Cayo Costa State Park Dock

(941) 964-0375;(239) 633-1654
Cayo Costa State Park
Captiva, FL 33924

Berth Capacity

  • 14
Linear Docks
  • 100 Feet


Medical Facility
  • Within 5 Miles


- mph

Cayo Costa State Park, a pristine jewel nestled on the Gulf Coast of Florida, offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Located on a barrier island south of Boca Grande and north of North Captiva Island, this enchanting park spans over seven miles of untouched beauty. With its picturesque beaches and rich vegetation, the park protects the precious more...

Cayo Costa State Park: Your Ultimate Guide to Exploring Florida's Pristine Island

Cayo Costa State Park, a pristine jewel nestled on the Gulf Coast of Florida, offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Located on a barrier island south of Boca Grande and north of North Captiva Island, this enchanting park spans over seven miles of untouched beauty. With its picturesque beaches and rich vegetation, the park protects the precious Charlotte Harbor Estuary while also providing the perfect escape to explore Florida's wild side.

As a remote and primarily undeveloped island, Cayo Costa provides visitors with a rare glimpse into Florida's natural splendor, away from the bustling coastal cities. The park can only be accessed by boat or helicopter, adding to its sense of adventure and exclusivity. Surrounded by the serene waters of Pine Island Sound, Cayo Costa offers a plethora of experiences that will suit outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

From camping under the stars to shelling along the island's pristine shores, Cayo Costa State Park is truly a haven for those seeking tranquility and discovery in the great outdoors. The island's location also makes it an ideal destination for fishing and wildlife viewing, as it is home to diverse marine life and a variety of bird species. With its unspoiled landscape and captivating charm, Cayo Costa beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Florida's Gulf Coast.

Getting to the Park

Cayo Costa State Park, a beautiful and untouched piece of nature in Florida, is only accessible by boat. Whether you're traveling from Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Naples, or Cape Coral, there are several options to reach this hidden gem.

One option is the Cayo Costa ferry service provided by Captiva Cruises. Departing from Jug Creek Marina in Bokeelia, they offer both half-day and full-day trips to the park. Remember to call for reservations at (239) 283-0015, and an admission fee of $2 per person is required for Cayo Costa Park.

Another option is to use charter boat services. Several companies in the area also offer private boat rentals and charters to reach the park. Some popular choices include Sanibel Island Cruise Line and Pure Florida Naples. These operators provide a more customized experience, allowing you to explore the area at your own pace.

When planning your visit, make sure to account for the travel time and limited island facilities. Cayo Costa State Park promises a serene and secluded experience, with pristine beaches, calming waters, and abundant natural beauty. No matter your transportation choice, the journey to the park will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Beaches and Swimming

Cayo Costa State Park is home to an unspoiled and breathtaking Gulf Coast island. It boasts nine miles of pristine white sandy beaches, making it a haven for beach lovers and swimmers alike. The crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide the perfect opportunity for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. While enjoying the water, you might spot some incredible marine life like dolphins, manatees, and various species of shorebirds.


One of the popular activities at Cayo Costa State Park is beachcombing or shelling. Visitors can find a vast array of shells like clam, scallop, oyster, and olives. The best time to hunt for shells is during the low phase of the tide, as it exposes the most beach area.

Sea Turtles

Cayo Costa State Park also serves as an important nesting site for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles. During the sea turtle nesting season, from May through October, you might catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures laying eggs on the undeveloped shoreline. It's essential to give sea turtles space and not disturb them during this sensitive time.

In summary, Cayo Costa State Park's beaches and swimming offer a fantastic experience for all ages. With beautiful beaches, diverse marine life, and the opportunity to search for shells or witness sea turtles nesting, it is truly a unique and must-visit destination.

Fishing and Boating

Cayo Costa State Park offers a variety of fishing experiences for both novice and advanced anglers. The waters are teeming with fish like snook, redfish, tarpon, flounder, trout, snapper, whiting, and sheepshead. Fishing can be done from the shoreline or by boat, providing diverse opportunities for enthusiasts.

Kayaking and Paddling

The park is also a prime location for kayaking and paddling, with numerous islands and waterways suitable for exploration. Paddlers often encounter manatees, dolphins, alligators, ospreys, eagles, and various wading birds during their excursions. Kayak rentals are available for those who do not have their own equipment.

While kayaking, visitors can travel through the park's rich mangroves, seagrass beds, and shallow bays. The calm waters make it an ideal spot for stand-up paddleboarding too.

