Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge is located off the northern tip of Anna Maria Island and south of Egmont Key. It became a National Wildlife Refuge in October 1905 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order.
In the early 1900’s, Passage Key was a 60 acre mangrove island with a fresh water lake. Today the key is a low-lying sandbar which fluctuates in size with the water level covering zero to ten acres.
The Key serves as a bird sanctuary for migrating and nesting birds. More than 50 species of birds have used this key including nesting American oystercatchers, black skimmers, royal and sandwich terns, and laughing gulls. Due to it’s small size and nesting birds, the island is closed to public use so you must explore it from the water.
Although the key itself is closed to public use, it is a popular boating destination. Boaters anchor offshore to enjoy the white sand and turquoise water. Don’t be surprised to see nude people wading in the water offshore as the key is clothing optional.
Let Captain Sal take you on an Anna Maria Island boat tour to explore the waters around Passage Key. If you don’t wish to encounter nudists or want an actual beach to enjoy and island to explore, he can take you to Egmont Key instead.