Camping on Florida's barrier islands

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 14-21, 1996
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Camping on Florida's barrier islands
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Camping on Florida's barrier islands
Q: Any advice on camping on the Gulf Coast of Florida, preferably more south than north?
Lisa Vande Hei
Lexington, KY
[email protected]
Cayo Costa State Park, Florida
A: To avoid the throngs of shell-hunters on Sanibel and Captiva islands, we recommend pitching your tent on Cayo Costa, a neighboring seven-mile-long barrier island off Florida's southwest coast. Located west of Ft. Myers at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, Cayo Costa is nearly 90 percent state parkland, with its lush oak-and-palm hammock interior and wide, white-sand beach. In addition to nearly 400 species of shells--including baby's ears and blanded tulips--there are 12 primitive cabins (call 813-964-0375 for reservations) and a pine-and-palm shaded camping area for about 30 tents, all 100 yards from the Gulf of Mexico. Resist pocketing any of the park's live specimens and don't forget your fishing tackle: Boca Grande Pass, off the northern tip of the island, is notorious tarpon territory.

Getting there means arranging for a private boat through the 4-Winds Marina in Bokeelia, 20 miles west of North Fort Myers (813-283-0015) or the Boca Grande Pass Marina in Boca Grande Pass (813-964-0607). For more information, call the Cayo Costa State Park at 813-964-0375 and check out "Sand, Ho!" which contains a Gulf Coast section, in our July 1993 issue.

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