October 15, 2023

Manasota Key: A Comprehensive Guide to Its Unique Attractions and Activities

Manasota Key is a hidden gem located along Florida's Gulf Coast, offering a peaceful retreat for those seeking a tranquil beach vacation. This unique barrier island boasts stunning shores, an abundance of outdoor activities, and a rich ecosystem that attracts nature lovers. As part of the Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda Combined Statistical Area, Manasota Key provides visitors with a taste of "Old Florida" charm amidst the beauty of the Cape Haze Peninsula.

With miles of pristine shoreline, Manasota Key is home to several stunning beaches, such as Manasota Key Beach and Blind Pass Beach, perfect for relaxation and water recreation. The destination offers various attractions and opportunities, such as fishing, boating, shelling, and beachcombing, making it an ideal vacation spot for families and individuals alike. In addition to its natural beauty, Manasota Key features an array of amenities, dining options, accommodations, and entertainment options, ensuring a memorable experience for its visitors.

Key Takeaways

  • Manasota Key offers a tranquil beach vacation experience on Florida's Gulf Coast
  • The destination boasts pristine beaches, outdoor activities, and rich ecological attractions
  • Visitors can enjoy a range of amenities, dining options, and accommodations on the island

Location of Manasota Key

Manasota Key is a captivating barrier island situated on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is primarily located within Charlotte County, extending north into Sarasota County as well. This picturesque destination is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the serene Lemon Bay estuary to the east1.

This enchanting island is easily accessible from the nearby cities of Sarasota and Venice. The unique location of Manasota Key offers visitors the chance to explore pristine beaches and diverse eco-habitats without the usual overcrowding or parking hassles typical of more popular tourist spots2. The time zone in Manasota Key follows Eastern Daylight Time, which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)3.

Manasota Key boasts a variety of natural attractions, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers and eco-enthusiasts alike. With its unspoiled shoreline, the island promises a peaceful and relaxing getaway for those seeking tranquility and easy connectivity to Florida's Gulf Coast2.

Beaches of Manasota Key

Englewood Beach

Englewood Beach is a popular spot on Manasota Key known for its beautiful clean water with an aqua color. This beach offers excellent facilities that are well-kept, and there is usually plenty of parking available. However, unlike other beaches in the area, visitors need to walk across Beach Road to access the beach area4. With beach chairs and stunning ocean views, Englewood Beach is perfect for a relaxing day at the beach.

Manasota Beach

Manasota Beach is one of the lesser-known beaches on the key and provides an ideal spot for those looking for a more private and peaceful experience. Although not as crowded as other beaches in the area, it still offers soft sand, pristine waters, and picturesque ocean views3. Manasota Beach is perfect for visitors seeking a tranquil retreat away from bustling crowds.

Stump Pass Beach

Stump Pass Beach is renowned for its more secluded and nature-oriented atmosphere. It features excellent opportunities for shelling, bird-watching, and wildlife spotting2. This beach is an excellent choice for nature lovers who desire a serene and undisturbed setting. Don't forget to bring your beach chair, as Stump Pass Beach does not provide any facilities for rent.

Blind Pass Beach

Blind Pass Beach, also known as Middle Beach, is another relatively unknown gem on Manasota Key. It offers quiet stretches of sand, captivating ocean views, and a pleasant atmosphere for a leisurely day at the shore. This beach is a favorite among locals who appreciate its serene surroundings3. Whether you're looking to relax with a good book or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, Blind Pass Beach promises a tranquil experience for all who visit.

Activities and Attractions

Manasota Key offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the natural beauty of the area to engaging in exciting water sports, there's something for everyone on this beautiful Florida key.

Lemon Bay Tours

One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of Manasota Key is by taking a tour of Lemon Bay. These guided tours offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the unique ecosystem while experiencing the scenic views of the bay. Lemon Bay tours are perfect for visitors of all ages, and often include sightings of dolphins, manatees, and a variety of bird species.

