We decided we wanted to visit Cayo Costa Florida and booked an overnight yacht charter with Gulf Island Tours. This Florida Gulf "out island" can only be visited by ferry or by a private boat charter. We drove from Naples through Ft. Myers to Charlotte Harbour and boarded the "Reel Keel" at Chadwick Cove Marina, which is located on Manasota Key in Englewood, FL. We were happy and excited as we boarded the yacht. It definitely had all the creature comforts of home!
We cruised on the bow of the yacht for about an hour sunbathing and relaxing and as we kept our eyes peeled for wildlife. Research of the area said we were bound to witness plenty of dolphins and we were delighted our research proved to be correct! We saw SO many, got great pictures, and even witnessed a few jumping and playing in the boat's wake! At the docks, we were greeted by the Cayo Costa State Park rangers riding ATV's. They gave us a lot of helpful island information and even helped us gather some firewood for our camp fire later. What hospitality! I think everyone should plan to visit Cayo Costa Florida, especially if they are in to shell collecting!
By mid afternoon, we were exploring the pristine and gorgeous beaches at Cayo Costa covered in shells of all types. As a shell addict my entire life I spent much of my childhood "bent over" finding the sea’s treasures all over the east coast of the United States as well as in the Caribbean. My collection includes sand dollars, whelks, sea biscuits, conchs, drift wood and rare finds such as Scotch Bonnets. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of shells there at Cayo Costa State Park! A few hours later, with a mesh bag full of shells, it was time to return to the boat to watch the glorious sunset and to have dinner and drinks! It was all wonderful and a few hours after the sun set, we went back to the beach to build our campfire and watch the "moonrise" over the Gulf of Mexico! It was incredible! I give Cayo Costa two thumbs ups. For a beach camping enthusiast, it really has it all: beautiful beach, shells, lagoons, mangroves, bird colonies, dolphins, sunsets. We decided to take the "luxury tour" for this trip since it was our 25 wedding anniversary, but either way you go, Cayo Costa is definitely worth going out of your way to see. We are already planning to visit Cayo Costa FL again in the very near future. Our Captain, Stuart Keel told us to plan a trip right after a storm and we'd find even more shells!
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