If you’ve driven along the Tamiami Trail north of downtown Naples, you probably driven past the access road and entrance to Clam Pass Beach Park which is next to the Naples Grande Hotel. This delightful beach area in North Naples has 175 parking spaces, giving beach access to visitors and residents alike.
Clam Pass Beach Park covers 35 acres of wildlife preserve and coastal habitat as well as a sandy beach. The beach is reached along a boardwalk that runs for almost ¾ mile. If you don’t want to walk to the beach, there’s an electric tram which transports you, your chairs and equipment to the beach without charge.
Boardwalk and Mangroves at Clam Pass Beach Park
As well as providing beach access, this well-maintained boardwalk is a nature trail for wildlife enthusiasts. It meanders through a forest of red, white and black mangroves which are easy to differentiate by the leaves. Mangroves are one of the few saltwater tolerant plants and are an important defense against erosion by the waves, so they are state protected.
The tallest mangroves are red mangroves with dark red wood beneath a grey bark and broad leaves ending in a blunt point. Black mangroves have slightly smaller elliptical green leaves which are hairy on the underside. The white mangrove is the smallest species with broad leaves that are oval and rounded at both ends.
Wildlife at Clam Pass Beach Park
The boardwalk runs beside the tidal bay which is a breeding ground for all types of marine life, crabs, fish and many types of birds. Sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in this area each summer. Keep your eyes open to spot herons, egrets, bald eagles, osprey and hawks as you walk along.
One natural resident to be aware of is the stingray. These flat creatures with their long barbed tail love to bury themselves in the sand at the edge of the water. They are particularly prolific from early May until the end of October which is “Stingray Season” in southwest Florida. Either wear plastic beach shoes, or shuffle your feet along as you walk to scare stingrays away before you have chance to step right on them.
Lazy River and Beach at Clam Pass
The beach itself has powdery soft white sands that this area around Naples is famous for. The clear turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico are perfect for swimming, sailing or kayaking. As Clam Pass is a river-like opening into the Gulf it creates a natural lazy river which is fun but safe. The water is rarely too deep to stand and the tide will carry you on your float either into the mangrove-edged lagoon, or gently out in to the Gulf which remains shallow for a good distance.
It is well equipped with concession stands who will be happy to provide you with chair rentals, umbrellas and all types of watersports equipment. There is also a beach restaurant and bar providing food and cold drinks.
Guided walks at Clam Pass Beach Park
Guided walks with a volunteer guide are offered by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Just turn up at the tram stop at 9am Monday through Saturday from December to April and join this free nature walk.