Cayo Costa State Park...

Any advise out there on this one particular harbor?

I’ve got a bug to kayak out to this park, and camp a few days in November.

I’m thinking the aproach from the east would be preferable to trying the channel from the north.

Any ideas, experience on where to park the car, what to watch for? Favorite campsite, best fishing tackle?



Cayo Costa is a great destination.
The crossing of Boca Grande Inlet is doable, but your tidal planning and kayaking skills need to be top notch. It’s a much nicer paddle from Pine Island. It’s about 7 miles broken up into three island to island legs. There’s even a mangrove tunnel through Part Island.

Here’s a link to a good trip description:

This is by no means a beginner trip. You have open water crossings and though the water is relatively shallow, it can get rough. November may offer challenging conditions, so keep an eye on the weather. You need to have good rescue skills appropriate to the group your paddling with. That means if you’re paddling solo, your practiced self rescue skills need to be 100%.

With that said, this is one of my favorite Florida trips. I’ll be taking a group over on Thanksgiving weekend.

Caya Costa
It’s a great paddle. Keep the weather channel available, and your eyes peeled as if the wind changes, you can get waves building up quickly and turn the trip into a real challenge. When we did it, trip conditions were perfect (completely flat) and we wondered what the fuss was. Later found guys that had done it and ran into 3’ waves all the way back, so be prepared to wear skirts on the trip.

If you plan to camp at the park that time of year, get your reservations now, as it fills up quickly. Also, call the ranger to see if any of the sites were affected by smoke from the fire they had a while back…80 some acres burned when a camper lost control of his campfire.

We called the Pine Island Boat Ramp office (in Pineland) and were told that we could launch there. On arriving, we were told that their insurance wouldn’t let kayaks launch there. We were sent about 1/2 mile south to launch at a historical monument site with 5-6 parking spots. (North 26 degrees 39’.736 /West 082 degrees 09’319). We had about 30 kayaks launch that day and parking was a mess, but it’s easy to launch from there. Bring a rod- one guy caught several large speckled trout right at the launch.

Had no problem with theft at the parking spot, and the paddling was perfect.

The water is only 2-4’ deep for much of the paddle, other than the Intracoastal channel paddle, so check the tide tables. And watch for boats on the channel…these are very rich waters and the guys driving the big yachts don’t pay much attention to kayaks. And there can be a lot of boat traffic.

If you have time, stop at Cabbage Key…supposedly Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheesburger in Paradise” about the burger. And ask for it rare, or medium, or well done…no matter WHAT you ask for, they only cook it ONE way. You’ll pass by an extremely wealthy enclave of

(mainly) conservative Republicans named Useppa Island

(no kayaks allowed to land there unless you have a invitation from a resident). The private security force takes unkindly to that). Useppa was the launch point for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the museum is supposed to be very interesting.

Let me know when you’re going, stop by my studio in Venice and I’ll give you maps of our trip and more details. I’m at (A stained glass studio).


And the park service was attempting to
kill off all ,the ferral hogs on the island . Good previous info . Make sure you take compass bearings goin an comin . We ussed tthe small free put-in an parkin area . No one bothered my van left there 3 days .Alot o fetch can create some big wave action an there are some races to cross. And there is a ferry . Was a nice trip . Spotted sea trout ! good eats


caya costa
Dear Tjalmy,

wanted to add a couple more things about the trip. The mangrove tunnel on Part Island was wrecked by the last hurricanes in the area so don’t bother with it.

Nigel Foster’s book re kayak trips in S. Fla describes the area well.

If you are into history, do a search on Pirates/ Captiva/Sanibel/Boca Raton/ Pine Island. The area was thick with pirates / hostages / treasure and supposedly the number of successful raids on Spanish treasure ships was partly the reason the Spanish left Florida.

p.s. I’ve got some land just N of Gainesville, and we’re having a trip down the Santa Fe (Poe Springs to Hwy 47) Oct 11th, and the Itchetucknee on the 12th. All are invited so spread the word… See (tours) for details.


for the wonderful info, and suggestions.

Kapp’n Crunch, would you be the TC for the Mosquito Lagoon trip? Read about it on the website, and that’s what inspired me to look into it.

TJBrawley, thanks for the invite to see your shop. Deb and I will definately do so.

Could we join you for the Oct. 11 and 12th paddles?

Thanks again,


oct 11th and 12th
Dear Tjalmy,

I look forward to seeing you on the 11th. I’ll e-mail details to you.