One of our favorite stops in our travels has been Longboat Key. A nice anchorage, good restaurants a few hundred feet away via dinghy, spectacular beach and a party atmosphere on weekends make this must stop along the Gulf Coast Intercoastal Waterway. Longboat Pass is a treacherous and dangerous one. Access is best made from the inside.
Heading north approach the bottom of Jewfish Key and turn to port. You can see Moore’s Stonecrab Restaurant as soon as you clear Jewfish Key. It looks as if you want to anchor between Jewfish and Longboat, and you can, but the current is wicked strong there. If you instead choose a spot alongside Moores, the current diminishes. During winter this spot can get crowded, but holding was good for us while we were there. Next to Moore’s is the Mar Vista Restaurant. Both offer good Florida fare and are boater friendly.
The water is gorgeous with plenty of dolphin and manatee willing to visit. Weekends get a little busy in this area as it’s a popular place to party. Just inside Longboat Pass is a large sandbar that locals congregate on.
The north end of the island offers a really nice white sand beach. There is no access to this part of the beach for the public, except by boat. It’s a short dinghy ride. You can set up beach camp on the inside and watch the revelers play out on the sandbar, or you can go around to the Gulf side and enjoy the spectacular view.
Across the pass is Anna Maria Island. During our stay we took a dinghy ride across the pass, walked up to the public beach, and caught the free trolley to Publix for some supplies. Pretty good deal for cruisers with no cars. Bradenton Beach anchorage on Anna Maria offers a place to get rid of trash and take on water via jerry jugs. The general atmosphere there is kind of seedy though. Several of the anchored boats are derelict. Some of the resident liveaboards might be derelicts as well. Longboat is much higher end and safer appearing in our opinion.
Longboat Pass and Beer Can Island to the right.
Longboat Key is best visited out of the height of snowbird season. As I mentioned, the anchorage can get crowded during the winter, but if you can find a spot to drop anchor, it’s well worth it. It truly is a beautiful stop along the Intercoastal. Do NOT pass it by if you travel this way.
Sunset from the Beach, Longboat Key, Florida
(By the way, Happy Hour at Moore’s is from 4 to 6 daily