Summer Guide / Beaches

Sandy Shores, Barrier Islands and Private Coves

BY June 1, 2021
Lush trails lead from six parking lots to the pristine Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples. (Kelly Jones)

The Gulf of Mexico’s breathtaking sunsets, endless stretches of sand, crystalline water and magnificent wildlife can easily leave even the most seasoned beachgoer spellbound. Here’s where to go to have fun in the sun in Port Charlotte, Fort Myers Beach, Naples, Marco Island and all points in between.

Call or check the organizations’ websites for the latest information.



Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda

Port Charlotte Beach Park, 4500 Harbor Blvd., Port Charlotte, (941) 949-4615. Amenities include a boardwalk with fishing pier, boat ramp, canoe/kayak launch, horseshoe pits, bocce, basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts, playground area, sheltered picnic tables, restrooms, heated swimming pool and a recreation center.

Englewood Beach at Chadwick Park, 2100 North Beach Road, Englewood, (941) 681-3742. This beach features a 900-foot boardwalk with three covered lookouts, restrooms, showers, water stations, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, playground area, food vendors and sheltered picnic tables with grills.



Marco Island

South Marco Beach Access, 870 County Road 951, (239) 252-4000. A beach with parking available a short walk across the boulevard on Swallow Avenue. Includes restroom facilities.

Tigertail Beach, 480 Hernando Drive, (239) 252-4000. This county park has restrooms, boardwalks, a picnic area, playground, butterfly garden and concession stand offering beach rentals and food.



Clam Pass Park, 465 Seagate Drive, (239) 252-4000. Trams at this county park transport visitors over a boardwalk to a beach with a picnic area and concession stand. Chairs, cabanas, kayaks and restroom facilities are available.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, 11135 Gulf Shore Drive, (239) 597-6196. Located at the intersection of 111th Avenue North and Gulf Shore Drive, this beach’s facilities include picnic areas, restrooms with wheelchair access and outdoor showers. Park rangers conduct nature programs and a boat ramp is available with a $5 fee.

Lowdermilk Park, 1301 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., (239) 213-7120. The park offers 1,000 feet of beachfront, outdoor showers, gazebos, picnic tables, a playground, volleyball court, concession stand and duck pond. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available.

Naples Pier, at the end of 12th Avenue South in Old Naples, (239) 213-7120. The iconic Naples pier has restrooms, a snack bar and lots of atmosphere. Dolphins are seen frequently. It’s also great for fishing and sunset-watching. Metered parking is located nearby, with additional parking and access points along Gulf Shore Boulevard.

North Gulf Shore Beach Access, 4989-4999 Gulf Shore Blvd. N. (239) 252-4000. Known locally as Seagate Beach, this area offers a beautiful walk between two upscale condominiums. Parking is available on Seagate Drive.

Vanderbilt Beach Park, 100 Vanderbilt Beach Road, (239) 252-4000. This is a tree- and residence-lined county beach. Wheelchair-accessible parking available. Snacks and watersports rentals available through The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and Vanderbilt Inn resorts. Metered parking or parking garage available.

Via Miramar Beach, 2699 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., (239) 213-1820. The beach has public access on Gulf Shore Boulevard North, just south of Harbour Drive, with ample parking and an outdoor shower. A short walk south takes you to the jetty at Doctors Pass, which provides Gulf access from Naples Bay.

Captiva Island is known for its shell- and bird-stocked beaches. (Getty Images)


Boca Grande

Gasparilla Island State Park, 880 Belcher Road, (941) 964-0375. The beaches here are great for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, shelling and picnicking. The park also features the Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890.


Bonita Springs

Barefoot Beach Preserve, 505 Barefoot Beach Blvd., (239) 252-4000. Look for the signs at the intersection of Barefoot Beach Boulevard and Bonita Beach Road. Enter past the security booth and continue 2 miles. This 342-acre preserve contains a coastal hammock and a 1-mile nature trail. Facilities include changing rooms, showers, restrooms and a snack bar. The preserve also offers nature interpretation stations.

Bonita Beach Park, 27954 Hickory Blvd., (239) 949-4615. Facilities here include picnic tables, grills, a playground, a sand volleyball court and restrooms.

Bonita Beach Dog Park, 8800 Estero Blvd., (239) 707-1874. A beach where dogs may run free. No facilities; parking is free.

Little Hickory Island Beach Park, 26082 Hickory Blvd., (239) 949-4615. Located between Bonita Beach and Lovers Key, this is a popular beach for fishing. Restrooms, picnic tables and shelters available.


Cape Coral

Yacht Club Community Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, (239) 574-0806. Located on the Caloosahatchee River, the area features picnic tables, restrooms, outdoor showers, tennis courts, a free boat ramp, barbecue area, public pool and large beach pavilion available for rent. Marine biology classes offered.

