While a public park open to all, Don Pedro Island State Park is a rare retreat for bathers, swimmers, and sun worshipers. It’s secret? It’s offshore. Mostly.
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Location: Cape Haze
Address: 8450 Placida Rd, Cape Haze FL 33946
Fees: $3 per vehicle
Restroom: at the visitor center
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed pets welcome, but not on the beach.
From Englewood, follow CR 775 (Placida Rd) south to the park entrance on the right.
The park is divided into two parts. Along Placida Road, a 100-acre tract of pine flatwoods and scrub fronts the Intercoastal Waterway at the south end of Lemon Bay.
Across the channel, the park is a barrier island south of Knight Island and north of Little Gasparilla Island off the Cape Haze Peninsula.
It’s not very far across the narrow, sheltered inlet to enjoy the quiet pleasures of the southern tip of Don Pedro Island – but you have to have the means to get there.
So, how do you get to Don Pedro Island?
1. Paddle across the channel from the boat ramp. Bring your own kayak or paddleboard or rent one from Hooked on SUP Paddlesports (941-504-1699).
2. Use your own shallow-draft private boat to get to the dock. Put in at the boat ramp on the land side. Dock on the bay side via a channel from the Intracoastal Waterway at green marker #35. The channel is less than 3 feet deep.
3. Take a water taxi. Call Boat to Beach for a private ferry across. Call 941-375-9299 to reserve your trip.
One you’re there, a dune boardwalk leads over to the picnic area and across to the beach. It’s a mile long and all yours.
The easier trail to tackle starts at the parking area on the landside. It’s a 1.3-mile loop made up of two trails, the North Trail and the South Trail. These short nature trails traverse the pine flatwoods and scrub.
A nature trail on the barrier island immerses you in the coastal dunes and coastal scrub. Plus there’s a mile of oceanfront for walking (2 mile round trip), and this is one place the shells won’t be picked over.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Where Oyster Creek meets Lemon Bay in Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park provides easy interpretive hikes through coastal habitats on a wildlife-rich peninsula
At Amberjack Environmental Park in Rotonda, a surprising meld of scrub and mangrove habitats means great birding along the high ground of the Cape Haze Peninsula
A legacy of Florida’s early phosphate mining, the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail now provides a protected greenway through a very residential corner of Charlotte County