Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.
In my continuing effort to find the best kayaking locations in the Tampa area we recently found our way to Brasher Park where we launched for a great day of kayaking in the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park. Located in Port Richey about thirty miles north of Tampa, this hidden gem takes visitors from the urban insanity of busy route 19 to the quiet and seclusion of this pristine salt marsh along the Gulf of Mexico.
The Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park is a fairly new addition to the Florida State Park System and opened to the public in March of 2001 with limited access. In 2012 a main entrance was opened with access from route 19, and in 2017 construction was completed on an ADA compliant kayak launch, pavilion, boardwalk and bathroom facilities.
Because of the dense mangroves that line the shoreline here the park does not have a beach or any swimming areas. While this may disappoint swimmers and sun bathers, it is a boon for kayakers looking to explore an interesting and picturesque stretch of the coast without hordes of people around. Less people also means more wildlife and that is exactly what we came to see at this location.
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs Park
- 8737 US Highway 19 North
- Port Richey, FL 34668
Hours & Fees
- Open 8am to Sunset
- Fees: $2.00 for pedestrian or bicycle
- $3.00 for vehicle with up to 8 people
For the time being until a kayak launch is ready within the park the best way to explore the Werner-Boyce Springs is to launch from Brasher Park, which is located just to the south of Werner-Boyce. Brasher Park is a relatively small park but does have bathroom facilities, picnic tables and a small sandy beach area that is perfect for launching your canoe or kayak. Once in the water you will follow the coast to the right (north) and in short order you will be exploring the mangroves and salt marshes of Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park.
The park extends for about four miles along the coast and has numerous inlets and bayous that you can explore. For our day we explored the coastal areas and will return in the future when the park has completed its kayak launch to venture into the heart of the park. The park is large enough for multiple visits if you wish to explore every nook and corner.
- Koons Road,
- Port Richey, FL 34668
- Open Sunrise to Sunset
- No fees
Brasher Park Launch Site
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If you look out into the Gulf of Mexico from here you will notice some interesting landmarks that will certainly catch your attention. Durney Key is the small island about a half-mile offshore. The island is a favorite location for campers and many kayakers make their way out here to sunbathe, hunt for sea shells and explore the island.
Also of note here are the stilt houses that dot the coast. I counted eight of these weathered relics, which date back to the 1950s and today are privately owned and used as fishing houses. Florida State law states that stilt houses that are destroyed by storms cannot be rebuilt so who knows how long these unique and historic links to Florida’s past will remain. While you can paddle out to the stilt houses, please remember that these are privately owned so look but do not attempt to enter.
This particular area of the Florida Gulf Coast is also teeming with wildlife and was the driving motivation behind our desire to explore this area. Numerous shore birds, birds of prey, wading birds and sea life call this region home. On our day on the water we saw numerous large jumping fish (mullet), osprey, cormorants, egrets, ibis, heron, and a rare Roseate Spoonbill. While its beautiful pink color may fool people into thinking they are looking at a flamingo make no doubt about it, this unique wading bird with its large bill is right at home here among the mangroves and salt marshes.
Also commonly seen in the waters here are dolphin, stingray, tortoise, and manatee although on this particular day they were not spotted. We did see dolphin and stingray in these waters a few days later just to the south of here while kayaking near Anclote Park.
If you enjoy the serenity of spending a few hours out on the water looking for wildlife you have certainly come to the right place. The options for exploring here are numerous. From the pristine shoreline of the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs Park to perhaps paddling out to Durney Key and the stilt houses, you have plenty of destinations to keep you paddling.
And should you not have your own kayak fear not as the Gill Dawg Marina is located right up the road and you can rent a kayak, boat or paddle board there. It’s also a great place for lunch after a morning of exploring out on the water.
Gill Dawg Marina/Tiki Bar & Grill
- 5419 Treadway Drive,
- Port Richey, FL 34668
- Daily: 9 am– 5 am
Tiki Bar & Grill
- Sunday – Thursday: 11 am – 11 pm
- Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 2 am
Thanks for joining me on another kayaking adventure. There are plenty of other beautiful and interesting spots which I have yet to discover here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just north of Tampa, so watch for future reviews. Check out a few of my prior kayaking trips below, all located in the general Tampa/New Port Richey area.
© 2015 Bill De Giulio