Comprised of four barrier islands, Lovers Key State Park, in Fort Myers Beach, recently debuted a state-of-the-art Welcome & Discovery Center. (Getty Image)

Fort Myers Beach

Bowditch Point Regional Park, 50 Estero Blvd., (239) 432-2154. Take Matanzas Pass Bridge to the beach; turn right at foot of bridge and follow Estero Boulevard to the end. You’ll find 17 acres of recreational area and nature preserve. Includes restrooms, picnic tables, concessions, grills, hiking paths and wheelchair-accessible beach access.

Bunche Beach Preserve, 18201 John Morris Road, (239) 432-2154. On San Carlos Bay, the beach overlooks Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. Here, there are 718 acres of nature preserves, making it a popular location with fishermen and paddlers. Restrooms available; limited parking.

Crescent Beach Family Park, 1100 Estero Blvd., (239) 229-1610. Park offers four access points to the beach, sand volleyball courts and a landscaped picnic area.

Fort Myers Beach, just east of Lynn Hall Memorial Park, 950 Estero Blvd., (239) 432-2154. This beach features plenty of bars and cafés. Rent WaveRunners, parasail, jet-boat and more. Park at Lynn Hall Memorial Park, in a private lot or at meters under the bridge; or ride the trolley.

Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., (239) 463-4588. Florida’s most-visited park is comprised of four barrier islands between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach, with beaches, nature trails and concessions. Plus a new Welcome & Discovery Center with interactive environmental exhibits.

Lynn Hall Memorial Park, 950 Estero Blvd., (239) 229-1610. This beach is located in the heart of the city of Fort Myers Beach. Amenities include restrooms, a playground, fishing pier, picnic shelters, grills, shops and restaurants at Times Square pedestrian mall. 432-2154.

Newton Beach Park, 4650 Estero Blvd., (239) 765-0865. The former beachfront home of Jim and Ellie Newton, who were friends with Edison, Ford and Lindbergh. Metered parking, outdoor showers and the historic home is available for rental.

On Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach is popular but feels secluded with its location set back 10 minutes from the parking lot, through a wooded trail. (Getty Images)

Sanibel/Captiva Islands

Alison Hagerup Beach Park, 14790 Captiva Drive, Captiva, (239) 472-2472. The northern-most public-access beach on Captiva Island, Alison Hagerup is popular as a romantic spot to catch beautiful sunsets. And right next-door is the equally captivating Captiva Beach. Picnic areas and restrooms.

Blind Pass Beach, 6491-6499 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel. This expansive beach is a great place for fishing and shelling. Don’t be surprised if you find a horseshoe crab or two, as well. Signs warn against swimming.

Bowman’s Beach, 1700 Bowmans Beach Road, Sanibel, (239) 472-6397. This popular Sanibel beach is noted for its wildlife, shelling and seclusion. It offers plentiful parking plus restrooms, changing rooms, showers, drinking fountains, picnic tables, grills and parking for recreational vehicles.

Causeway Islands, 19931 Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel, (239) 600-4886. Visitors pay a toll to Sanibel and Captiva islands. Beaches are located on both sides of the road with picnic tables and restrooms on the second island and offer excellent shelling and fishing. Leashed pets welcome.

Cayo Costa State Park, 4 nautical miles west of Pine Island, (941) 964-0375. Just north of Captiva and just south of Boca Grande is an untouched island paradise that is accessible only by boat or helicopter. It offers 9 miles of beautiful, pristine beaches and more than 2,500 acres of pine forest and mangrove swamp.

Gulfside City Park/Algiers Beach, 2001 Algiers Lane, Sanibel, (239) 472-6397. Named after a steamboat once pulled ashore and turned into a house, these beaches offer shaded picnic areas, boardwalks and restrooms. Pet-friendly.

Lighthouse Beach Park, 110 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, (239) 472-6397. At this historic, working lighthouse at the eastern tip of Sanibel, you’ll find a fishing pier, restrooms, hiking paths and parking for recreational vehicles.

Silver Key Preserve, off of Clam Bayou Lane, Sanibel. This beautiful 64-acre preserve is wonderful spot for bird-watching and shelling. Note: There are no facilities, trash bins or parking lots on the preserve.

Tarpon Bay Beach, 111 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, (239) 472-6397. Pets on leashes allowed. Beach offers restrooms and parking for recreational vehicles.

Turner Beach, 17200 Captiva Drive, Captiva, (239) 472-6397. The beach is at the north end of Blind Pass, which separates Sanibel and Captiva islands. Popular with families and fishermen, although signs in some areas caution against swimming because of swift currents. Restrooms and outdoor showers available on the Captiva side.

Related Images: