Be a Castaway for a Day on Beautiful Cayo Costa Island

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Southwest Florida for a day, take a trip to Cayo Costa Island State Park. Accessible only by private boat or ferry, this barrier island near Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers guarantees a little space and solitude in a stunning Gulf Coast location. | Beautiful white sand beach on Cayo Costa State Park which is a barrier island only accessible by boat from nearby Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Pine Island and Boca Grande, Florida.

Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

Getting to Cayo Costa Island

Cayo Costa Island lies between North Captiva Island and Boca Grande, at the entrance to Charlotte Harbor.

If you are not fortunate enough to own a boat (or have a willing friend with one!) then all is not lost. Captiva Cruises, the official state park concessionaire offers ferry service for those wanting to visit this gorgeous barrier island! | Scenic narrated cruises to Cayo Costa State Park depart daily from McCarthy's Marina and Southseas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida. Reservations are required.

Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

The ferry drops visitors at the large State Park Dock and after that it’s easy to walk to the nearby beach. Advance bookings are recommended by phoning (239) 472-5100 or you can book online from the official Cayo Costa Ferry website.

The eight-mile journey from Captiva takes about 30 minutes. | Scenic narrated cruises to Cayo Costa State Park are offered daily by Captiva Cruises and depart from McCarthy's Marina and South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island. Reservations are required.

Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

Wildlife and Amenities in Cayo Costa State Park

Once you’ve landed on Cayo Costa Island, you’ll find a nine-mile long beach of pristine white sand just waiting for some footprints. The island has sand dunes, pine forests and oak-palm hammocks along with mangroves, grassy areas, dunes and palms. | Beautiful white sand beach on Cayo Costa State Park on the west coast of Florida - near Fort Myers is only accessible by tour or ferry boat.

Photo courtesy Captiva Cruises

You may see dolphins frolicking in the wake behind the boat, and there will certainly be pelicans and other sea birds flying overhead. The beaches are a turtle nesting area from May to September and nests may be marked with wooden sticks to avoid visitors accidentally disturbing the eggs, which are protected by law.

Things to Do on Cayo Costa Island

There are about six miles of hiking and biking trails for exploring the 2,426-acre Cayo Costa State Park. Bicycles can be rented from the Ranger Station which has an interactive exhibit and sells ice. You can go fishing, shelling, bird watching or relax on the beach and catch the sun’s rays. The safe waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. | Shells on the beach Cayo Costa State Park in Florida. This barrier island is only accessible by boat from nearby Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Pine Island and Boca Grande.

Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

If you want to stay for longer than a day, you can rent a simple cabin with bunk beds and a picnic table, or pitch your own tent at the state park camp site. The site has modern communal toilets and cold showers but no electricity. Cooking your catch has to be done on grills!

One thing you won’t find at Cayo Costa are concessions, snack stands, snorkel equipment rental, fishing tackle, live bait and other amenities that are common on busier beaches.

McCarthy’s Marina on Captiva is the last chance you get to pick up essentials before being “castaway” on Cayo Costa, at least for an hour or two. Best pack a cooler of drinks and a picnic – surviving can be thirsty work!

Written by: Gillian Birch | Author Website

Gillian Birch is a freelance travel writer and, whenever possible between trips, she enjoys life in Florida. As the wife of a Master Mariner, she has traveled extensively and lived in some exotic locations all over the world, including the Far East and the Republic of Panama. Describing herself as having "endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust", she continues to explore Florida and further afield, writing about her experiences with wonderful clarity and attention to detail. With a diploma in Journalism from the BCJ, she has published several travel books and ebooks, all available on Amazon under her name. Formerly the Florida Editor for BellaOnline from 2011-13, Gillian is an active member of the International Travel Writers' Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers' Association, and an enthusiastic guest blogger for Visitor Guides. Learn more about her writing as YourTravelGirl at: and follow her blog around the world at