Hidden Beach of the Week: Cayo Costa
There are no stores or businesses on Cayo Costa, so intrepid beach-goers will have to make like pirates exploring a deserted island. Located west of North Fort Myers in the Gulf of Mexico, this Florida state park offers a diverse selection of outdoor activities, but remains quiet and peacefully untouched, accessible only by private boat or passenger ferry.
On Cayo Costa, there are miles of trails for your sport of choice. Rent a bicycle, go for a hike or get your Florida fishing license and try out the prime saltwater angling opportunities. Other more soothing activities are also available, including manatee viewing, bird watching and shelling, which is best in the wintertime. The Florida Online Park Guide discusses the educational programs at the island’s amphitheater, and doles out practical information regarding the ferry and fees.
It might be the trek over water that makes Cayo Costa feel so remote, but according to a travelogue in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the beach is not all that far from the rest of the world. The more crowded Boca Grande on nearby island Gasparilla is visible from Cayo Costa. There is a price to pay for such seclusion, however. There is nowhere to buy provisions on the island, so visitors must tote everything needed for a day, or for a few days of camping, along with them on the ferry. A nice way to unwind after the trip is a bike ride or hike along Cemetery Trail, which shows remnants of an 18th century community that lived on the island. Just remember to book a campsite or cabin up to a year in advance, warns the article.
Cayo Costa’s seashells are so abundant that they almost seem magical. Parenting blog Pass the Torch has photos of the endless shell-strewn white sands, captured during a family day trip to the island. Blogger Kelly Curtis said, “We scavenged for nearly two hours on the practically deserted beach, discarding numerous beautiful shells we probably would have kept somewhere else.”
Consider kayaking the 16-mile trip from Pine Island to Cayo Costa. Central Florida Kayak Trips leads the excursion, with overnight camping on Cayo Costa, which “along with its better-known cousins, Sanibel and Captiva, form a barrier island chain that protects Charlotte Harbor from storms in the Gulf of Mexico.”