By Per-Olof Forsberg – Own work, CC BY 2.0 DEED, https://www.flickr.com/photos/perolofforsberg/6058372175
Nestled on Anna Maria Island’s southern end, the Coquina Baywalk at Leffis Key is an enticing free attraction that no visitor should overlook. Situated within the protected Leffis Key Preserve, this scenic nature walk provides a unique opportunity to explore one of the island’s last remaining pristine areas.
History of Preservation
The Coquina Baywalk offers an excellent vantage point for taking in the 30-acre Leffis Key Preserve. This sanctuary is a testament to a meticulous and long-lasting effort to restore the island’s native flora and fauna to their natural state.
The area’s degradation resulted from dredging the Intracoastal Waterway during the 1950s, leading to the covering of seagrass beds and the subsequent infiltration of non-native species. In the late 1980s, a restoration initiative was launched to rejuvenate wetlands, seagrass, and mangroves, all while allowing public access to the area via scenic trails. Today, Leffis Key has re-emerged as one of Anna Maria Island’s most critical marine life habitats.
A Serene Escape
After a day at the neighboring Coquina Beach, the Coquina Baywalk offers an ideal destination to connect with Anna Maria Island’s natural beauty. The baywalk features a well-constructed, approximately one-mile-long wooden boardwalk, providing ample opportunities to observe the area’s abundant wildlife while maintaining a respectful distance.
Although the Coquina Baywalk is a relatively brief excursion, it offers a remarkable opportunity to encounter diverse species. The walk may lead to sightings of numerous small fish species, crabs, herons, hawks, stingrays, wading birds, egrets, pelicans, and the occasional frigatebird. Should you venture left upon entering the baywalk, you’ll find picturesque mangrove tunnels that overlook the bay. A rightward turn will guide you to an interpretative cove marked by informative signs that describe the various habitats and the range of plant and animal species that inhabit them.
Flourishing Native Plants
The restoration project included carefully planting a diverse array of native Florida species. These native plants now create an authentic Floridian landscape that never fails to impress.
Among the diverse native flora are Jamaican dogwood, sea grapes, sea oats, beach elder, southern red cedars, Hercules’ club, strangler fig, dune sunflowers, and the iconic mangroves. Through the meticulous planting of over 50,000 native plants and various upland, salt marsh, and intertidal species, the habitat has been fully revived.
Book Your Stay
No matter when you visit Anna Maria Island, the Coquina Baywalk at Leffis Key ensures a vibrant and captivating experience. When it’s time to unwind, retreat to one of our Anna Maria vacation rentals. We offer an array of properties; contact us to book your stay today!