Costa State Park
|Location: Pine Island,
|Distance: 16 miles
round trip from Pine Island to Cayo Costa
|Atlas: Page 104 C-1
|Last Update: December 2002
||Canoe OK: No
Cayo Costa is a Florida State Park located at the north end of
Lacosta Island. This island, along with its better-known cousins,
Sanibel and Captiva, form a barrier island chain that protects Charlotte
Harbor from storms in the Gulf of Mexico. Lacosta and Cayo Costa
State Park are accessible only by boat and offer tremendous opportunities
for those adventurous enough to make the trip. The Gulf side of
Lacosta features miles of unspoiled beaches, sparkling white sand
and blue water. The mainland side of the island exposes many mangrove
islands and shallow green water.
The trip from Pine Island to Cayo Costa is not difficult during
good weather, but could quickly become a challenge as fast moving
storms appear. The number of miles and exposed open water is what
gives this trip its advanced rating.
Important Hurricane Note: On August 13, 2004 Hurricane
Charley made landfall at Cayo Costa. Most mangroves, trees and other
large vegetation were destroyed, changing the tropical landscape
for many years.
Exploring mangrove tunnels at
John and Penny watch a sailboat
From I-75 and SR 78 (Pine Island Road - exit 143, old#26) in Fort
Myers go 13 miles towards Matlacha. You may want to stop at Gulf
Coast Kayak (941-283-1125) in Matlacha for information on Cayo Costa
and the surrounding area. Continue west for five miles to Pine Island
Center. Turn north (right) and go four miles to Mattson Marine (941-283-4334)
in Pineland. The parking fee is about $8.00 per day. Overnight parking
may be extra.
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Camping Gear (overnight trips)
Money- Overnight trip with parking, camping & lunch at
Cabbage Key, $50.
[Optional] Marine Radio
White Sand Beach
The exclusive Collier Inn on
Tour: Pine Island to Cayo Costa State Park (16 miles)
Begin at the boat launch at Mattson Marine in Pineland. Proceed
west following the boat channel being careful to stay out of the
way of boat traffic. During low tide boats move quickly through
this area to avoid running aground. Paddle approximately 2.5 miles
to Part Island. Halfway up the island you'll see the entrance to
a lagoon. At the far south end of the lagoon is a wonderfully large
mangrove tunnel that takes you through the rest of the island. After
passing through the mangrove tunnel, head west toward Useppa Island.
This island features many expensive homes and a very nice upscale
bed and breakfast, the Collier Inn. Before stopping for a quick
bite to eat, have a change of clothes and your credit card handy.
Follow Useppa Island to southern tip and continue west to cross
the Intercoastal waterway. The Cabbage Key Inn can be found at marker
60. From Cabbage Key, paddle west to Cayo Costa, then follow the
coast north until you see the ranger station and boat dock at Pelican
Bay. If you are camping at Cayo Costa, you can leave your boat at
the ranger station (be sure to take your PFD and paddles). A park
ranger will drive you across the island to the campground and pick
you up the next morning for a trip back to your boat.
An overnight stay at Cayo Costa is an experience that you don't
want to miss. Camping is tightly controlled and is limited to established
campsites on the north end of the island. The park service has an
office on Pelican Bay (mainland side of Lacosta). Camping facilities
include small cabins that sleep 4-6, Yurts (canvas-sided "cabins"),
restrooms, showers, BBQ grills and an area for tent camping. Be
sure to make reservations before your trip and check in with the
park ranger no later than 4:00pm. Reservations for Florida State
Parks are handled by Reserve America at 800-326-3521.
Half of the fun of an overnight trip to Cayo Costa
State Park is in getting there. If you have time before or after
your paddling adventure, be sure to explore the little towns of
Matlacha (Mat-la-shay) and Bokeelia (Bo-keel-ya). Matlacha is an
old Florida fishing community that features quite a number of shops,
restaurants, a kayak eco-tour business and many cottages and cabins
Bokeelia, at the very northern tip of Pine Island,
is definitely the fisherman's dream come true. The town features
several marinas with water taxi service, cruises and fishing charters.
You won't find the fancy restaurants of Sanibel and Captiva here.
Just good home-style cooking and lots of fresh fish. Bokellia is
also known for its subtropical agricultural business where you can
find citrus fruit, mangoes and pineapples.
No trip to Cayo Costa would be complete without
stopping at the world-famous Cabbage Key Inn on Cabbage Key. For
the paddler, this restaurant (and Inn) is about as close to heaven
as you can possibly get. The beer is cold and the food is so good
that it's been said Jimmy Buffett wrote "Cheeseburger in Paradise"
here. Try the cheeseburger and Key Lime pie - you won't be disappointed!
The Inn features unusual wall coverings - U.S. dollars. It's estimated
that over 20,000 signed dollar bills are pinned, stapled and taped
on the walls. When the bills fall off they're donated to charity.
If you're really lucky, you can get overnight reservations at the
Cabbage Key Inn by calling 941-283-2278. Your non-paddling friends
can meet you here by taking a water taxi from Fort Myers, Pine Island
or Captiva Island.
A Cayo Costa morning.
Sunset on the island.
| GPS Location Aid
|Pine Insland Put-In
|Cayo Camp Registration