Cayo Costa State Park, Boca Grande

Must see · State Park · Nature / Park
Cayo Costa State Park is a Florida State Park on Cayo Costa (formerly known as La Costa Island (Padilla Rancho), which is directly south of Boca Grande (Gasparilla Island), 12mi west of Cape Coral and just north of North Captiva Island. The park is accessible only by charter boat (with or without captain), private boat, ferry or helicopter. Exploration of the New World by Spaniards brought traders to the west coast of Florida to barter with the Indians as early as the 17th century. In their wake came men who started fish ranches on the out islands like Cayo Costa before Florida was opened to American settlers. In the 1870s, Tervio Padilla, a wealthy merchant from the Canary Islands, came to Key West and established trade with natives and “ranchos” that extended northward to Charlotte Harbor. His ships often made port at Cayo Costa at the entrance to the harbor. Enchanted by the tropical island, he eventually decided to settle there. Padilla prospered until the outbreak of the Spanish–American War when his fleet was burned and scuttled. He then turned to another means of livelihood – fishing. When the government claimed his land he was disinclined to set up another ranch so moved with his wife further down the island and as before, simply homesteaded. For many years Charlotte Harbor locals referred to the Island as "Padilla Rancho" or Padilla Ranch although Mr. Padilla only occupied one part of the Island at a time. Most Padilla descendants now reside in nearby Bokeelia or Boca Grande.
Cayo Costa Island is one of a chain of barrier islands that shelter Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. The park contains nine miles (14 km) of soft white sandy beaches and 2506acre of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, and mangrove swamps.
By using our Boca Grande travel route planning tool, you can arrange your visit to Cayo Costa State Park and other attractions in Boca Grande.
Improve this listing »
Create an itinerary including Cayo Costa State Park
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

Cayo Costa State Park reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
407 reviews
  • What an awesome day at the beach! The sand bar is a MUST with waves crashing in on both sides and the sand dollar hunting. The tram to the beach was super easy. Wish would,d could have had another...  more »
  • If you are in Captiva and a very good swimmer you are almost here. If you want to look for shells this will seem like paradise. The beach is super, you can fish, swim, hike.  more »
  • Cayo Costa State Park is officially sea shelling insanity. If you want to collect some amazing shells hop on a boat out here from Captiva (we took Captiva Cruises - excellent). When you get to the.....  more »
  • It was beautiful weather so we were with quite the crowd (in Cayo Costa off-season terms). Big dropoff in the water, but really neat to see manatee and dolphin so close to shore. Very nice shower and bathroom facilities.
  • This comment is related to the camping site The area is very beautiful, but bugs simply don`t allow to take any advantage of the State Park. Staying overnight is a challenge due to the bugs. We had to get an early boat to get out of there I wouldn't recommend to go there to stay over. Maybe it is worth in winter Beach is very nice and natural, and no bugs will bother you
  • This review is specifically relating to camping in the cabins. The ranger staff is really nice, and the island is beautiful. The beach is amazing with tons of room, few people. Things I wish I had known in advance: (1) the bugs are BAD! Not on the beach, but near the cabins and bathrooms they’re aggressive. All. Day. Bring bug spray with lots of deet and you’ll be okay. (Bring one more can than you think you’ll need because every time you shower or go in the Gulf, you’ll have to reapply. Skin and clothes) (2) the screened in porch of our cabin had lots of large holes in it. We plugged them with the massive amount of plastic shopping bags we had, but duct tape would have been more ideal (3) the grill is hard to get going. Bring lighter fluid/butane. other than those minor annoyances, that can easily be mitigated, it was a wonderful experience. If you’re looking for peace and quiet and the primal camping feel, this is it!!!
  • One of the very best state parks in Florida!Beautiful beaches, walking and biking trails, friendly rangers. Be aware that accommodations and campsites are very near to primitive and there are no food provisions available except ice and an extremely small store. Only accessible by boat or paid ferry. If you love the outdoors, you would love this park!
  • Stunning nature, gorgeous beach, excellent service. The docks are well maintained, easy to find, and easy to tie to. Get there early, as it gets busy! The shuttle service was superb, and runs on the hour. Lots of porpoises, osprey, and terns around. I can't recommend this place enough!

Plan your trip to Boca Grande

  • Get a personalized trip
    A complete day by day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it
    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.