Stump Pass Beach State Park

Stump Pass Beach State Park is a popular destination for visitors to Manasota Key. It offers a pristine beach with beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to sunbathing and swimming, visitors can also enjoy activities such as fishing and hiking. The park features nature trails for hiking enthusiasts, which takes them through diverse habitats and provides opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals

For those who enjoy water sports, Manasota Key offers a variety of options, including kayak and paddleboard rentals. Rentals are available from local companies like Allure Boat Rentals, and the calm waters of the Gulf makes it an ideal location for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. With a kayak or paddleboard rental, visitors can explore the picturesque coastline, take in the natural surroundings, and get an up-close view of the marine life that inhabits the area.

Local Wildlife

Manasota Key is home to a diverse array of wildlife, providing visitors with opportunities to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. One of the most amazing sights you may encounter is the acrobatic displays of the dolphin. These intelligent marine mammals are known to swim alongside boats, making for a memorable experience.

Another amazing marine inhabitant of Manasota Key is the gentle West Indian Manatee. These herbivorous mammals are often spotted in the waters around the key, especially during the warmer months. They are known for their serene nature and can be observed from a safe distance to ensure their protection.

Manasota Key is also a critical nesting site for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. These endangered reptiles come ashore on the beaches of Manasota Key to lay their eggs, typically between May and October. Volunteers from the Coastal Wildlife Club monitor the nesting areas to protect the nests and ensure the hatchlings have the best chances of survival. Additionally, on rare occasions, the beaches of Manasota Key have been home to Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle nests, making this location even more special for sea turtle conservation.

While exploring the surroundings of the key, be sure to keep an eye out for native bird species and a variety of other wildlife that call this region home. This barrier island offers a wealth of natural beauty and unforgettable wildlife encounters for those who seek to appreciate the wonders of nature in southwest Florida.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Manasota Key offers a variety of nightlife and entertainment options for visitors and locals alike. One of the key attractions is the live music scene that can be found in various venues throughout the area. These live performances contribute to the vibrant atmosphere, ensuring there's never a dull moment on the Key.

The White Elephant Pub is an iconic establishment on Manasota Key, presenting patrons with the perfect blend of laid-back beach vibes and energetic nightlife. This waterfront pub boasts of a fantastic outdoor seating area overlooking the water, making it an ideal location to unwind and soak in the stunning Florida sunsets. Their extensive menu, refreshing drinks, and live music events make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the unique charm of Manasota Key nightlife.

Another popular option for entertainment is The Waverly, a chic and contemporary restaurant and bar that offers a variety of food and drink options. The establishment is renowned for its extensive drink selections and delightful dishes, making it a great place to spend an evening out with friends or family. With an emphasis on providing exemplary service and fostering a welcoming atmosphere, The Waverly has become a favorite destination among both locals and tourists alike.

In addition to the aforementioned venues, there are numerous other establishments along the coastline that cater to a wide range of preferences. Whether you crave a casual waterfront drink, a night of live music, or a more upscale dining experience, Manasota Key has something to offer everyone. No matter your choice, the Key's nightlife and entertainment scene are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

Amenities and Shops

Manasota Key, a beautiful barrier island in Florida, offers an array of amenities and shops for both locals and visitors to enjoy. With pristine white sand beaches and clear blue waters, the island is the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation.

One of the most popular shopping destinations on Manasota Key is Beach Company Surf Shop. It offers an extensive range of outdoor gear, swimwear, and beach apparel. Whether you're looking for a new swimsuit, stylish sunglasses, or a beach towel, the shop has you covered. Conveniently located across from Englewood Beach, it is an ideal spot to stop by before soaking up the sun.

Another favorite among visitors is Inspired By The Sea, a charming boutique that specializes in unique coastal-inspired gifts and home décor. The shop features a diverse selection of handcrafted items made by local artists, making it a perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

When it comes to amenities, Manasota Key boasts excellent beach-access parking and facilities. Many of the beaches, like Manasota Beach, offer picnic shelters, restrooms, and paved trails, providing a comfortable beach experience for all visitors. Additionally, boat ramps and docks are available for those who want to explore the area on water.

