8 Feb 2019
Cayo Costa state park protects the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries and is an untouched piece of Florida. It is only accessible by boat or kayak. It features nine miles of undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, bird watching and exploration.
With numerous island and passages between them, that are teeming with wildlife; the small island is good for stand up paddle boarding and / or kayaking. Paddlers often encounter manatees, dolphins, alligators, osprey, eagles and many wading birds along these protected waters. The BIPS (Barrier Island Park Society) has kayaks and stand up paddle boards for rent.
You should be sure to visit “Manatee Hole” a small lagoon just south of the park’s dock where manatees can be found year round. The world-famous Cabbage Key restaurant is also within paddling distance of the park.
On this unique barrier island, visitors enjoy the nearly six miles of trails that wind their way through three distinct ecosystems. The camp store has bicycles to rent or you can take a leisurely walk.
The nine miles of shoreline are known for their amazing shelling. (You may find the elusive Junonia.) Fishing is also very poplar on the island and offers you a chance to hook a snook, redfish, pompano or tarpon.
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The Ranger Station is open until 4 p.m. each day. There is a $2 per person fee (please us the honor box to pay fees, correct change is required.) It is located 4 nautical miles West of Pine Island (26.685789, -82.245381). Phone 941-964-0375
Campsites and cabins are available for overnight stays and a ferry service runs to the island from several mainland locations. Captiva Cruises is one of these services, they can be reached at 239-472-5300 or https://www.captivacruises.com/.