One of the most popular state parks in all of Florida lies just a few minutes away from Fort Myers Beach. Just across Big Carlos Pass Bridge, you’ll find yourself on Black Island, one of the islands of Lovers Key State Park.
Composed of four islands, Black Island, Lovers Key, Inner Key and Long Key, this 1,616-acre state park boasts a 2-mile long remote and solitary beach, 5 miles of multi-use trails, a boat launch, picnic areas and a boardwalk tram to carry you and your beach gear from the parking lot to the beach.
A haven for wildlife, the park is home to manatees, bald eagles, dolphins, nesting shorebirds and roseate spoonbills. A park concession offers food and drink plus kayak tours, and bicycle, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, beach chair and umbrella rentals. Ranger programs are offered regularly such as guided walks, nature talks and birding education.
Legend has it that Black Island is named for the pirate Black Augustus, who, after escaping from authorities, made this island his home for the rest of his life. During the first half of the 20th century, fish camps were located on Black Island. Once the Big Carlos Pass bridge was built in 1965, the four barrier islands were marked for development and dredging altered them before the plans were abandoned. In 1983 the state acquired the islands and in 1996 merged with the adjacent Carl E. Johnson County Park to become Lovers Key Carl. E. Johnson State Park.
Lovers Key State Park is open from 8 am to sundown every day of the year. Park admission fees are $8/vehicle (2-8 people/vehicle); $4/single occupant vehicle and motorcycles and $2 pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers.
Friends of Lovers Key is a state sanctioned Citizen Support Organization for the park. Members assist in maintenance of the Park’s native plant nursery, shorebird nesting protection and the purchase of equipment for the park. They are working toward the development of an Environmental Education Center. Learn more at www.friendsofloverskey.org
Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach. 239-463-4588. FloridastateParks.org/loverskey For park rentals call 239-765-7788.