For those seeking more active pursuits, hiking trails and wildlife spotting opportunities abound on Manasota Key. The Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve is a noteworthy nature attraction where visitors can spot birds and other wildlife, or enjoy a tranquil walk through the coastal habitat.

Lastly, after an exciting day on the island, you can unwind by taking a thrilling parasailing adventure with Englewood Parasailing & Tours. Their experienced team ensures a safe and enjoyable experience as you soar high above the Gulf of Mexico and admire the stunning vistas.

Whether you're shopping for souvenirs, relaxing at the beach, or exploring the outdoors, Manasota Key is equipped with a variety of amenities and shops to cater to every visitor's needs.

Dining Options

Manasota Key offers a variety of dining options, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. From casual eateries to upscale restaurants, visitors are sure to find something that suits their appetites.

One popular dining location is Beachcomber of Manasota Key, which offers a cozy coffee shop vibe during the day and transforms into an intimate fine dining venue in the evening. Guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with seating available on the casual front patio or out back for a stunning view of the surroundings.

Several other notable restaurants can be found in the area, such as Magnolia's On The Bay, which offers delicious seafood dishes. In addition, Lock 'N Key Restaurant is well-known for its diverse menu, featuring seafood, American, and vegetarian options. The casual SandBar Tiki & Grille offers great food and a laid-back atmosphere, perfect for families and anyone looking to relax and enjoy their meal.

If you're craving something more exotic, The Waverly Restaurant & Bar is a must-visit. This establishment serves up a variety of dishes, including seafood, barbeque, and more. Whether you're looking for a meal with friends or an intimate dinner for two, The Waverly is sure to please.

In summary, Manasota Key offers an array of dining options, from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. Visitors will find an assortment of cuisines and atmospheres to suit any preference, ensuring a memorable dining experience during their stay.


Vacation Rentals

Manasota Key offers a variety of vacation rental options for travelers looking to enjoy a comfortable stay. Many vacation rentals are available through platforms like Airbnb, where guests can choose from beachfront properties, cozy cottages, and spacious condos. One popular option is Villa Margarita, a charming 2-bedroom beach cottage just a 1-minute walk from the beach and a 5-minute walk from Stump Pass. Guests can also enjoy free shared use of kayaks to explore Lemon Bay. Other platforms such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor also provide a wide selection of vacation rentals to suit varying preferences and budgets.

Manasota Beach Club

For visitors seeking a more luxurious vacation experience, the storied Manasota Beach Club offers upscale accommodations and resort-style amenities. Established in 1961, this private club is nestled within 25 acres of lush natural beauty, providing an idyllic setting for relaxation and recreation. Manasota Beach Club offers a range of lodging options, from cozy cottages to more spacious and private lodge-style residences.

Guests can take advantage of the club's exclusive facilities, which include a heated pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and a pristine private beach. The on-site restaurant serves delicious meals crafted from local ingredients, while the club also features a range of social events and activities for all ages throughout the season. Located near Don Pedro Island State Park, Manasota Beach Club's prime location allows guests to indulge in various outdoor activities such as kayaking, bird watching, and exploring nature trails.

In summary, Manasota Key offers a wide variety of accommodations to suit travelers' preferences and budgets, from vacation rentals to luxurious resort stays such as the Manasota Beach Club. With its beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and comfortable lodging options, Manasota Key truly delivers a delightful vacation experience for all visitors.

Distance and Accessibility

Manasota Key is a stunning barrier island located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, situated between Venice and Englewood. The key is easily accessible from Highway 777, which connects directly to Florida's I-75 that runs between Ft. Myers and Tampa Bay. This convenient access point makes it a popular destination for visitors seeking a less crowded and more serene beach experience.

The island is part of two counties in Florida - Sarasota County to the north and Charlotte County to the south. As a result, it is well-connected to both county's infrastructure and amenities. While the northern part of Manasota Key is predominantly residential and known for its pristine beaches, the southern part offers a variety of public beach access points, such as Manasota Beach Park, Blind Pass Beach Park, and Stump Pass Beach State Park.