For those who prefer boating, Cayo Costa State Park is accessible only by watercraft, as it is a barrier island. Motorboats are a popular option for transporting gear and equipment, allowing visitors to access the park for picnicking and fishing. A picnic pavilion is available for visitors to relax and enjoy their lunch amidst the natural beauty of the island.

Whether you're an avid fisherman or just looking to relax on the water, Cayo Costa State Park has something for everyone. With its pristine shoreline, diverse marine life, and excellent opportunities for kayaking, paddling, and boating, the park promises a memorable adventure in the heart of Southwest Florida.

Wildlife Viewing and Bird-Watching

Birds of Cayo Costa

Cayo Costa State Park is a unique haven for bird-watchers, offering an escape to a relatively undisturbed tranquility. Visitors can walk or take bicycles on the nature trails to explore the island's diverse bird species. Among the bird species found on Cayo Costa are the American Oystercatcher, Black Skimmer, Snowy Plover, and Least Tern. These birds can be observed on the shores or on various trails throughout the park.

Migratory birds also visit the island during their journeys, making it an excellent spot for bird enthusiasts. Observing osprey and eagles is also possible, and their nests can sometimes be spotted in the park. Rangers at the ranger station provide interpretive programs and can help guide visitors to prime bird-watching spots.

Marine Life

In addition to birds, Cayo Costa State Park is home to a variety of marine life. The park is located between the azure blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Pelican Bay, which is teeming with wildlife. Visitors can go snorkeling to explore the underwater world, or take kayaks and canoes through the waterways for a closer look at their surroundings.

While exploring the park, keep an eye out for dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and various species of fish. The park's location on an unspoiled barrier island allows for unique opportunities to observe marine life in their natural habitat.

Camping and Cabins

Cayo Costa State Park offers an exceptional camping experience where visitors can enjoy the beauty of coastal Florida at its best. Within the park, there are 30 campsites designed for tent camping and 12 primitive cabins for those who prefer a little more shelter. These options provide great opportunities for overnight stays and make for memorable experiences.

To embark on your Cayo Costa camping adventure, you'll need to reserve your campsite or cabin through Reserve America by calling 1-800-326-3521. Once you've secured your accommodations, ensure to book your ferry service to the island, as there are no bridge connections available.

The campsites are nestled among coastal trees that offer shade and privacy. They're placed close to each other to minimize human impact on the pristine island environment, while still maintaining a sense of seclusion. Adjacent to the campsites, park visitors will find convenient access to restroom facilities with cold showers.

The primitive cabins offer basic accommodations with a bed and limited amenities, providing you with a chance to truly immerse yourself in the undisturbed nature of the island. Each cabin comes equipped with mosquito netting to ensure a comfortable stay.

Cayo Costa State Park not only offers a unique and unforgettable camping experience but also provides a wide range of activities to enjoy during the day. You can explore the island on foot or rent a bicycle from the gift shop for a leisurely ride through the park's trails. While soaking up the tranquil atmosphere, don't forget to take advantage of the park's other offerings, such as boating and hiking.

Hiking and Bicycling

Cayo Costa State Park offers a network of 6.5 miles of trails for both hiking and off-road bicycling. These trails provide an excellent opportunity for nature lovers and adventurers to discover the park's pristine environment.

One of the must-visit trails is the Cemetery Trail, which takes you through oak-palm hammocks and provides a scenic route for both hikers and bikers. Additionally, AllTrails recommends a variety of easy hiking options suitable for the whole family, with elevation gains ranging from 9 to 49 feet.

While hiking, you may encounter diverse wildlife and vegetation, and it is essential to bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray to keep you protected during your journey. Similarly, when biking, ensure you have the appropriate gear for a smooth off-road adventure.

The park's trails are well-marked and maintained, making them suitable for individuals of various skill levels. As you explore this beautiful landscape, remember to abide by the Leave No Trace principles and be respectful of the park's rules and regulations.

Overall, hiking and bicycling in Cayo Costa State Park is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience that showcases Florida's natural beauty. Just don't forget to pack your sense of adventure along with your gear for a truly memorable day in this unique setting.

Amenities and Fees

Cayo Costa State Park offers a variety of amenities for visitors to enjoy a comfortable and memorable experience. The park features 30 tent sites in a primitive environment, where each site is equipped with a picnic table and a ground grill.

For restroom facilities, Cayo Costa provides modern restrooms with flushable toilets and cold water rinse-off showers. The restrooms are located nearby the tent sites, making it convenient for campers. Additionally, the campsites have access to potable water sources to ensure visitors have fresh and clean water during their stay.

