To spend a day or a weekend on your own deserted island? Heaven. This is one of the tougher and costlier state parks to get to, but well worth it. Solitude is guaranteed. Miles and miles of lonely Gulf of Mexico beaches are yours to roam, best at daybreak when colorful murex and tulip shells glimmer from the sands.
Location: La Costa Island
Fees: $2 per person. $20 boat camping, $22 tent camping, $40 primitive cabins.
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Cayo Costa State Park is a vacation destination in itself. With primitive cabins, tent campsites, an old village to explore, and nearly 6 miles of hiking trails meandering from the bayside mangrove forests to the oceanfront palms. “It’s as close as you can get to Hawaii without actually being there,” says noted photographer Clyde Butcher.
The park also manages landside cabins in the village of Bokeelia on the north end of Pine Island. Ferryboat service is from historic Pineland via the Tropic Star. This offshore park is quite a distance offshore, so while boaters are welcome, only strong sea kayakers may wish to attempt the journey. However, you can arrange kayak rentals through Tropic Star for use at Cayo Costa, and rent bikes at the park office once on the island.
FERRY: Tropic Star, 239-283-0015
$35 adult, $25 child, reservations required. Departs 9 AM and 2 PM daily, pickup at 1 and 3 PM, weather permitting. The cost of the trip includes hauling up to 50 lbs of camping gear per person, not including bicycles or kayaks.
Explore the park
- Cayo Costa Hiking Trails - Offshore from Boca Grande and Pine Island, Cayo Costa State Park is tough to get to but the 6.5 miles of trails and many more miles of beaches will be yours to roam