505 Barefoot Beach Blvd., Naples
One of the last undeveloped barrier islands in Southwest Florida, Barefoot Beach is regularly rated among the country’s best beaches. The 342-acre preserve may just be the region’s most perfect pairing of natural beauty and great amenities.
Corner of Crayton Road and Seagate Drive, Naples
The three-quarter-mile boardwalk through the mangroves at Clam Pass is a memorable, nature-filled jaunt. The thriving tidal ecosystem is home to birds and other wildlife. Once you’ve made it through—via foot or courtesy tram—one of Naples’ most pristine and scenic beaches awaits. With a concession stand, restrooms, equipment rentals, and more, you won’t need to overpack.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
11135 Gulfshore Drive, Naples
Secluded and relaxing, this park boasts one of the most unspoiled beaches in the United States. Along the nature trails and open waters, expect to spot resident and migratory birds, tortoises, dolphins, and more. The park’s waters are perfect for fishing and shelling. There is a boat launch and specific areas designated for anglers to drop their lines. The Naples Beach Adventures concessionaire in parking lot No. 4 offers food and beverages as well as paddlecraft and beach gear rentals. Beach wheelchairs are available by reservation.
1301 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples
Lowdermilk Park is a great place for the whole family. Spend the day at this beachfront park with two playgrounds, picnic tables, sand volleyball courts, and two rentable gazebos. Convenient facilities include a concession stand, spacious restrooms, and outdoor showers.
430 Hernando Drive, Marco Island
Tigertail Beach is a jewel along Marco Island’s western shore. On the island’s north end, this pristine beach can be accessed by five boardwalks though a mangrove forest. Visitors often wade across the tidal bay to Sand Dollar Island, a popular bird nesting area. The beach has an abundance of shells and sand dollars. Amenities include Jet Ski, paddleboard, and beach gear rentals, food and beverage concessions, picnic areas, a playground, and restrooms.
Vanderbilt Beach Park
West end of Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples
Beachgoers can drop off their gear at the circle before parking in the nearby garage. This county beach offers wheelchairs and life jacket loans, as well restrooms and showers. Snacks and watersports rentals are available at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and Vanderbilt Inn resorts.
Alison Hagerup Beach Park
14790 Captiva Drive, Captiva
This northern-most public beach on Captiva is as far from the beaten path you can get without having to hop on a boat. This tucked-away locale is a best-kept secret for watching amazing sunsets and shelling. The beach park is located at the end of San-Cap Road, directly behind South Seas Plantation. There is a pay-to-park lot with direct access to Captiva Beach. Amenities include picnic shelters and restrooms.
Bonita Beach Park
27954 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs
This stunning beachfront park on the southern tip of Bonita Beach offers a variety of amenities including restrooms, showers, a playground, volleyball court, boardwalk, and paddlecraft landing/launch. Sand dunes and coastal vegetation surround a gazebo and eight picnic shelters with grills.
Bowditch Point Regional Park
50 Estero Blvd., Estero Island
Bowditch Point Regional Park encompasses the 17-acre northern tip of Estero Island, with 10 acres set aside for restoration and preservation. Walking trails wind through varied environments and offer excellent opportunities for birdwatching and taking in views of Estero Bay. Bowditch Point, a designated Great Florida Birding Trail site, has 10 free dock slips for boats up to 28 feet in length and a paddlecraft launch. Other amenities include a boardwalk, fishing, charcoal grills, food/concessions, picnic shelters, restrooms, and showers.
1700 Bowman’s Beach Road, Sanibel Island
Isolated and picturesque, this is one of the most popular beaches on Sanibel Island, though there is plenty of space to stretch out. Great shelling and amenities make it worth the five-minute hike from the parking area to the beach. Adventurous beachcombers can walk for several miles on unobstructed white-sand beaches covered in shells. Amenities include charcoal grills, fishing, fitness stations, hiking trails, paddlecraft landing/launch, picnic shelters, a playground, restrooms, and showers. Courtesy beach wheelchairs are provided upon 24-hour notice to City of Sanibel Police Department Dispatch (239-472-3111).
