Charming and somewhat secluded, Stump Pass Beach State Park is on the southern tip of Manasota Key. This quaint and natural beach setting is ideal for relaxing, swimming or picnicking and a “sweet” find for the authentic Florida traveler. With over 245 acres, plenty of beach, three islands and protected channels, Stump Pass Park is perfect for a half or full-day getaway.
My husband and I like to explore parks by kayak, especially ones surrounded by water. It gives us a unique perspective of the area and greater accessibility. So, early one morning, we launched our kayaks near the main dock, adjacent to the small parking area. Two islands, Peterson Island and Whidden Key are nearby, both with navigable waters. (Lemon Bay sits on the northeastern side of Whidden Key.) We traveled north along Peterson Island and paddled south through the channel separating the two islands. While drifting and exploring, we found an abundance of fish – especially tasty redfish. Nearby, and not far from Blind Pass, anglers reportedly fish for sheepshead, flounder, snapper, whiting, trout and tarpon.
The environment was thriving. We found sea grasses, fish, bird nests and abundant wildlife. The water was clean and clear and the sea grasses sheltered many marine creatures, including beautiful spiny sea urchins – a sign of a healthy aquatic environment. Plenty of ospreys flew overhead searching for food and we spotted a few spectacular nests.
After kayaking around the islands, we beached at Stump Pass, a popular boating area and waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. We picnicked with our packed lunch, walked the beach, swam and shelled. Shelling is very popular along this stretch of the beach and I enjoyed finding shark teeth and prehistoric fossils, a special bonus of this area. You may also want to bring your mask and fins for snorkeling. The beach and park have been left natural with sea grapes, mangroves and bay cedars creating an even more authentic Florida experience.
The scenic beach, waterways and fun things to do make this park a special “find” and we are already planning our next visit. Enjoy!
Note: Parking is limited, so get there early. With the available facilities and covered picnic areas, consider taking a packed lunch to fully enjoy this ideal Florida retreat.