Cayo Costa: A Hidden Gem

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A true hidden gem, Cayo Costa remains one of Florida’s best state parks. The more than 2,400-acre park is relatively unspoiled when it comes to development, making it a truly unique Southwest Florida island.

In fact, it’s said that the island is nearly as pristine today as it was centuries ago. Located about four miles to the west of Fort Myers, you can only reach the large barrier island by boat, adding to its remoteness.

A ferry takes passengers to Cayo Costa from Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, or nearby Pine Island. The ferries only run once or twice a day, depending on which ferry you choose.

Once on the island, though, you’ll find some incredible beaches and unique scenery. The relaxed island stretches several miles long, but its only one-mile wide. This presents miles of beaches and wilderness to explore.

You won’t find any of the big attractions found in many of Florida’s large tourist destinations, but rather mostly empty beaches and plenty of natural untapped beauty. The island is a fabulous place to do some swimming, fishing and even camping.

There are some primitive cabins on the island, plus shelling is also a popular pastime for those who venture to Cayo Costa, especially during low tide. You can also do some biking on the dirt trails or even some hiking.

The island additionally remains a fantastic location for birdwatching, spotting turtles in the summer, or even spotting manatees and dolphins out in the water. You can also take a kayak along on your visit to the island or rent one once you arrive.

When you go, keep in mind you’ll need to pay for transportation to the island, plus a small use fee for visiting Cayo Costa. It’s cash-only for all island services, including rentals, use fees and firewood. Snacks at the camp store are limited, and pets are only allowed in certain locations.