Bunche Beach Preserve on San Carlos Bay
18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers
This 718-acre county park ranges from a sandy beach to mangrove forests to salt flats. It contains a wide variety of wildlife and flora, offering great photo opportunities and stunning sunsets. Bunche Beach Preserve is a designated Great Florida Birding Trail site, and Bird Patrol Tours (239-533-7275) are offered. The outdoor activity center has two paddlecraft launches, two wildlife viewing and fishing piers, a 310-foot boardwalk, and restrooms. The onsite Kayak Excursions (239-297-7011) is a full-service outfitter.
19931 Sanibel Causeway Road (SR/CR 867), Sanibel
The Sanibel Causeway links Sanibel Island to the mainland via two spoil islands bisecting San Carlos Bay. The two islands provide bay and Gulf access and free parking. Traveling from the mainland toward Sanibel Island, the first island is referred to as Island A while the second is Island B. Both are popular for fishing, wading/swimming, picnicking, canoeing/kayaking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. Island A has parking only. Island B offers restrooms, drinking fountains, and a few picnic tables. Leashed pets are welcome.
Cape Coral Yacht Club
5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral
Located on the shores of the Caloosahatchee River, this public beach is part of the popular Yacht Club Community Park. It is a happening family destination featuring picnic shelters, barbecue grills, restrooms, showers, a fishing pier, playground, heated swimming pool, marina, docks, and a restaurant. Free beach wheelchairs are available at the public pool.
Gasparilla Island State Park
880 Belcher Road, Boca Grande
Separated from the mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, Gasparilla Island lies in a barrier island chain that falls into both Lee and Charlotte counties. The centerpiece of Gasparilla is the restored 1890 Port Boca Grande Lighthouse in this park on the island’s south end. Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and nature study are popular activities that can be accessed from five parking lots. Two picnic areas (at the Range Light and Boca Grande Lighthouse parking lots) offer shaded pavilions and scenic water views.
26082 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs
Little Hickory Island Park is in an isolated location just off Little Hickory Island with family-style restrooms, shelters, picnic tables, and paddlecraft landing/launching.
Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
Lovers Key is an idyllic destination to visit no matter the season—and it’s easy to reach with a wide range of activities. With 1,616 acres providing 2.5 miles of beachfront and back bays, Lovers Key is a group of four barrier islands situated between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs. You can make it a simple trip to the beach or go hiking or biking along 4.5 miles of trails, fishing, picnicking, birding, kayaking, paddleboarding, and geocaching. A park tram loops every 15 minutes from the parking area inside the main entrance to the shoreline. Near the covered tram shelter, there is a shower house and gazebo. The south beach features Hurricane Charley’s Hideaway, a bamboo-covered snack shack. Lovers Key Adventures (239-765-7788) sells sundries and rents out beach chairs and umbrellas, bicycles, pedal boats, and paddlecrafts. A boat ramp is located offers direct access to Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The on-site bait shop sells live and frozen bait.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park
950 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers
Lynn Hall Memorial Park is located on Fort Myers Beach, north of the foot of Matanzas Pass Bridge, next to the bustling Times Square district. It features the iconic Fort Myers Beach Pier with a bait shop, pole rentals, a gift shop, picnic shelters, outdoor rinse-off showers, restrooms with changing facilities, and a playground.
Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park
1 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island
Located on Sanibel Island’s southern tip, the 1884 lighthouse makes this family beach a picturesque location for shelling. It provides a clear view of the Gulf and plenty of large shade trees for picnicking, strolling, swimming, fishing from the pier, sailing, or windsurfing. Courtesy beach wheelchairs are provided upon 24-hour notice to City of Sanibel Police Department Dispatch (239-472-3111).
17200 Captiva Drive, Sanibel Island
Located just past the bridge to Captiva, Turner Beach is an ideal place for sunsets and fishing from the beach and the rock jetty. Swimmers should stay away from the bridge area due to deep water, strong tides, and the threat of undertow. Bars and restaurants are nearby. Amenities include paddlecraft landing/launching and restrooms.
Plan to pay for parking at either metered parking spaces or pay stations—with a wide range of hourly or daily fees—or obtain a permit. (Any disability permit holder may park at any space without payment.) Rules and fees vary for city, county, and state beaches. Research parking permit programs through the city or county where you will most frequently visit the beach.