Longboat Key is a premier travel destination for both wildlife viewing and outdoor recreation. In addition to the stunning scenery, translucent waters, and incredible beaches, the key is also home to a diverse and interesting array of exotic wildlife. It has become increasingly common to take a Longboat Key vacation for the sole purpose of wildlife viewing just because of the amazing range of species and native plants that can be found right on the island.
Exploring the habitats and learning about the local wildlife is a fascinating part of vacationing here. Visitors to Longboat Key can get up close and personal with flora and fauna that they likely have never encountered in their home. From rare and vibrant birds, to woodland creatures and Floridian marine life, there are many types of animals on Longboat Key living a peaceful undisturbed life in their natural habitats. So where are the best places to witness these majestic creatures?
We’ve summarized some of the top nature preserves on and near the island and the best places for wildlife viewing below:
Location: 100 Gulf of Mexico Drive
The Quick Point Nature Preserve is located on Longboat Key at 100 Gulf of Mexico Drive. This beautiful preserve is an important protected habitat full of mangroves and wetlands that provide shelter to several local species.
The Natural Lagoon area of Quick Point is a critical habitat that dates back over 100 years. With lush greenery and pristine waters, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a family picnic or a romantic stroll during your Longboat Key vacation while you check out the nearby wildlife. A variety of crabs, shore birds, and juvenile fish species can be seen here.
You can watch as wading birds explore the waters for their next meal at the Man-Made Lagoon. This area of Quick Point is truly a birdwatcher’s paradise. You ought to pack your binoculars and camera as you witness majestic birds such as ospreys, great herons, and egrets feeding. You can also catch a glimpse of juvenile crabs, conchs, and small fish.
The Quick Point Nature Preserve also features impressive native Red, White, and Black mangroves throughout the park, which are incredible to view in person and play a very important role in maintaining the native animal species.
You’re sure to spot many of the incredible animals mentioned above with a visit to Quick Point Nature Preserve during your Longboat Key vacation. You may even see some dolphins in the bay if you’re lucky!
Location: 5550 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, FL
Joan M Durante Park is located on Longboat Key and offers 32 acres of native habitat and many trails and boardwalks from which you can view an impressive range of local species. It’s another one of the few protected areas on the island where you can walk through native untouched mangrove forests and salt marshes.
Extensive efforts have been made to preserve native flora and fauna here by removing invasive Brazilian pepper trees and Australian pines. The restoration of the habitat has made this park an ideal location for birdwatching on Longboat Key where you can see shorebirds and wading birds, ducks, bald eagles, pelicans, ospreys, belted kingfishers, warblers, terns, herons, egrets, and anhingas.
One of the benefits of visiting this park is that pets are allowed here on a leash. So, bring your four-legged family member with you and explore this scenic preserve on Longboat Key. Take care to avoid disturbing any of the local wildlife and be sure to keep the area clean. Doggie bags and disposal bins are located throughout the park for your convenience.
Strolling through the park after a meal with their pet is common activity for locals who are fascinated by the wildlife. Checking it out in person is a must during your Longboat Key vacation!
Other wildlife related attractions to explore nearby
Mote Marine Aquarium (City Island)
Surrounded by warm, tropical waters, Florida and its islands are home to plentiful marine life. However, seeing these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat can be tricky unless you are a strong and adventurous diver!
Viewing and learning about Longboat Key’s marine animals is made easy at the Mote Marine Aquarium which is right across the New Pass Bridge on the southern end of the key.
The aquarium features massive 135,000-gallon shark tanks, touch pools, and over 100 species of marine life. You can learn more about the aquarium, and purchase tickets in advance online through the website.
Have you ever wanted to safely view an alligator up close? Well you have the perfect opportunity to do so at Myakka River State Park. The expansive 29,000-acre park is home to alligators, and over 200 species of birds, and it’s just a 45-minute drive from Longboat Key. The park can be safely explored from professional airboat or open air tram tours for a fun family day trip!