Not far from Gill Dawg Marina, accessed only via boat or kayak is a piece of Florida history unique to this area. Standing as sentinels in the water, just past Green Key’s shimmering sands, a cluster of stilt houses rises from Pasco County’s clear waters. These fish camps, perched high above the Gulf of Mexico on wooden legs, stand in silent tribute to Florida’s yesteryear. The water surrounding these camps is calm and shallow. Stand-up paddleboards dot the placid waters surrounding Green Key. Skinny strips of white, blue and pink boards let paddlers dance across key lime water, away from buff-colored shores and out toward a slice of Florida history.
The view from Durney Key
As you slip into the Gulf, the world beneath your feet comes alive. Cownose rays – tiny, timid stingrays, no bigger than a dinner plate – flutter over sea grass. Mullet twist and toss themselves into the air. As your paddle pushes you through saltwater, redfish zig, then zag, just beneath the surface of this oversized aquarium. Celebrities from Johnny Cash to Billy Graham have sought respite in these weathered bits of old Florida. The shallow, sapphire-studded waters reflect the sun-bleached wood on these houses, private residences used as fish camps in the Gulf. The stilt houses remain as long as the weather permits: State law says those destroyed in a storm cannot be rebuilt. The fish camps stand in mere feet of water, so paddleboards are one of the few ways to get close.
The stilt houses
Tucked amidst the watery stilt city, Durney Key attracts paddleboarders, kitesurfers, kayakers and boaters. Driftwood and bits of sea glass adorn its shore and fiddler crabs scurry over packed brown sand. A cluster of trees in the key’s center offers shelter. Day-trippers and campers alike search for shells and watch the sun set over the fish camps. On the paddle back toward Green Key, fish scurry from your path as the nightly seabreeze pushes you home. From the sand, you can see the stilt houses in the distance, waiting for your return.
Gill Dawg Marina’s location on Miller’s Bayou offer great opportunties to explore the Stilt Houses. We offer pontoon rentals, jon boat rentals, fishing charters and kayaks rentals. We also offer Sunset Tours. Call us to arrange for your rental or tour: 727-842-1070.