The park operates daily from 8 a.m. to sundown, and the ranger station is open until 4 p.m. Visitors can enjoy more than 8 miles of beaches and various recreational activities, including an amphitheater for park events and programs. However, it's important to note that there are no concessions or equipment rental facilities available.

When it comes to fees, Cayo Costa State Park charges a $2 admission fee per person, payable through an honor box. Correct change is required for the fees. The tent camping fee is $22 per night, inclusive of tax, with an additional nonrefundable reservation fee of $6.70. Parking is available at the park, making it convenient for visitors to access the area.

In summary, Cayo Costa State Park offers essential amenities, including picnic tables, ground grills, restrooms, and parking, to make your visit enjoyable and comfortable. The fees are affordable, with park hours accommodating a full day of outdoor fun.

History and Culture

Cayo Costa State Park is a unique and historically rich location. For over 4,000 years, a succession of Native American fishing cultures lived and worked in the Charlotte Harbor area, of which Cayo Costa forms the barrier island. The well-known Calusa Indians once inhabited this area when Europeans first arrived, continuing an ancient fishing tradition that was established thousands of years ago.

Archaeological research has discovered several shell mounds, or "middens," on Cayo Costa, which provide us with valuable insight into the thriving indigenous society that existed as far back as 4,000 years ago. This society was part of the Caloosahatchee culture, and much of what we know about the Calusa people comes from these large mounds of debris and shells.

In the 18th century, Cayo Costa experienced a shift with Cuban fishers starting to frequent the area. They built dwellings known as ranchos and established various outposts for catching, cleaning, and preparing fish. The fish were then processed and sold at markets along the southwest coasts of the Florida peninsula.

As a barrier island, Cayo Costa plays a crucial role in preserving Florida's unique coastal ecosystems. Barrier islands, like Cayo Costa, serve as natural buffers, protecting the mainland from storm surges and the potential impacts of hurricanes, such as Hurricane Ian. These islands provide essential habitat for various plant and animal species native to coastal Florida.

Today, Cayo Costa State Park is a popular destination for visitors seeking to explore and appreciate the natural beauty, rich history, and diverse culture that this extraordinary place has to offer.

Park Regulations and Safety

Cayo Costa State Park is a beautiful barrier island park with nine miles of beaches and acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, and mangrove swamps. Before visiting, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the park regulations and safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

The park is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Keep in mind that it is crucial to abide by boating laws and regulations in the area. If you plan to rent a bicycle from the park's gift shop, helmets are highly recommended, and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.

When exploring Cayo Costa State Park, you may encounter various wildlife species. Be respectful of their natural habitats, and do not feed or provoke any animals. Maintain a safe distance and observe them from afar.

While visiting the park, be sure to stop by the ranger station for any questions, regulations, or assistance. Park rangers are available to provide information about the park's unique features, safety measures, and regulations. Rangers can also assist with directions, weather updates, and any emergencies that may arise.

When enjoying the park's pristine beaches, be cautious of the tide and currents. Do not swim in areas with strong currents, and always swim with a partner if possible. Be aware of the sun's intensity, and use proper sun protection measures such as sunscreen and sunglasses to prevent sunburn and overheating.

By adhering to Cayo Costa State Park's rules, regulations, and safety measures, visitors can fully appreciate the park's natural beauty and have a memorable experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cayo Costa State Park open?

Cayo Costa State Park is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. until sundown. The ranger station is open until 4 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the official webpage.

What are the accommodation options at Cayo Costa?

Cayo Costa State Park offers primitive cabins and tent camping sites for overnight stays. Reservations can be made in advance through the Florida State Parks website.

When is the best time to visit Cayo Costa?

The best time to visit Cayo Costa depends on your preferences. The park's beautiful, untouched beaches and stunning natural scenery can be enjoyed year-round. However, keep in mind that the summer months can be hot and humid, while the winter months may be cooler and more comfortable.

What transportation options are available to reach Cayo Costa?

Cayo Costa State Park is reached only by boat. There are no roads or bridges to the park. Visitors can use private boats or take advantage of several public ferry services that operate between nearby locations and the island. More information about transportation options can be found on the park's FAQ page.

Are there camping facilities at Cayo Costa State Park?

Yes, there are camping facilities at Cayo Costa State Park. The park offers primitive cabins and tent sites with picnic tables, grills, and access to restroom facilities.

What activities can visitors enjoy at Cayo Costa?

Visitors to Cayo Costa State Park can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, fishing, shelling, bird-watching, and hiking. There are also opportunities for boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. More information on park activities can be found on the Cayo Costa State Park webpage.

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