Lovers Key State Park – Taking the Love for the Beach to a Higher Realm...
Are you ready for a different type of Florida beach experience?
In between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach in Southwest Florida lies 1,600 acres of pure bliss spread out over four barrier islands. Here you will find shockingly white beach sand being caressed by ice blue waves, and miles of trails through a lush maritime environment.
Lover’s Key State Park is just north of Bonita Beach and comprised of Black Island, Inner Key, Long Key and of course Lover’s Key. Named for its former seclusion which attracted lovers to the sandy shores, all of the islands are now easily accessible and overflowing in delights both for lovers and families.
A Brief History of Lover’s Key State Park Prior to 1965, the islands that make up Lover’s Key State Park could only be reached by boat. This solitary, sensational environment is what led to the beach island being named Lovers Island, as only lovers would make that type of effort to reach a beach. Black Island on the other hand is named for a pirate- Black Augustus- who is believed to have made the island his home after escaping from law enforcement.
Early development of the islands during the ‘70’s was a failure, as the work involved damaged the fragile environment. Man-made canals were dredged on Black Island with plans of building a resort area. This construction was abandoned in 1983, when the state of Florida acquired the islands and then turned it into a state park in 1996.
Today great care is taken in helping preserve the islands and its natural habitat by bringing in sand to help fight erosion and using native vegetation to hold it in place. The end result is a multiple island paradise where activities and adventures abound for people of all ages to revel in.
Park Attractions and Activities
Thanks to the unique location and access to 2 different bodies of water, Lover’s Key State Park boasts an array of activities for those who are seeking a quiet holiday or for thrill seekers who relish fun in the sun.
• The Beach – Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico Lovers Key is a two and half mile stretch of sandy white shore. With three distinct areas to explore, there is a sandy spot for everyone to set up their umbrella. The south end of the beach is set up for families in mind, offering a free tram to the shore area which has a spot for picnics and a lovely gazebo. If you prefer solitude when you sunbathe, you can find it by taking a quick walk over two bridges to the beaches mid section. There are no facilities here, allowing visitors to bask in the glory of the shore the way nature intended. Experience a whole different beach on the north side, which is accessible if you take the north honor gate at Big Carlos Pass. Swimming is allowed in the water of each of the beaches, but keep your eyes peeled for a passing dolphin. Whatever your beach day fantasy is, it will be fulfilled at Lovers Key. • Boating – There are boating opportunities in the Gulf and Estero Bay as well as through the man-made channels of Black Island. The park has a boat ramp for motor boats, but you can also enjoy the serenity of a paddle through the waters with a canoe or kayak. Both of these are available for rent through the parks concessionaire and will give you an up close and personal view of the island’s exterior. • Fishing – Boats are not only used recreationally. Fishing is very popular, with snook, tarpon, trout and redfish being sought after seasonally. For those who don’t want to get out on the water cast fishing and net fishing can be done from the shore. Mullet is the popular fish caught here, with bait being sold at the concessionaire to improve your luck at bringing home dinner. • Hiking – There are miles of nature trails to explore, both on the beach and inland. Black Island has a 2.5 mile trail for adventure seekers that can be traversed on foot or by bike. You can bring your own bicycle or rent one from the concessionary. • Playgrounds – On the bayside of the park is a large recreation area on 4 acres. Here you’ll find two playgrounds, grills to cook out on, nine separate pavilions, a large field for playing and a volleyball court. There are also picnic areas scattered through out the park, many of which have grills nearby if you want to picnic in privacy.
Lovers Key State Park has begun a treasure hunt of sorts on the islands. With the help of a free app on your iPhone, you have to solve riddles and figure out coordinates to find different caches scattered through out the park. The Geo-caching app has locations to play in all over the world, adding thrill to any of your vacation destinations.
Bring Your Binoculars
Lovers Key is overflowing in all types of wildlife, both in the sea and on the shore. Don’t be surprised to spot dolphins and manatees frolicking in the waters just off of the coast. The Gulf of Mexico and the Bay are abundant in maritime life both big and small. Bird viewing enthusiasts are intrigued by the Bald Eagle and Osprey nests hidden up in the trees and flock to the islands to catch a rare glimpse. There have been over 40 different bird species recorded at the park, with 17 of them being on the designated species list.
Food and Drink
Picnicking is by bar the best way to make the most of your day at the park, but you will find a number of concession stands that sell snack foods, drinks and ice cream.
Getting to Lovers Key
You no longer need a boat and paddle to enjoy this wondrous retreat. The park entrance is on Estero Blvd in Fort Myers Beach, just ten miles west after exiting at 116 off of I-75. You can make a break for the beach all over the state of Florida, but none compare to the diverse and inviting atmosphere that Lovers Key has to offer. Whether you are in the mood for a solitary stare into blue eternity, or a family day that offers exciting activities for every one, Lovers Key State Park has what’s on your mind.