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Cayo Costa State Park in Florida is a proper beach paradise, not the table service, gentrified, beach huts of Canún, but nine miles of untouched beaches that we can explore here in the park. As a result, it’s a safe haven for all those who want to have beach campfires to gather round and share songs and tall tales.

Considering how hot it is in Florida, most people chose to camp in Cayo Costa Park, which is totally allowed for the small fee they charge on top of your entry fee.

However, as the state park is covered by rangers who work for the state, simply camping where you fall isn’t the best idea. There are often designated camping spots you can pre-book beforehand, so you can camp safely and with nearby amenities.

To find the best camping spots that are recommended by others and have everything you need, simply read our recommendations below. Find out more about the Cayo Costa State Park and where you camp below!

Happy Camping!

Things To Note About Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa is an island, if you don’t have a boat yourself, you should make sure that you have booked or reserved a ferry to the island. The ride isn’t too expensive, but you do need to reserve your spot on the boat.

There are five locations you can grab the ferry from on the mainland: Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, or Captiva Island.

From Barrier Island dock, where you arrive, you can grab a tram that shuttles happy campers and sun-exhausted tourists to and from the main campground. This operates between 9am and 4pm and is really helpful.

For cleaning all the sand off of you, don’t fear, there are portable water spots, toilets, and showers available on the campsite, which is part of the draw to pay for your spots, so you can access these amenities.

Remember to bring stuff to sit on, while the beach is great you might want to be off the ground as the island is pretty wild and there can be bugs and other creepy crawlies to beware of.

For all your safety and camping questions, Rangers are located across the park during the day. One thing they might let you know about is not to affix any camping gear to vegetation.

Cayo Costa Campground

Things To Note About Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa is a pretty empty island, so there is only one large campsite where you can reserve spots for you and your friends to hang out beach-style.

There are around 30 camping sites on the island, there can be cabins too, but these are occasionally destroyed by the winds during out of season weather, so they may or may not be rebuilt and available, ring the state park to find out.

There are loads of amenities like showers and toilets as well as fresh running water, and places to cook food on the grill.

That’s pretty much it when it comes to hospitality though, they like to keep the island rugged and pretty untouched, so while there is lots to do on the island, you should sort out your own hospitality, food, and beds.

You can’t really camp on the beach without a reservation, the campground is uniquely kept away from the beach and wind by vegetation.

Sleeping on the beach without a reservation would be dangerous and just downright annoying due to coastal winds which can certainly keep you up all night.

You might also want to stock up on food. While there is a gift shop there is only really generic snacks here, and the camp store is also limited for food. The camp store does have stuff like firewood and ice though, so just make food the priority.

In terms of making your food, none of the campsites on the islands have electricity, but with each camp spot that you pay for you should get a little picnic table to rest your feet, but they also have fire pits in the ground for all your cooking needs. In terms of campfires, they are totally allowed, just be responsible.

While the campground seems bare, they like to keep it this way. Some of the things you will see are ospreys, perhaps a dolphin playing in the water just near the campground, finding conch shells on the beach, or views of the aquatic creatures playing in the shallow surf.

If you want to enjoy the natural beauty of the island, there really is no better way to experience this than at the campgrounds, who knows who you could meet here, or you can just shelter up alone and enjoy the solitude the island brings.

Trails At Costa Cayo State Park

Trails At Costa Cayo State Park

One of the highlights of the island is being able to walk the nine miles of wild beach that often draw people to the island. You can totally bring your bike too and bike around the specifically labeled bike paths, or just walk the hiking paths.

Cayo Costa Loop Trail

Cayo Costa Loop Trail

This trail takes you basically around the nearby beaches in a loop and is a great way to sample the island’s flora and fauna at your own pace for a lazy wander or with family.

The length is only 4 km which isn’t too hard, and the path has around 3 m elevation gain. This is arguably the easiest trail to follow on the island, and only takes about 45 minutes.

Quarantine Docks Loop Trail

Quarantine Docks Loop Trail

At around 14 km, this is a much more troublesome route, but does have some pretty cool views and is ideal for those who want to test themselves a little and really explore. The trail pretty much covers the whole island, and is a loop that goes round much of the coast.

As it is a coastal walk, it’s ideal for those who like beaches and taking their time. It’s the perfect afternoon activity, so you can come back to some beach barbecued food if you have worked up an appetite.

The ‘quarantine’ the title of the loop refers to is actually from a military quarantine station that operated on the island for a time, on the island’s North End. It was used to house immigrants entering the country through the Boca Grande pass.

Those who passed through Boca Grande had to stop here on the island, so they could be tested for malaria, yellow fever, and other diseases they may pass onto those who inhabit the mainland.

The Cemetery Trail

The Cemetery Trail

It may interest some that the island is home to a cemetery, probably one of the most remote cemeteries in the world. This is one of many inland trails that are really enjoyed by those who visit the island.

Here you can find the buried harbor pilot, Captain Peter Nelson. He died in 1919 and is buried here with a grave that has this inscription on it: After Life’s Fitful Fever He Sleep Well’.

Something about this quote rings true for the island, and it’s why many enjoy the area. In this cemetery you will also find the pioneer cemetery.

It’s long been abandoned and, of course, there are many who think it’s abandoned. If you want to go up there at night, you’ll be in for all kinds of spooky treats.

The pioneer cemetery houses many of those original swashbucklers and explorers who first made it to the island long ago. Cayo Costa does have a checkered past that you can explore somewhat in the cemetery.

The island used to be home to all sorts of pirates, outlaws, smugglers, and sea-faring criminals. As it was hard to reach without nautical skills and a crew, it was often a getaway for many criminals of the high seas.

Many rangers can recount the Island’s unique history, and it tells us of Florida in the past, before Ponce de Leon even named it Florida.

Final Thoughts

Cayo Costa is one of those islands that is very bare and desolate. The rangers of this state park like to keep it isolated and underdeveloped in order to allow nature to thrive, but also so that people can come here to get away from it all. The island is the perfect place to be isolated and sit on a beach when no one is around.

Yet, the island is also a really cool and great place to sample some American History, the island was originally home to pirates as well as a military quarantine point. If you want to explore parts of American history that are a little less known, then this island can be a perfect getaway.

Beyond this, there are loads of trails on the coast of the island that can showcase its sandy beaches and brown pelicans, or you can go inland and explore the hiking trails that take you into the island’s vegetation and coveted history.

Camping here is basically your only option, but really surmises the whole experience for you as you camp on the beach like a stranded pirate.

Discover How To Use The Power of Authority Marketing To Make You Money While You Adventure!

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