Though Big Sarasota Pass is deep and fairly wide past Sarasota Point, as the image above suggests, its outer confluence with the Gulf of Mexico is very shoal and subject to constant changes. The image above is a view to the north looking over the inner portion of Big Sarasota Pass, with Bird Key visible in the middle of the harbor. Off to the left (northwest) is Lido Key with its beautiful white sand beaches. The city of Sarasota is off near the horizon where the taller white buildings can be seen.
Use NOAA Chart 11425.
While the inner channel is marked past Sarasota Point, the outer entrance is unmarked, and if there are aids to navigation in place at any time, they are frequently moved and uncharted. The best advice is to call ahead to one of the local Sarasota marinas (Marina Jack has been of help to some cruisers in the past) for local knowledge and proceed with caution. If you are at all unsure, we recommend heading a bit farther north to New Pass, which has more reliable depths and is better and more clearly marked.
Local Notices to Mariners are available online from the U.S. Coast Guard.