Established in 1938, the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and Key West and is comprised of about 200,000 acres of open water and islands which provides nesting, feeding, and resting areas for over 250 species of birds. The refuge was originally created to protect the great white heron, which are only found in the Florida Keys, from extinction. This area has also become an area where loggerhead and green turtles come to nest and feed.
The great white heron were once prized and hunted for their rare feathers and used in hat making. But since the refuge was established, this has been put to a stop and the number of birds has rebounded. Each dawn and dusk boaters can watch these majestic birds feeding on the flats that surround the many backcountry islands that make up the Florida Keys.
The refuge area is accessible only by boat. Several charters that depart out of Key West navigate this area, showing their people a great time on the beautiful refuge waters. This is the prime location for activities such as bird watching, flats fishing, dolphin watching, and eco-tours.
For more information about things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.