Lover's Key State Park Beaches

Lover's Key is a small group of mangrove islands located in Lee County between Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, and Bonita Beach. It's right on the Gulf of Mexico. The islands are collectively known as Lover's Key State Park (formerly Carl E. Johnson Park).

Hurricane Charley's Hideaway. Gifts, food, beverages, rentals. Lover's Key beach.

Hurricane Charley's Hideaway is pretty far down the beach and is run by  an independent vendor. It offers rentals and food and beverages. It looks empty in the photo because I was visiting late on a summer weekday right before a big thunderstorm hit. Most people had cleared off the beach.

Inland backwaters full of fish, birds, and marine life, separate the islands from each other. Boats with motors are not allowed within the Park, but motorboats are allowed in the Gulf and Bay waters surrounding the Park, and there is a boat ramp within the park. This is to protect the abundant wildlife, which includes manatees, dolphins, various herons and roseate spoonbills, ospreys, bald eagles, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, snook, mullet, rays, and a large variety of shellfish.

There is a snack bar in the park and bicycle, canoe, and kayak rentals are available. The park has all kinds of interesting nature tours available. To make tour reservations or to find out more about the facilities available at the Park visit Lover's Key State Park Official Home Page .

Shells on Lover's Key beach.

There are plenty of shells on Lover's Key beach, even during the summer months.

Lover's Key has nearly a million visitors every year, but despite its popularity, if you go on a weekday it is easy to find a quiet beach to enjoy. Weekends bring lots more people and boats. The entrance fee to the Park is $5 per car with up to 8 people, or $3 for a car with a single occupant. After a short drive you will find a paved parking area near the food and rental concession. You can either walk to the beach by traversing a boardwalk and trail (about a quarter-mile) or you can take the tram. The tram is a slightly bumpy ride, but is much quicker. If you have a lot of beach gear, take the tram. There are actually two trails to the beach, one is more than twice as long as the other, but leads to a quieter beach.

Lover's Key beach looking north.

Lover's Key beach. You can see the wedding gazebo on the beach. The tall buildings in the distance are actually condominiums and resorts on south Estero Island (Fort Myers Beach).

Lover's Key beach is renourished periodically, so the beach is fairly wide. The water is quite calm and shallow and the beach is popular with picnickers and fishermen and kids and sunbathers and families.

There is also a gazebo on the beach with picnic tables and there are restrooms down on the beach. The gazebo is frequently used for beach weddings and is outfitted with that in mind.

Lover's Key beach gazebo, tram station and restrooms on the beach.

This is where the tram drops you off if you ride the tram from the parking area to the beach. You can see the gazebo at left. The tram station and tram are in the center, and the elevated restrooms are at right. The restrooms have a ramp for the mobility challenged.

Because Lover's Key is a state park, there are no homes or other buildings on the beach, just lots of mangrove trees and other coastal vegetation.. The park is open every day of the year. The gates open at 8am and close shortly after sunset. This park offers a nice change from the crowds and the parking nightmare of Ft. Myers Beach. I like it because there is so much nature here and its not hard to find a quiet spot during the week.

Beachhunter riding the Lover's Key tram out to the beach.

Here I am riding the tram out to the beach. Boy was it hot that day!

Lover's Key tram station, beach-side.

Here's the tram waiting for passengers to board for the ride back to the parking area.

Lover's Key beach and dunes.

As you can see from the above photo, I had the beach almost all to myself on a summer weekday.

Snack bar and rental shop in the interior portion of Lover's Key.

Here's the snack bar, gift shop and rental vendor that you see when you first park your car at Lover's Key State Park.

Lover's Key beach on Big Carlos Pass.

The beach above is on the northern boundary of the park directly on Big Carlos Pass. It is accessed most easily from the north park entrance gate, pictured below. It has picnic tables and portable toilets.

North Park entrance at Lover's Key State Park.

The north park entrance is especially popular with fishermen.

Copyright: David McRee,