Thursday, November 4, 2010

Egmont Key

One of the dolphins we saw
on the way to Egmont Key
After a fantasy getaway to Hogwarts and Margaritiaville, my wife and I were looking for a vacation activity that was a little more natural and water related. After an internet search of possible activities, we decided to take a boat ride to Egmont Key.
We hopped a ride with the Tropical-Island-Getaway ferry based out of the Gulfport Municipal Marina. Aboard the ferry, named the Quest, with Captain Randy at the helm and assisted by Captain John, we and eighteen other passengers enjoyed a smooth ride out to Egmont Key. As we were leaving Tampa Bay, dolphins played in the boats wake, offering us our closest look at dolphins outside of an aquarium. We have kayaked near dolphins as we paddled off the North Carolina and South Carolina coast, but never paddled as close to them as they were from the Quest. Along the way, we also passed out from under the cloud cover and arrived under more sunny skies.
Thirteen miles later, having arrived at Egmont Key, Captains Randy and John anchored the boat near the shore. Passengers climbed down from the bow by descending an aluminum ladder suspended from the port bow. Stepping into about a foot and a half of water, we slowly walked to shore, shuffling our feet in the sandy bottom to scare away any hiding stingrays.

Donning our own masks, fins, and snorkels, we explored around the collapsed remains of an old power plant. Once located in the middle of the island, due to erosion, most of the power plant is now in the ocean. While our snorkeling around Egmont Key in no way compared to our snorkeling around Eleuthera in the Caribbean, we still enjoyed the experience. We saw pinfish, a few shells, and stingrays.
Power Plant ruins off Egmont Key

After snorkeling, we enjoyed a small picnic under palm trees on the beach. The white, powder like sand was some of the finest and cleanest sand we have ever seen. There were few, if any, bugs. The sun was warm. A gentle breeze was blowing. As we looked out over the Gulf, we could even see patches of turquoise water reminiscent of the Caribbean. All that was missing was our sailboat and rum punch.

After a couple hours on Egmont Key, we and the other passengers climbed back aboard the Quest. Our return trip more or less followed the same course we took out, but in reverse, except for a small detour to Fort De Sota County Park, where we encountered some more dolphins.
The Gulfport Municipal Marina, homeport of the Quest, offers clean, air-conditioned restrooms with showers. The small store also sells packaged snacks and bottled water, soft drinks, and beer. A few picnic tables are also availble near the store.


bonnie said...

Fantastic dolphin shot!

John Edward Harris said...

I anticipate a letter from the dolphin's lawyer asking for royalties.