CLOSED while additional damage is assessed from Hurricane Idalia.
The destructive force of Hurricane Ian walloped Lovers Key State Park on its way to decimating Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island immediately to its north.
The park has since reopened with access to the beach. Portable restrooms and drinking water are now in place.
It may be some time before the Discovery Center, Estero Bay boat ramps, and the trails at Black Island reopen. Check the park website before visiting.
The details and photographs we present on this page from our trips prior to the hurricane. Once facilities are restored, we will revisit.
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Main Parking: 26.3921, -81.8761
Address: 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach
Fees: $8 per vehicle
Restroom: At Parking Lot 1 tram stop and the Discovery Center
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset. Leashed dogs welcome except on beach. A separate dog beach is south of the park along Estero Blvd.
From Interstate 75 exit 116, Bonita Beach Rd, drive west on Bonita Beach Rd for 5.8 miles. It reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Turn north on Hickory Blvd and continue along the Bonita Beach Causeway for 4.7 miles, which becomes Estero Blvd. Turn left at the park’s main entrance and follow the entrance road to the beach parking area. A tram takes you to the beach.
Across from the main entrance is the bayside frontage and outfitter at the boat ramp for access to Estero Bay. Over the next bridge, a half mile north, is Lovers Key Bayside, a picnic area along the bay.
About the Park
Focused on a pleasant stretch of beach, one of the better spots for shelling along the shelling on the southwest coast of Florida, Lovers Key is a mangrove-edged puzzle of lagoons and channels.
Before the state stepped in and bought these barrier islands, canals and channels were carved out of Black Island by a developer, creating miles of spoil piles edged by deep water.
Black Island was repurposed as a recreational playground with hiking and biking trails that loop back on themselves.
The beach is a slender strand but it goes on for quite some distance, affording easy access to the shallow waters of the Gulf.
It is a sun-drenched, shell-strewn ribbon of sand with a view of Sanibel Island. Beach access is provided by a tram that loops around and drops off at two points along the beach
You are also welcome to walk the paved trail and its bridges to admire the wading birds in the shallow mangrove-lined channels. Roseate spoonbills feed in these tidal mud flats.
Outside the main gate are several more access points to beachfront and bayfront. Across the street are the boat ramps and outfitter on Estero Bay.
A half mile north is the Bayside Picnic Area. At the north edge of the island, a walk along the Gulf shoreline leads to quiet, sunny strands at North Beach.
To the south, a dog beach is provided on the Gulf to allow dog lovers to let their best friends play in the surf.
Black Island lies at the north end of Lovers Key, a puzzle of man-made fill and channels created for a condo complex.
Allowed to rewild itself after acquisition by the state, it hosted a loop of up to 5 miles on pair of hiking trails we documented for 50 Hikes in South Florida.
In addition to being an important stop along the Great Calusa Blueway, Lovers Key State Park has mangrove channels popular with paddlers.
The park fronts Estero Bay on its east side, where kayak and paddleboard rentals were available from an outfitter next to the boat ramp.
From this launch point, you can paddle into the bay to visit Mound Key. The boat ramp is not yet open but hand launching may be possible. Call the park for a current update.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.