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Anna Maria Sound Report
(Gilligan's Island)

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Report By:  ed    Date: 7/26/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 14 photos     Map & Directions: View

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip - that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. Come on a kayak trip with Penny and Ed to find Gilligan's Island in Anna Maria Sound. No phone, no lights no motor cars...

My Report:

To get in the spirit, click this link before reading the trip report. It will open a new window / tab on your web browser or start Windows Media Player and play the Gilligan's Island theme song in the background.


It was back in May when I first spotted the GPS coordinates for Gilligan's Island on the Florida Paddling Trails website. Not much was written about the location other than the name and camping is allowed. But with a name like "Gilligan's" that was enough to get me interested in searching for the famous island and its castaways.

Early on the morning of July 26th, I donned my best Gilligan's bucket hat and headed south to Bradenton to meetup with my old kayaking buddy Penny. If you're a follower of my trip reports, you probably have not heard of Penny as we haven't paddled since 2003. However, you've seen her photo - a lot. Penny is in the plastic gray/blue Perception Carolina featured at the top of this and every page on Green Wave Forum. In fact, that photo was taken in 2002 at Bayfront Park on Anna Maria Island, the same place we put-in for this trip.

Finding the park takes a bit of work; follow Manatee Ave west from Bradenton until it runs into Gulf Drive. Turn right on Gulf Drive, right on Pine Ave, left on North Bay Blvd. Go over narrow bridge to park.

After launching, we immediately headed east, under the City Pier boardwalk and along the north end of Anna Maria. Lots of expensive homes in the area. Nice view of the entrance to Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

Since neither Penny nor I had ever been to Gilligan's, I used GPS coordinates from the FPTA site to guide us in. I also had a printout of a Google Satellite map - which was deceiving as heck. From the Google map it looks like Gilligan's is surrounded mangroves, this is not the case - it is in open water.

The trip across Anna Maria Sound to Gilligan's was a hot one. Temperature and humidity were both over 90. By the time we reach Gilligan's (3.3 miles), Penny was ready to fall out of the boat so we spent the next 20 minutes sitting in the water at the edge of the island.

Gilligan's Island is a circular shaped spoil island, about 400 feet in diameter. There is a slight bit of elevation, perhaps 3 to 4 feet, so it should keep dry in most storms. From the looks of it, camping is popular and there were two groups already on the island. I talked with some of the campers and they said even for July the bugs were not too bad, but nights are hot. Plenty of Australian Pines for shade to keep cool during the day.

No facilities on the island so you'll need to bring everything you need. Be sure to pack out your trash and bring an extra trash bag to collect leftovers from those who can't seem to follow the "leave no traces" rule.

After spending about a half hour on the island eating snacks, shooting photos and looking for Mary Ann and Ginger (no luck, rats!), Penny and I headed south along Perico Island (east of Gilligan's). One mile south is Hwy 64 / Manatee Ave. We followed the Anna Maria Bridge west to the Kingfish Boat Ramp.

This popular ramp has a picnic tables, grills and a porta-potty. Due to the heat, Penny decided to stay here while I paddled back north along Anna Maria to retrieve the car (about 5 miles one-way).

All-in-all it was a good trip and great to meetup with an old paddling buddy. Only disappointment was no castaways, no SS Minnow and no coconuts to make telephones. Next time I visit Gilligan's Island it will be from the Kingfish Boat Ramp. From here the trip is a straight shot across open water for about 1.5 miles.

GPS Coordinates for the gear heads:

Bayfront Park, Anna Maria Island, N27 31.091 W82 44.090
Gilligan's Island, N27 30.827 W82 41.270
Kingfish Boat Ramp, N27 29.927,W82 42.214

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: Saltwater
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 10
Fees/Costs $: Free

Photos from Gilligan's Island:    (Click image to view full size)

Bayfront Park No Comm
Bayfront Park

Beautiful skies, blue green waters and Passage Key sign at Bayfront Park on Anna Maria Island.

Bayfront Park Beach No Comm
Bayfront Park Beach

Leaving Bayfront Park early in the day. By afternoon this little beach gets crowded.

Anna Maria Island No Comm
Anna Maria Island

Some expensive homes along the north end of Anna Maria Island.

School Key Homes No Comm
School Key Homes

The big houses are on School Key at the northeast end of Anna Maria.

Sunshine Skyway No Comm
Sunshine Skyway

The Sunshine Skyway bridge crossing Tampa Bay is located to the northeast of Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Sound No Comm
Anna Maria Sound

Penny and Cormorant at the north entrance to Anna Maria Sound.

Gilligan's Island No Comm
Gilligan's Island

A first look at Gilligan's Island from the shallow waters of Anna Maria Sound.

Penny at Gilligan's No Comm
Penny at Gilligan's

Penny landing at Gilligan's after a very hot crossing from School Key.

Gilligan's Camp No Comm
Gilligan's Camp

No sign of the Gilligan, the skipper or Ginger but found several good places to camp on Gilligan's Island.

What, no Mary Ann? No Comm
What, no Mary Ann?

Scouring Gilligan's Island looking for Mary Ann and Ginger. Instead found another ideal campsite.

Camp at Gilligan's No Comm
Camp at Gilligan's

Popular place for camping, even in July. Checked with a few campers and they said the bugs were not all that bad for mid-summertime.

Sea Grapes No Comm
Sea Grapes

Make Sea Grape Jelly: remove stems, wash 2 cups of fruit. Boil in 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Drain thru cheesecloth. In pot add 4 cups sugar, 1 pkg pectin.

Anna Maria Bridge No Comm
Anna Maria Bridge

Crossing the channel under Anna Maria Bridge.

Skyway Bridge No Comm
Skyway Bridge

A thunderstorm in the distance near the Sunshine Skyway bridge on Tampa Bay.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsAfter your paddling trip there are plenty of good places to eat on Anna Maria Island. Some favorites are The City Pier Restaurant (at Bayfront Park), the Sandbar Restaurant (very popular) and Sign of The Mermaid (expensive but good).

Post Date: 8/15/2009

Go to ed's Trip JournalMore Trips and Comments on Anna Maria Sound
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