With nine miles of beautiful beaches and acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks and mangrove swamps, this barrier island park is a Gulf Coast paradise. Cayo Costa is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Visitors may see manatees and pods of dolphins in the waters around the 2,426 acre park, as well as a spectacular assortment of birds. On the island, visitors can swim or snorkel in the surf, enjoy the sun and picnic in the shade. Keep your eyes peeled as you stroll along the beach, especially during the winter months. The nature trails that crisscross the island provide opportunities for hiking and off-road bicycling. Saltwater anglers can fish from their boats or throw a line out into the surf. An amphitheater provides educational programs about the island's ecology and history. For overnight stays, the park offers primitive cabins and tent camping which can be reserved through Reserve America up to 11 months in advance. Captiva Cruises (link is external)offers ferry service to the park from locations in Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. Reservations are strongly recommended.