Resort a slice of old Florida

JONATHAN SHUTE – Pirates Pointe Resort in Ruskin offers a taste of life in an old Florida fish camp.
By: FRANK SARGEANT | The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 8, 2012
Updated: June 20, 2012 – 7:33 AM

Yeah, it’s the kind of place where you might blow out your flip flop, step on a pop top, waste away a little at sundown — you know what I’m saying, Parrothead?

Pirate’s Pointe Resort in Ruskin is a relic of old Florida, a Cabbage Key kind of place without the tour boats, one of the last remnants of the classic fish camp left in a state where they paved paradise to put up a parking lot, if we might continue the musical theme.

Owner Jason Shute, a New Orleans chef who escaped to the wilds of Ruskin, says it’s a labor of love — one he’s been laboring on for the past five years, doing much of the work of restoring the cottages himself.

“They were just about ready for the bulldozers when we took over,” says Shute. “There was a shade-tree garage in the middle of the camp with a half-dozen cars that were never going to run again parked around it.”

Now, a swimming pool surrounded by tropical vegetation sits where that garage once stood, and all but a couple of the cabins have been restored.

Even rejuvenated, it is oh-so-very-much not a chocolates-on-the-pillow kind of place, but for those who can appreciate sleeping so close to the docks you can hear the mullet jump, seeing a bald eagle rest in a grandfather oak overhead or catching baby tarpon and snook without leaving camp, it’s a rare venue.

“There’s really good fishing starting right at the docks,” says Shute. “We’re on the Ruskin Inlet of the Little Manatee River, and you don’t need anything but a canoe or kayak to get at the fish a lot of the time.”

Yes, there are squirrels on the roof and, to get there, you drive down a street where a lot of commercial fishing boats are parked. You might bring your six-string and a blender, too, if so inclined.

For details, visit www.piratespointeresort.com.