A new boat tour business called The Pelican recently began operating from the St. Pete Pier and offers the only ferry service from downtown to Egmont Key, according to Capt. John Kavanagh.

What You Need To Know

  • The Pelican’s motto is pier to paradise
  • The four hours long explore Egmont Key tour costs $69
  • The three-hour sunset cruise costs $79

“We’ll take you right from the pier and we’ll put you right on an island in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Capt. Kavanagh, 41. “Pier to paradise. That’s where we go.” ​

‘Pier to paradise’ also is the Pelican’s motto. The 60-foot power catamaran can hold up to 49 passengers and began offering journeys on June 18. 

The twice daily ‘explore Egmont Key’ tour takes four hours and costs $69 per adult.  

“We’ve got about an hour’s ride out to the island under the Skyway,” said Kavanagh. “Look for dolphins along the way and we’ll be there in no time.”

Egmont Key State Park is a secluded island with pristine beaches. Guests can check out the historic lighthouse, endangered gopher tortoises, along with an old fort. Visitors can also go fishing or snorkeling in the crystal blue water.

Captain Kavanagh said he installed a custom-built ladder at the front of his boat for guests to step down onto the island because there aren’t any docks at Egmont Key. 

“We run right up on the beach. I mean, what are we 10-to-15 feet away from the sand?” he said. “Step into a little of water. The ladder was custom-built by a local welder who understood what we wanted to do.” 

The Pelican also offers a three-hour sunset cruise for $79. Captain Kavanagh said despite having to pay $6.40 for a gallon of boat fuel, he will not raise the prices.

​”These were good prices for a four-hour tour and a three-hour trip. I thought they were fair prices,” he said. “I didn’t want to let the customers take the brunt of that punishment. We’ll take the punishment.” 

Kavanagh moved to St. Petersburg a few years ago, after spending 29 years as a commercial fisher in Rhode Island. The boat captain said he’s co-owner of The Pelican, along with two other investors.

“I put the dream together, and I sold it to them and without hesitation (they) completely believed in it,” said Kavanagh. “They’re amazing people and they’re local and they’re just the best partners you could have. They made all this magic happen.”

Kavanagh said he’s also grateful for the boat slip he secured at the popular $92 million St. Pete Pier that opened two years ago.

“Between the St. Pete Municipal Marina and the Vinoy, they all worked together to get me this dock spot,” he said. “What a home run. I mean, it’s been so much fun down here every day.”

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