Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers and its surrounding areas have plenty of fun things to do and see. A visit to nearby Lovers Key State Park can be the perfect outing for those who enjoy spending time outdoors and taking in the natural beauty of southwestern Florida.
The area has a long and rich history. For years, it was only accessible by boat, and it wasn’t until 1983 that the state acquired the islands that make up the park. In 1996, the state merged the islands to create what has become Lovers Key State Park, a 712-acre park that lies on Lovers Key and three other barrier islands. The park includes 2 miles of beautiful, sandy white beaches and plenty to do. Read on to discover all that this picturesque park has to offer.
Bike or Walk a Trail
Stretching a total of 5 miles, the Black Island Trail at Lovers Key State Park offers a unique, private view of the park’s inlets. You’ll find plenty of wildlife to enjoy gazing at along the two long loops. Before the state took the islands, it was slated for development, and there were plans to turn it into a residential neighborhood. Instead, it became a refuge for all kinds of wildlife, including West Indian manatees, bald eagles, woodpeckers, owls, warblers, bottlenose dolphins, alligators, and roseate spoonbills, just to name a few.
It’s also the perfect trail for birdwatchers, with many different species all vying for the mollusks and crustaceans that nest in the shallow water. Mountain bikers also use the trail for biking, and it starts off with small hills, perfect for bikers looking for more of a challenge, and slowly transitions to grassy trails and white sand. Several shortcuts are also available for those that want to experience a unique hike each time.
For a shorter, more lightly trafficked loop, the 2.6-mile Eagle Trail cuts right through the estuary between Black Island’s trails, where you can see a rich ecosystem containing manatees, marsh rabbits, and a variety of colorful wildlife. You can also enjoy many different types of plants native to southwestern Florida, including Jamaica dogwoods, cabbage palm trees, strangler figs, buttonwoods, catclaws, and seagrapes. Bikers and hikers both share the trail, and bikes are also available for rent at the park’s gift shop if you didn’t bring one of your own.
Enjoy the Pristine Sandy Beaches
Lovers Key State Park has over 2 miles of stunning sugar-sand beaches right on the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Fort Myers Beach. The beach is perfect for a wide variety of coastal fun. The sandy shores make a great picnic location, and you can relax as you enjoy the sound of the lapping waves and the salty gulf breeze.
When the weather is warm, you can go for a swim in the crystal-clear water or simply enjoy the feel of the rolling waves. Be sure to bring a snorkel to see myriad unique sea life, including fish, coral, and pretty shells. In the cooler months, you can go for a walk along the shore and look for mystical shells and strange items that may have washed up during a storm. Be on the lookout for dolphins playing together and hunting for fish near the shoreline. On the park’s bayside, you can use a cast net to fish.
Not only is Lovers Key State Park perfect for beach lovers, but it’s also a fishing paradise. The park even has a bait shop that sits right next to the boat ramp leading out into the waters of Estero Bay, fully stocked with just about everything you could want for your fishing adventure. In addition to fishing rods and cast nets, the shop sells bait buckets, hooks, and lures so you can find just what you need to catch your dinner.
Catching mullet in the bay is especially popular, and you can also catch trout, tarpon, redfish, and snook. After hours, the park permits visitors to fish for sharks for a total of one hour from sunset until sunrise. If you don’t feel like casting out from the shore during the day, you can rent a canoe or a kayak from park staff and explore the waters surrounding the area. You can also choose to paddle out to nearby Mound Key, another state park that features winding, peaceful wildlife trails and plenty of fishing opportunities.
Fishing workshops may also be available for visitors who haven’t fished before or don’t have a lot of experience. Be sure to have a valid fishing license before you decide to go fishing and read up on the applicable regulations before casting your line.
Take a Tour
Lovers Key Adventures & Events offers a wide variety of programs and tours so you can enjoy the park even more and appease your more adventurous side. Guided kayak and stand-up paddleboard tours are available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Reservations must be booked 24 hours in advance and require a minimum of three people. You’ll get to navigate the 2.5-mile estuary and enjoy the quiet tranquility of the park and its natural beauty. As you row through the winding waterway, you might get the chance to meet a friendly manatee and glimpse a playful dolphin or two.
During your tour, your adventure guide will point out additional wildlife native to the region and wow you with stories of buried treasure and the pirate that gave Black Island its name. There are a number of different tours available, and each has its own fun twist. Besides the standard estuary tour, Lovers Key Adventures offers a special sunset tour on Friday and Saturday nights where you can take in the beauty of the setting sun on the water. It also offers a full moon tour twice a month that sets off just before sunset.
Whether you love fishing, hiking, or sun tanning on beautiful beaches, you can find something fun to do at Lovers Key State Park. Need help getting there? Head over to our dealership at Fort Myers Mitsubishi to see our extensive inventory of new cars, SUVs, and crossovers. Our friendly team can help you take home the Mitsubishi you’ve always wanted. You can get in touch with us today by filling out our contact form or giving us a call at 239-356-6862.