Cayo Costa, FL gulf coast

Anybody knows the place?

Is the crossing (12 miles) possible to be done by an intermediate paddler on a sea kayak (Impex Assateague)? How are the currents? I am not worried about the distance, but I am not willing to face alone a 12 mile crossing if it is known to be windy and/or with strong currents, I would rather have a buddy for the crossing, but that is not a choice.

What about the camping grounds? Planning to go with family and friends, they would take the ferry, I would much rather paddle.

Thanks for any input.


cayo costa
Not sure where you plan on putting in, but there are numerous options and many are very forgiving for an intermediate paddler. The one i use most is the boat launch at Pineland on Pine Island. There is a free marked kayakand canoe launch just before Pineland marina or you can use the marina ramp. The marina charges but has secure parking if you plan to leave a vehicle. THe crossing is protected by barrier islands and many small mangrove islands. You paddle by Useppa Island (private) and Cabbage Key (a great little bar and restaurant). You have to pay a bit of attention crossing the intercoastal on a busy weekend, but nothing too tough there.

If you are going to the state park campground, you can leave your boat in the back bay and take the same footpath to the campground that the ferry passengers use. If you want to paddle up to the gulf side campground, you will have to brave some stiff currents in Boca Grande Pass to get to the gulf side. Shoot for slack tide if you are not sure of your abilities.

You can also put in at Boca Grande, in which case you only have a very short paddle but would have to cross the pass. Bookelia is another option, but I have not used that put in for many years.

no matter how you get there
you will enjoy a glimpse into the true Florida most tourists never see…we paddled from Cayo over to Cabbage Key for lunch among the dollar bills–you’ll know what i mean when you get there!

the little cabins we stayed in while there I figured were destroyed by the hurricane last year??? and when we went in February we paddled in drysuits and when in camp wore down jackets…there were some folks down from Michigan who thought it would be hot,they were freezing…you can spend much time hiking on the island too…it is a special place, especially knowing that it is protected from development…

Is that Pine Island
Near Weeki Watchi.

Weekeewatchie is way south of there.


Manatees in the river last winter. One surfaced under my kayak and I came close to capsizing.

That is a fabulous clear river.

We went up as far as you are allowed, and then on another day we went out to the gulf and explored some side runs.



OK Found it now
Its near Sanibel Island

In Florida there are TWO Pine Islands
on the gulf coast; the northern one is located at the mouth of the Weeki-Wachee River in Hernando County and the southern one is located at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River west of Ft. Myers in Lee County.

We also have two towns named Pineland but that’s another thread.

good recommendation
from LarryN that is how I get to Cayo Costa too via Pine Island. The crossing is pretty sedate even a beginner can do it but lot’s of powerboats. I did not however, like storing my kayak in the marina with the rest of the boats. We had the unfortunate experience where a group from Sierra dumped their canoes on top of our boats. We could not move them and were not able to kayak that weekend. When I went last was a few years ago and were not able to paddle up to gulf sites, thats an improvement will now try to go again this coming season.

Feral pigs
There was a recent article in the Fort Myers News Press about feral pigs on Cayo Costa becoming very aggressive and two beachgoers were bitten and undergoing rabies shots. You might be able to access the story on line if interested.

THe pigs have been there for years, usually tearing up the beach at night rooting for crabs and coquinas. I can only guess that people feeding them has caused them to lose their fear and start inviting themselve to picnics on the beach.

reminds me
On my first trip there I was out trying to dig my boats out from under all the canoes that had buried my boats the day before. I hear horrible squealing noices and dogs barking. I look out to see a couple of hunters dragging these poor pigs alive while the dogs bit them and throwing them from the top of the dock onto their boat 6’ below while tied up. I was horrified and it really ruined my weekend (A thanksgiving holiday weekend) and other kids that were around to see this barbaric hunt were crying and I bet traumatized.

I asked the rangers why don’t they just shoot the pigs dead instead of torturing them this way. The response was that the state parks do not allow guns so they have to take them out alive. Wouldn’t it be best to close the park for a few weekends a year to hunters and allow them to kill the pigs right then and there?

Thanks for the help