Hidden Beach

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Florida State Parks Web Site
Cayo Costa Aerial View

Hidden Beach: Cayo Costa

July 14, 2010
by Sarah Amandolare
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.

About Cayo Costa

Cayo Costa State Park is located on La Costa Island near the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. The island is what is known as a barrier island, in that it (along with other islands nearby) protects Charlotte Harbor and the Pine Island Sound from storms.  According to Florida State Parks Cayo Costa has more than 2500 acres and more than 9 miles of beaches.

What to Do At Cayo Costa: Toting, Shelling and Kayaking

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 at Cayo Costa, 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.

Cayo Costa may feel remote because you can only access it by private boat or ferry, 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 the seclusion of Cayo Costa, 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 your trip to the state park 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.”

Ferries to Cayo Costa

As mentioned before, the only way to get to the island of La Costa and the Cayo Costa Park is by boat. Tropic Star Cruises has ferry service to Cayo Costa. Rates and ferry departure times are available on the site.

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.

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