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Kayaking the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Brasher Park Launching Point: Port Richey, Florida

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

kayaking-werner-boyce-salt-springs-state-park-port-richey-florida

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
  • 727-816-1890

Hours & Fees

  • Open 8am to Sunset
  • Fees: $2.00 for pedestrian or bicycle
  • $3.00 for vehicle with up to 8 people
Spoonbill

Spoonbill

Ben Smith, Brian Wallace, Terry DeGiulio

Ben Smith, Brian Wallace, Terry DeGiulio

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.

Brasher Park

  • Koons Road,
  • Port Richey, FL 34668
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • No fees

Brasher Park Launch Site

Small sandy beach perfect for launching

Small sandy beach perfect for launching

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.

Durney Key

Durney Key and one of the Stilt Houses

Durney Key and one of the Stilt Houses

Stilt House

Stilt House

Stilt House

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.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

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.

Osprey

Osprey

Gill Dawg Marina/Tiki Bar & Grill

  • 5419 Treadway Drive,
  • Port Richey, FL 34668
  • 727-842-1070

Paddlesports

  • Daily: 9am – 5pm

Tiki Bar & Grill

  • Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 11pm
  • Friday – Saturday: 11am – 2am
kayaking-werner-boyce-salt-springs-state-park-port-richey-florida
kayaking-werner-boyce-salt-springs-state-park-port-richey-florida
kayaking-werner-boyce-salt-springs-state-park-port-richey-florida

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

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 05, 2020:

Thanks Cristina. When the outfitter is there they usually have carts with wheels to move the kayaks across the boardwalk down to the launch point. Brasher Park is easier to access with a much shorter trip to the water. Hope you had an enjoyable day.

Cristina Vanthul from Florida on July 05, 2020:

Great information, Bill. I was out at Werner-Boyce yesterday checking out the kayak launch. It's definitely in working condition; however, it's quite a distance from the parking lot. Looks like Brasher Park might be a better option for someone like me who often paddles alone, at least until the outfitter there opens back up and can give a hand to soloists.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on April 18, 2020:

We really like the area for its Gulf access and many nature parks. Some people have actually kayaked out to those stilt houses. They look a bit too far for me. We like to stay close to shore and look for wildlife.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2020:

Thanks for taking us along on another one of your kayaking trips. I am familiar with that part of Florida...just not out on the water kayaking. Getting to view and capture photos of wildlife as you did would be so much fun. It is amazing that those stilt houses are still standing!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 13, 2017:

Hi Andrea,

Excellent news. We have been waiting for the launch to open in the park. Looks like it will be a great area to explore. We hope to get back down there in the fall. We have been up to your location at the Weeki Wachee River many times and always have a great day. We'll stop by on our next trip.

Thanks

Bill

Andrea Farmer on July 13, 2017:

Hi Bill,

Great article on exploring Werner-Boyce Salt Springs. The new launch you mentioned in your post is now open in the state park, providing direct access to the salt-springs. You can bring your own boat or rent kayaks or paddleboards from Paddling Adventures.

Next time you're in Florida, you're invited for a paddle to the springs. I work for the company that offers rentals.

Thank you!

Andrea

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 06, 2015:

Thanks Dianna. I really do find it relaxing to be out on the water. I'll have to wait until our next visit to Florida to get out again with winter setting in here in New England. Thanks again, have a great week.

Dianna Mendez on December 06, 2015:

This is such a relaxing way to spend a day on the water. I loved your share of this event. My hubby truly enjoys kayaking on the intercoastal when he can get over that way.

sujaya venkatesh on November 19, 2015:

missed this kayaking

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 14, 2015:

Hi Linda. This area seems to be popular with more than a few Hubbers. The birds in this area really are magnificent. Nice to see you you here, have a great weekend.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 14, 2015:

I spent many weekends in Port Richey when my mom lived there, but I never went kayaking, but I did spot quite a few of those magnificent birds!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 14, 2015:

Hey Alun. Oh yes, I am familiar with most of these parks. The area is a little crowded for me but I love how quickly you can go from urban insanity to the serenity of nature. Honeymoon Island is really a wonderful place. The last time we were there in February we saw a pair of Bald Eagles with their eaglets and a Great Horned Owl. We hope to get back there at some point this winter, we'll see.