Getting to Manasota Key from nearby cities is quite manageable as well. The distance from Sarasota to the northern tip of Manasota Key is approximately 33 miles, which takes around 50 minutes by car. On the other hand, visitors from Fort Myers can expect a travel time of just under an hour and a half, covering about 65 miles. Those looking to venture further out can even access the key from Tampa Bay, which is approximately 85 miles away and takes just under two hours to drive.

Throughout Manasota Key, there are ample parking facilities available for beachgoers. However, during peak season or special events, it's advisable to plan ahead and arrive early to secure a parking spot. Keep in mind that some beaches may charge a small fee for parking.

Manasota Key offers a unique blend of accessibility, natural beauty, and a peaceful atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busier beach environments. With its convenient location to nearby cities and counties, visitors will find it easy to explore and enjoy everything this charming island has to offer.

Picturesque Manasota Key

Manasota Key, a hidden gem located south of Sarasota and Venice, offers visitors a tranquil and serene environment to immerse themselves in a picturesque beach setting. Stepping onto Manasota Key, one can instantly feel the essence of Old Florida, as the area boasts unspoiled landscapes, lightly populated beaches, and an array of native flora and fauna.

The key's beaches are perfect for those who seek an escape from the bustling tourist areas and enjoy the natural beauty of Florida's Gulf coast. Beachgoers can explore the intriguing photos of Manasota Key's coastal landscapes and seaside activities, highlighting the area's charm and vibrancy.

One of the key's primary attractions is its wildlife. The azure waters are teeming with dolphins and manatees, making for an unforgettable experience as adventurers embark on dolphin and whale watching tours. In addition, the lush vegetation provides a habitat for various bird species and other native creatures. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are popular activities that enable visitors to explore the area's bountiful natural offerings.

The sense of Old Florida is preserved as Manasota Key's communities strive to maintain a balance between sustainable development and conservation efforts. The eco-friendly atmosphere of the key can be felt in every corner, from the minimally-developed beach accesses to the environmentally conscious local businesses.

In conclusion, Manasota Key embodies the quintessential Florida beach experience without the crowds and commercialism typically found in larger tourist destinations. Its pristine beaches, rich wildlife, and distinctive Old Florida charm make it an ideal destination for those looking to capture the essence of Florida's natural beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the distance between Manasota Key and Venice FL?

The distance between Manasota Key and Venice, Florida, is approximately 14 miles. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to travel by car between the two locations.

How is the water quality at Manasota Key Beach?

Manasota Key Beach is known for its warm turquoise water and beautiful sunsets, as can be seen from a Manasota Key Vacation Rentals site. The water quality is typically good; however, it is always recommended to check local reports for any unusual conditions or contamination alerts.

What are some famous residents of Manasota Key?

Manasota Key has been home to various notable residents, including artists, actors, and business leaders. However, the area is known for its "Old Florida" vibe and relaxed atmosphere, so many residents prefer to maintain their privacy.

Where are the public beach access points on Manasota Key?

There are several public beach access points on Manasota Key, with many visitors going to Manasota Key Beach. Manasota Key Beach has parking and beach access available. More detailed information about beach access points on Manasota Key can be found online or through local government websites.

Is it safe to swim in the waters around Manasota Key?

Swimming in the waters around Manasota Key is generally considered safe. However, as with any beach, it's essential to be aware of local conditions such as weather, tide, and potential wildlife concerns. Some visitors have also reported finding shark teeth at the beach, but shark-related incidents are rare.

What is the distance between Sarasota and Manasota Key?

The distance between Sarasota and Manasota Key is approximately 35 miles. Depending on traffic and your exact location in Sarasota, the drive can take between 45 minutes to 1 hour.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manasota_Key,_Florida
  2. https://www.visitsarasota.com/article/get-secret-manasota-key 2 3
  3. https://www.mapquest.com/us/florida/manasota-key-fl-282089866 2 3
  4. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34206-d3385356-Reviews-Manasota_Key_Beach-Englewood_Florida.html
Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.