On this protected barrier island, 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.
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily, unless you are a registered camper. Then you can roam the dunes by moonlight.
While it is possible to paddle here from Pine Island, it’s a tough paddle, especially if the water gets choppy in Pine Island Sound. Better to go by boat.
Tropic Star runs day trips out of Bokeelia on Pine Island, a relatively short trip across the water. King Fisher Fleet runs day trips to Cayo Costa out of their home base in Punta Gorda at Fisherman’s Village.
The official concessionaire for Florida State Parks, Captiva Cruises, runs a variety of trips to the island, including half-day and full-day shelling adventures. Contact them for current pricing for overnight dropoffs with camping gear, bicycles, or kayaks: 239-472-5300.
All tour boat operators require reservations in advance. Call or book online.
On a barrier island that defines the south entrance to Charlotte Harbor, Cayo Costa State Park is a vacation destination in itself. With primitive cabins, tent campsites, an old village to explore, and more than 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 shelling on these lonely beaches is some of the best in the state.
The park also has landside cabins in the village of Bokeelia on the north end of Pine Island. Kayak and bike rentals can be arranged in advance for use on the island once you get there.