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on November 14, 2015:

Thanks Bill. The next one's about Thailand again, but would probably only be of interest to people intending to visit, as it's about local transport :)

I visited Port Richey 4 or 5 times in the early 1990s, and well remember places such as Boyd Hill, Fred H Howard Park, Honeymoon Island, Myakka Park, Green Key and Jay B Starkey Park. I'm sure you'll know a few of those! Fond memories but sad as I was with my parents, who are now both gone. They sold the house as they were getting older, and less able to travel.

Most of my best bird photos come from that area of America as I've always found water birds are a little easier to get close to than land birds. It's a lovely part of Florida :)

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 14, 2015:

Hi Alun. What a small world. My in-laws live there so we visit a few times each year. We always make it a point to get out and kayak or hike in some of the many parks in the area. This was our first visit to Werner-Boyce but certainly not our last.

I must say, I am duly impressed with your travel resume. I'm sure you have your next adventure in the works. Great to see you here, have a nice weekend.

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on November 14, 2015:

I have spent some time in Port Richey Bill as my parents had a small holiday home there about 20 years ago, and I visited several times. Although I do not know the park described here, the scenery and the wildlife of this coastline is familiar to me and remembered with great fondness. And I know how well planned and maintained American parks of this kind are, so I am quite certain this is as appealing as you make it sound!

As ever Bill, a well laid out hub, illustrated with your own photos, and serving a useful purpose in encouraging visitors to make good use of these great natural resources. Congrats on your latest HOTD. I know it won't be your last! Alun

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 12, 2015:

Hi Stella. Thanks for stopping by. We had a great day on the water exploring the park. Can't wait to return to do it again. Have a great day.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on November 11, 2015:

Hi, I love your photos of the park. I saw those stilt houses and wondered how they got to build them, now I know. Nice to meet you.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 11, 2015:

You're welcome. Same here.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 11, 2015:

Thanks Kristen. Nice seeing you again so soon.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 11, 2015:

Bill, congrats on HOTD, since I've read this not too long ago!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 09, 2015:

You're very welcome. My pleasure. I think I've canoed one time in Pennsylvania, long time ago. I enjoy your hubs. You too!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 09, 2015:

Thank you Kristen. We always try to do at last one kayaking trip when we are in Florida. There are so many wonderful place to get outside and enjoy nature. Maybe next time we'll venture out to the stilt houses but as you said, they are pretty far out there. Thanks again, have a great evening.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 08, 2015:

Bill, this sounds like a lovely kayaking trip. Those stilt houses sounds real interesting and far out there in the ocean. Lovely pics for this great travelogue in Florida. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge about the state park.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 05, 2015:

Thanks Venkatachari. I always find it to be a soothing experience to be out on the water. Sounds like a great experience to travel the Ganges every day to get to work, I hope you enjoyed it? Glad you enjoyed the hub, have a nice day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 05, 2015:

Thank you Linda. It always amazes me the abundance of wildlife that manages to coexist in these parks along side the hustle and bustle of humanity. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on November 04, 2015:

Very much exciting hub with wonderful details and photographs. I used to travel in a boat for about half-a-kilometer distance for some months to reach my family from workplace after which I resigned that job. It was a thrilling experience for me those few months on the river of Ganges during a rainy season.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 04, 2015:

This looks like a wonderful place to visit, Bill. I've wanted to visit Florida for a long time. If I ever do, I hope I make it to this park to see the wildlife. Congratulations on the Editor's Choice Weekly Spotlight award for this hub!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 04, 2015:

Thank you Vellur. I find it so peaceful and relaxing when we are out on the water looking for wildlife. To me it's like being transported to a whole new world. Thanks again, have a great day.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on November 04, 2015:

The place is so gorgeously beautiful! Great photographs! A perfect place for those who love the water and birds. I wish I was there. Thank you for sharing.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 01, 2015:

Hi Bill. I would love for you to join us sometime. We find it very relaxing being out on the water kayaking. We were down in Florida for a few weeks and managed to get out a few times. A great week to you also.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 01, 2015:

I would join you in a heartbeat, Bill, if I were in the area. I love to kayak. Beautiful pictures, my friend. I'm jealous.

Have a terrific week!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 01, 2015:

Thank you Flourish. We had a great day on the gulf exploring the Werner-Boyce Salt Spring Park coastal area. We will definitely return there on our next trip south.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 01, 2015:

This sounds and looks like such an adventure! Count me in! Thanks for cluing us all in to the little known spots on the Florida coast to have fun and enjoy nature.