Beer Can Island, Greer Island Park, Hooked Spit, Longboat Pass - these are all names used to describe the same place. Based on those names, you might expect to find an island littered with beer cans, a place where old fishermen hangout and spit tobacco into the murky water, or even just your typical park with charcoal grills and picnic tables. Those were some of the images that came to mind when Tim told me where we were headed one beautiful Saturday morning. He had heard about this place online and felt it was worth exploring, so off we went.
We arrived at North Shore Rd on Longboat Key and found a row of public parking along the right side of the road. It was a good thing we had left somewhat early, because there were only a few spots - most of which were occupied when we got there. We walked to the end of the road and found a path leading onto a small beach. After making our way onto the beach, we turned right and walked to the end where a treeline began. Since it was low tide, we were able to walk the shoreline along the trees to get to Beer Can Island. If you find yourself here when it's not low tide, you might be able to pass through a trail in the mangroves and trees - but watch for pieces of wood jutting out of the sand, ouch!
Once we got past the mangled tree line, we came to a more open beach with weathered trees jutting out of the sand and massive pieces of driftwood. As we continued to follow it, the beach circled around Longboat Pass and led us under a bridge and into the bay.
If you get the chance to visit, you'll likely see a few people coming and going by boat, kayak, or paddle board. It's a perfect place to get away from the crowds and read a good book, have a peaceful picnic, or take some great family photos with the trees and driftwood making an excellent backdrop. Be cautious though, if you're looking to swim you'll want to do that back on the beach you first walked out on - currents are strong in the pass, making it a dangerous spot for swimming.
As we passed under the bridge and into the cove, we spotted a cool looking building with a long dock and hammock. We figured it's probably someone's house, but it had a tall, wooden, fish-shaped sign that made us think it may have once been a restaurant or something. The sign had no words and our best Google efforts didn't turn up anything, so it's still an unsolved mystery to us. If anyone out there knows the answer, we'd love to hear it! :)
Beer Can Island didn't turn out to be an island, or littered in beer cans, and I didn't see any fishermen clad in yellow rain jackets spitting tobacco. It didn't even appear to be a park, at least not in the typical sense. What it did turn out to be was a true gem - a local hot spot for peace, beauty, and tranquility. Beer Can Island certainly doesn't SOUND like a place I'd want to visit, but maybe that's why they call it that - to deter the crowds and keep this place all to themselves. :)
If you visit Beer Can Island, please be sure to leave it just as beautiful as you found it.
My treasures from Beer Can Island: