The Mangrove Islands of Cockroach Bay

A view of the mangroves in the water.

The park protects one of the last remaining swaths of undeveloped mangrove barrier islands. These small islands dot the coast from the mouth of the Little Manatee River south to Cockroach Channel. They are a wonder to visit by boat, paddleboard, kayak or canoe.  

Paddlers can explore between the small mangrove islands and enjoy a picnic on one of the upland islands that has a sandy beach. The combination of open and sheltered bay waters, mangrove swamps, habitat for imperiled birds and the Florida manatee make for a scenic and peaceful experience.  

The gulf vistas of the park and occasional sand beaches are best viewed from a canoe or kayak on one of the marked trails available adjoining the park. The water around the park is an ideal place for fishing, kayaking canoeing, paddle boarding and bird watching. There are several paddling trails adjoining and around the park including the Snook Paddling Trail, Horseshoe Crab Paddling Trail and Little Manatee State Trail.

The same isolation that requires a boat for access contributes to the protection of the barrier islands and the persistence of the park’s natural resources. The park is a vestige of the coastal berm and mangrove forest habitats that were once much more wide spread around the Tampa Bay shoreline and in Florida. Within a short drive, residents of some of Florida’s most urban areas can step back in time and experience natural Florida.