghy) and take about a 30 minute tour through the old growth mangrove forest on the north side of the island. The trees have twisted roots like dreadlocks reaching into the water. You'll find yourself ducking your head to avoid a branch ever now and again. As you maneuver through the mangrove tunnels and nearshore shallows you are greeted by Herons, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Anhingas and the occasional Osprey. They like it here because these shallows provide an abundance of food for them. You can easily see that life is teeming just below the waters surface with hundred of fingerlings and baitfish.
The east side beach is a great place to chill, have a beverage or picnic and to view a sunset from shore. This is really the only place to walk along the shoreline on Boca Grande and also the place where smaller boats are able beach. There has been occasional 'Beach Closed' notice, and because of that, we've seen a significant decrease in boater traffic. It is becoming quite and peaceful again. In the past, we have seen the beach overrun with people and their pets and this was likely put in force as a way to protect the wildlife and shoreline habitat.
We encourage our guests to enjoy a dinghy ride to a few particularly interesting shallows toward the NE corner that offer perfect opportunities to sharpen their snorkel skills. While practicing their skills they are greeting by an amazing cache of living queen conchs, giant horse conchs, caribbean lobsters and an occasional octopus. If lobster season is open and guests are licensed, we will happily help them catch a lobster or two to add to our dinner dish.
Past the sandbar and up towards Mullet Banks, there is a partially exposed wreck that offers some fun snorkeling and free diving options at deeper depths. The partially exposed wreck is usually lined with camera ready Cormorants perched just above the waterline, a variety of smaller colorful fish swimming about the wreck and an occasional stingray or turtle in this area.
Days end at Boca Grande Key nearly always bring out some of the best sunsets we've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Quite honestly, while your sitting pretty on S/V Tortuga with a beverage in hand, the smell of dinner in the air and those golden and red colors in the sky, you know you're right where you want to be.
BOCA GRANDE KEY - 15 Miles from our Homeport (3.5 Hours sailing time)
Guest may select from a list of activities here:
a. Uninhabited Island beach exploration and Bird Watching ~ We lower our tender (dinghy) and take about a 30 minute tour through an old growth mangrove forest on the north side of the island. The trees have twisted roots like a dreadlocks reaching into the water. You'll find yourself ducking your head to avoid a branch ever now and again. It is an active rookery where birds such as double-breasted cormorants, brown pelicans and white & blue herons are common place. They like it here because these shallows provide an abundance of food for them. In these shallows, you can easily see that life is teeming just below the waters surface with hundred of fingerlings and baitfish.
Snorkel - Western Sambo Reef/Eastern Dry Rocks Cuban Chub Viewing - Marquesas
Mangrove Expedition/Dinghy Tour – Boca Grande Beach Stroll/Hermit Crab Races - Marquesas
Underwater Shelling & Lobster Hunt – Boca Grande Wreck Snorkel/Freedive - Marquesas
Beach Stroll – Boca Grande Turtle Krawls