Ultimate Guide to Keewaydin Island

Located between Naples and Marco Island, Florida and part of the pristine Rookery Bay Reserve, Keewaydin Island is an important barrier island that remains a hidden hideaway. Largely undeveloped, the island has miles of soft white sandy beaches and is only accessible by boat. 

The traffic-free island is 8 miles long and ½ mile wide. It has 15 secluded homes and around 50 privately owned lots.

Ultimate Guide to Keewaydin Island, Florida near Naples and Marco Island | Must Do Visitor Guides

Locals and visitors love to escape to Keewaydin Island and enjoy a day on the water, swimming, shelling, birdwatching, dolphin spotting, playing, exploring, and relaxing on the beach. It’s very popular every day of the week but even more so on weekends so plan to arrive early in the day.  

The west (Gulf) side beaches of Keewaydin is perfect for fishing, shelling, and enjoying Florida sunsets. 

Keewaydin Island is also a popular destination for barefoot weddings on the beach, providing a stunning setting and an intimate atmosphere. 

Best Way to Get to Keewaydin Island

If you want to visit Keewaydin Island, there are several options–however you can only get there by boat. 

One of the easiest ways to reach the island is via the Hemingway Water Shuttle. It runs seven times daily year-round and departs from Rose Marina in Marco Island. It’s roughly a 30-minute boat ride. Tickets for a return trip are $44 for adults and $22 for children (2020 prices). 

Hemingway Water Shuttle boat ferry to docked on the beach at Keewaydin Island, Florida. | Must Do Visitor Guides
Photo courtesy Hemingway Water Shuttle

Both the ferry and the island are pet-friendly, so you can bring your dog along too if you choose. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times as the island is a habitat for protected species of wildlife including loggerhead turtles.

You can rent a boat from a local marina in Naples or Marco Island and enjoy a day of sun and sand including a picnic on the island! If you prefer to captain your own boat or jet ski, rentals are available from both Naples and Marco Island. Rent a boat or jet ski from Pure Florida Boat RentalsExtreme Boat Rentals, or Rose Marina

Boats mored at on the shore at Keewaydin Island near Naples and Marco Island, Florida. Photo by Chris L. Smith | Must Do Visitor Guides
Photo credit Chris L. Smith

Join a sightseeing boat trip that includes a stop on Keewaydin Island for shelling and a walk on the beach! There are regular sightseeing boat trips with stops at Keewaydin for exploring and shelling. Hop on a sightseeing cruise with Sweet Liberty Catamaran Sailing CruisesPure FloridaThe Dolphin Explorer, Cool Beans Cruises, Naples Beach Water Sports or Marco Island Water Sports. 

Sightseeing sailboat on shore at the beach on Keewaydin Island, Florida near Naples and Marco Island. Photo by Debi Pittman Wilkey. | Must Do Visitor Guides
Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

The most popular place to anchor is off the isthmus on the southern tip of the island. You can anchor offshore and ride the current, pull up on a sandbar, or come ashore on the east side of the island. 

Keewaydin Island Amenities

Keewaydin Island is a pristine barrier island offering no amenities. When you visit you will need to be sure to bring everything with you including beach chairs, towels, sunscreen, bug spray, beach umbrella, float and water toys, etc. 

Keewaydin Island is serviced by food boats offering concessions between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. most days. You can buy a burger, brat, hot dogs, sandwiches, ice cream, and cold drinks (including adult beverages). That being said, it’s always a good idea to bring your own water so you can stay hydrated since the Florida sun is hot, and there is limited shade on the island. 

There are no lifeguards or bathroom facilities available on the island.

History of Keewaydin Island

In the days when Naples was just being developed by pioneers, an inn called the Keewaydin Club was built on the north side of the island. It operated from 1922 to 1999 and the building is now on the list of National Registry of Historic Places. Wealthy visitors were ferried across Gordon Pass to the private island aboard the Kokomis which can now be seen in the Collier County Museum in Naples. 

The island was also a site for the Keewaydin Camps which started in the 1890s. The island avoided largescale development in the 1950s and 60s when locals petitioned against a bridge and road being built to the island. Without their actions, Keewaydin Island would probably have become an extension to the high-rise resorts on other barrier islands including Marco Island and Fort Myers Beach. 

Today, a slower pace of life abounds on Keewaydin Island which is home to wild boar, bobcat, white tailed deer, and threatened gopher tortoises. It remains a protected nesting place for loggerhead turtles, and a peaceful place to chill out in Southwest Florida

Ultimate Guide to Keewaydin Island, Florida near Naples and Marco Island.  | Must Do Visitor Guides

Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website MustDo.com. Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.