Travel to an uninhabitated barrier island with white sand, warm water and shells galore!

This trip is one of a kind… If you want to travel to an uninhabited barrier island with white sand, warm water, and shelling galore, our ferry to Shell Key from the Fort De Soto boat ramp is a great choice for you and your family!  Our ferry boat operates daily in the spring and summer and nearly every day in the fall and winter. The ride to the island is about twenty minutes and offers great chances to spot dolphins, sea turtles, and even manatees! We also often spot sea birds on the ride to and from Shell Key aboard the green ferry boat.

Once on the island, Shell Key offers great shelling and swimming. Shell Key is also home to a large nature preserve, where nearly half of the island is blocked to allow the native seabirds a section of undisturbed beach. Come out and enjoy a beautiful day of fun in the sun!

For camping enthusiasts, we offer an overnight experience on Shell Key! All you need is your “camper” ferry ticket, a camping permit from Shell Key, and all your camping gear to have an epic night under the stars! This is an unbelievably unique opportunity to camp out on a secluded island.

Shell Key is also a large nature preserve – nearly half of the island is blocked to guests, allowing the native seabirds and sea turtles a section of undisturbed beach. This nature preserve area is home to tons of nesting birds and nesting turtles.

If you’d like to take a ferry ride to Shell Key with us, pack like you’re spending the day at the beach! Bring sunscreen, towels, bathing suits, sun protective hats, shirts and other gear. Shell Key is a pristine island, so there isn’t a bathroom or any type of shop on the island so make sure to come prepared with a cooler full of water, food and drinks.

ATTENTION: Due to the multiple trips that we offer, the boat will not always be present.  While the boat is docked, you will be able to use the bathroom, buy snacks, soda and water from the galley on board.

You cannot bring alcohol, glass, pets, kites, or drones to the island because it is a  wildlife preserve and these items are prohibited.

Ages 12+


Ages 3-11


Ages 2 & Under

No Charge

Camping Available

$50 (permit req.)

Quick Details:

Duration: 3-7 hours | Options of pick up times

Departure Times: (from Ft Desoto): 10am, 12pm, 2pm Daily

Pick up Times: (from Shell Key): 1pm, 3pm, 5pm Daily

Capacity: 49 Passengers | Groups larger than 4 require 1 form of payment. 

Trip Type: Family Friendly (No smoking allowed on trip)

Cruise: Travel to an uninhabited barrier island with white sand, warm water, and shells galore, you can even spot dolphins, sea turtles, and maybe even some manatees!

Camping Available: we offer an overnight experience on Shell Key! All you need is your “camper” ferry ticket, a camping permit from Shell Key and all your camping gear to have an epic night under the stars.

Multiple Departure Locations: This trip departs from Fort De Soto, If you are looking to depart from “John’s Pass in Madeira Beach” Click Here

Cancellation Policy: 24 hours notice or more required.
No Call / No Shows – 100% of trip fare.
Cancellations within 24-hours – 50% of trip fare.

Tampa Bay Ferry is family owned and operated since 1928. We are the only official ferry service to and from Egmont Key and Shell Key.

In the early 1990’s, the sandbar just south of Pass-a-Grille Beach known as Shell Island joined with it’s neighboring island to the south to form one contiguous island. In 2000, Pinellas County acquired a lease from the State of Florida to establish Shell Key (a.k.a. Shell Island) as a Wildlife Preserve and today, Shell Key is a pristine white sand strip of Florida paradise.

Begin and end your Shell Key adventure at historic Fort De Soto, a military outpost constructed during the Spanish American War, listed in the “National Register of Historic Places”, and Pinellas County’s largest park. Fort De Soto Park includes 1,136 acres of five interconnected islands.. Explore the fort that is still equipped with 12-inch rifled mortars and two British breech-loading 6-inch Armstrong rapid-fire guns. Fort De Soto has been rated the number one beach in the entire United States.

Cruises we think you may like



There is a $5 fee per car, Payable by Plate with multiple kiosks available to enter Fort De Soto or the Shell Key Lot.  This fee is to enter the county park and is not something we have control over. However, we wanted to make sure you were aware of this fee. Also, depending on your route to the park there will be at least one small toll to pay. Also the boat is entirely cash only so it does help to come prepared with some extra cash above the cost of the trip.