Kayaking With Dolphins At Manasota Key Resort

Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein

Kayaking next to curious dolphins is one of the many highlights guests experience while staying at Manasota Key Resort.

While Miami and Fort Lauderdale are popular vacation cities in Florida, travelers seeking a slower pace beach experience will enjoy the boutique Manasota Key Resort. This hidden gem is surrounded by white sand beaches touching the Gulf of Mexico's turquoise blue waters. 

There are two International Airports - Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and Fort Myers Southwest Florida International Airport offering flights from most major cities. The resort is about a one hour drive from these airports. Once you arrive, leave your car parked and walk, ride a bicycle or take a complimentary golf cart shuttle into the main areas of town.

Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein


It'a a picturesque resort surrounded by water and towering palm trees. Accommodations range from studio rooms to three bedroom cottages and homes. This variety of accommodations is ideal for couples, families, bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings and reunions.

Family Home at Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein

The largest home offers two ensuite bedrooms with a bathroom, plus a beautifully decorated living and dining room, a gourmet kitchen, game room, an adjoining three-bunk bedroom, and a connecting guest bedroom ideal for group get-togethers.

Bunk Room at Manasota Key Resort

There is also a large waterfront yard with a fire-pit and boat dock along the picturesque Lemon Bay. 

Gourmet Kitchen. Photo Jill Weinlein

The resort offers a common area featuring outdoor barbecues and a pizza oven for those who enjoy cooking and dining alfresco at a picnic table or while sitting around a flickering fire pit.

There is also a small fitness center and a laundry facility.

Complimentary Kayaks. Photo by Jill Weinlein


Kayaks are complimentary for guests to take from the resort to explore the calm Lemon Bay to see dolphins, cormorants, eagles, and pelicans fly overhead.

Guests can explore fascinating wildlife up close while taking in the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding the area.

Dolphin and Sunset Cruise. Photo Jill Weinlein


Another way to see dolphins is to take a Lemon Bay Dolphin and Sunset Cruise. Board a pontoon boat to explore the calm water as the captain enlightens passengers about dolphins and other marine life.

This exclusive area in Manasota Key has been home to some celebrity residents over the years, including the Vanderbilt family, tennis icon Martina Navratilova, singers Donna Summer and Bobby Vinton.


Throughout the resort along Lemon Bay are piers and fish cleaning stations for anglers of all skill levels. In this area tarpon are prime to catch from April to October. The Boca Grande Pass is a renowned area, known as one of the best places in North America to catch these silver kings. Common Florida saltwater fish include Pinfish, Red Grouper, Sheepshead, Snook and Black Drum. 

Boogie Boards and Bicycles. Photo Jill Weinlein


Grab a bike to take for a spin around the key. The resort offers cruiser bikes for guests to take into town. Stop for a beverage and listen to live music at one of the popular waterside venues. The paved bike paths meander along harborfront trails, historic neighborhoods, colorful murals, cafes and shops. 

Boogie Boards are also available for guests to glide on the gentle Gulf of Mexico waves before touching down on the soft sandy shore.

Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein


Pickleball courts are available for guests to play on before the sun goes down. Ping pong tables, corn hole and lawn games are also available throughout the day.

Two swimming pools at Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein


Go for a swim in one of the swimming pools at the resort. There are lounge chairs for sunbathing and umbrellas for those seeking some shade.

Stump Pass Beach Park. Photo Jill Weinlein


Just beyond Manasota Key Resort is Stump Pass Beach Park. This area is home to sea turtles and gopher turtles. There were 911 sea turtle nests discovered in 2023 during nesting season from May to October. Loggerhead, Green and Kemp’s Ridley nests have been discovered. Park rangers mark the area with stakes and flags for the public to maintain a respectful distance from the turtles.

This area is also Florida’s second-largest estuary. It’s a water wonderland offering 830 miles of sandy shoreline, with 80% of the shoreline preserved as a breeding ground for marine life. 

Luckiest place in Manasota Key Resort. Photo Jill Weinlein

Some say Stump Pass Beach Park is the luckiest place on earth. Visitors are encouraged to add a shell to driftwood stumps or trees in the area and make a wish.

There is a flat pathway throughout the park's peninsula with outlets to the Gulf of Mexico and Lemon Bay on the other side. Collecting seashells along the shoreline is a popular activity. The beach is littered with thousands of shells of all colors and sizes. Hidden in the piles of shells are black fossilized shark teeth. These teeth are most commonly found in Florida.

According to Robert L. Fuqua’s ‘Florida Fossil Shark Teeth Identification Guide', beachcombers search throughout the day for a prized shark tooth. The grand prize is a megalodon tooth. “Sharks have rows of teeth and can produce up to 3000 teeth or more in a lifetime. When a shark bites its prey and then struggles with it, both the shark and the prey turn and twist. Sharks sometimes lose a tooth or break one in the struggle,' said Fuqua. 

The best way to find a tooth is to scoop up sand and shells with a sand sifter to try to discover one or two.

Lemon Bay Market and Cafe. Photo Jill Weinlein


Explore the small-town food scene starting with an elevated food truck experience at Lemon Bay Market outside of the Manasota Key Resort Welcome Center.

Grab at table and chairs overlooking the fresh water river for a breakfast burrito, avocado toast or Greek yogurt fruit parfait. The lunch menu includes freshly made wraps, salads and a fried grouper sandwich. The fries have been named 'one of the best' in the area.

Dine after sunset. Photo Jill Weinlein

Outside of the resort there are a variety of dining venues. Gear up for fresh seafood at Sandbar Tiki & Grille. It's known for crispy shrimp fritters, fried gator bites, fresh salads, lobster rolls, different flatbreads and healthy bowls. Their homemade white cheddar mac n' cheese can be topped with a variety of enhancements that includes pulled pork, fried onion petals, lobster, Buffalo Wings or smoked barbecue brisket.

During the day, live music and happy hour specials bring in a crowd. Many enjoy sitting near the Manasota Key sandbar overlooking a canal to watch for dolphin sightings.

Another favorite spot for grilled or blackened grouper, salads, burgers and sandwiches is Beachcomber. Order from the food truck window and find a surfboard-theme table with chairs along the water. Dolphins are known to swim down the channel entertaining guests.

For dinner, dine where the locals like to go for great cocktails and wines by the glass to enjoy with butter and cheese boards. Specialty menu items include fried avocado, fresh grilled fish, pastas and steaks at The Waverly Restaurant and Bar. Owners Jill and Scott Hemmes' two-story restaurant offers an extensive menu that will appeal to all.

Manasota Key Resort. Photo by Jill Weinlein

Discover the sights and sounds of the beachfront Manasota Key Resort for marine and wildlife sightings surrounded by a relaxed natural sanctuary.

Jill Weinlein

Los Angeles based Jill Weinlein covers travel, food and lifestyle destinations for multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Her areas of expertise include, luxury travel, culinary reviews, cruising and family travel destinations. Born in Los Angeles, Jill studied Communications and Theatre Arts at UCLA. She has a a Dine and Travel blog - and she writes a weekly restaur...(Read More)

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