Lovers Key State Park in Florida is on the west coast of the state, south of Ft Myers. Ft Myers is a lovely small city, and just off its coast, you will find Captiva Island and Sanibel. These are well-known destinations for beachgoers and those who love to collect shells.
South of Ft Myers Beach is Lovers Key State Park, and it is a fun and adventurous park to visit, with plenty of space for relaxing on the beach. I recently spent a day kayaking the mangroves. I rented from Lovers Key Adventures. They also rent everything else you need to enjoy the park.
Kayaking is a popular activity in Lovers Key State Park. There are different options to choose from; you can take a kayaking tour in the estuary or rent a kayak on your own. My visit to the park last October was a spur of the moment decision, so I rented a kayak and set off to explore the mangroves and the estuary on my own.
When you are kayaking in the offseason, you won’t see very many people. I only saw four or five other kayaks during the half-day rental. I saw a lot of birdlife in the mangroves, and the manatees are visible under the waterline. When they come up for a breath, every fifteen or twenty minutes, you can hear it from quite a distance away. Now, this is not an interactive manatee experience like the snorkel adventures in Homosassa Springs and Crystal River in Northern Florida.
In Lovers Key State Park, you absolutely cannot get in the mangrove waters, and you cannot touch the manatees. It is unwise to get in the water in a mangrove in south Florida. I enjoyed the estuary, where I observed dolphins hunting and fish jumping as they tried to get away.
As I turned back to go to the kayak launch, I saw an alligator in the mangroves, swimming nearby. It was hard to judge its size, but I confess my heartbeats kicked up a notch. Perhaps more than a notch! While I watched it swim to shore, it took up a spot near a large tree. Gators are an excellent reason not to swim in mangroves!
Fishing at Lovers Key State Park
Lovers Key Bait and Adventures are located on the bayside and offers live and frozen bait. If you are interested in fishing with a knowledgeable fishing Captain, they can set you up. They also provide gear to fish off your kayak or canoe. Lovers Key Bait and Adventures sells everything you need to get on the water. The Lovers Key Boat ramp is the only Free boat launch in Southwest Florida.
Lovers Key also has a fishing pier, so you can choose whichever fishing style is best for you. The commonly caught fish are trout, redfish, snook, and tarpon.
Lovers Key State Park is very popular with hikers. There are five miles of trails winding through the park, which until recently was unavailable except by boat. The Black Island Trail and Eagle Trail give a unique experience as it offers views into secluded mangroves and estuaries.
You will see maritime hammocks (Maritime hammock is an evergreen hardwood forest growing on stabilized coastal dunes), Jamaica Dogwoods, Strangler Figs, and Cat Claws. Endangered species you might see include Bald Eagles, West Indian Manatees, and, of course, the American Alligator.
Stand Up Paddle Board
Lovers Key Beach is renowned for its beauty, and the Travel Channel rates it the #4 beach in the state! Stand Up Paddle Boarding is very popular, and rentals are available through Lovers Key Adventures. From the beach, visitors can SUP in the estuary, which offers the possibility of viewing wildlife. Birds, Dolphins, and Tarpon are likely to be seen. If you are lucky, maybe a Bald Eagle may fly by! Lovers Key Beach offers the estuary for stand up paddleboarding, and the ocean as well. You can take advantage of doing both!
Relaxing on Lovers Key Beach
Lovers Key Beach, a gorgeous 2.5-mile strip of golden sand, is one of the top beaches in Florida. There are a gazebo, restaurant, and restrooms on the south shore, and two bridges will connect you to the mid beach, which is left natural, with no facilities. The park has a tram to take you there, just ask at Lovers Key Adventures.
Lovers Key Adventures also rents everything you need for a relaxing day on Lovers Key’s south beach, including lounge chairs, umbrellas, and beach lounges. Hurricane Charlie’s has gifts, rentals, food and drinks, and the south beach has the amenities you’ll want to enjoy a relaxing day. I prefer Lovers Key over Ft Myers beach in the city, it doesn’t have all the activity and so makes for a quieter day.
A Southwest Florida Hidden Gem
Lovers Key State Park is a hidden gem in southwest Florida, less known than the Everglades, Sanibel, and Captiva. I highly recommend spending at least one day in the park, and if you do that, you’ll want to return the next day. The original plan for Lovers Key was to build condos, but the land was donated to the state to preserve the endangered wildlife living there. Thank goodness Lovers Key State Park is here for all of us to enjoy!
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Article written by Tam Warner Minton of Travels With Tam!
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