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It’s my favorite time of year – oh wait that’s summer. Okay my favorite time of the non-summer part of the year – time for our annual family trip to Southwest Florida! Long time readers know that’s my happy place. I mean there are so many great things to do in Naples, fun stuff in Ft. Myers and so many unique things to do in Southwest Florida. But do you know what I really love about this area – the beaches. Some of the best in the world, and right here in the good ol’ USA. Which is why as I start packing my swimsuit and sunscreen, I am so excited to give you this list of the best beaches in Naples Florida.
The Best Beaches in Naples Florida
Where is Naples Florida?
Naples, Florida is located in the southwest part of the state. A city right on the Gulf of Mexico, it boasts many miles of beautiful coastline. The average January water temperature in Naples is around 66 degrees – making it a year-round destination for beach go-ers.
What are the beaches like in Naples Florida?
Naples, Florida is on the Gulf of Mexico, which is very beautiful and calm. The beaches in this area are filled with soft sand, and in places, beautiful shells. In fact, people travel to this area just to go shelling! Yes, that a thing!
The beaches of Naples Florida are the perfect anytime beach. Since the west coast of Florida is the only place on the East Coast of the United States to see an over water sunset, beaches in this area can be crowded literally from sunrise to sunset. There are also so many great waterfront dining spots in Naples, Florida so be sure to make a reservation to eat beachside while in town.
Best Beaches in Bonita Springs
Lover’s Key State Park
Lover’s Key is a state park on a barrier island. Technically we have been to Lover’s Key a ton of times, as my parents old condo in Pelican Sound had a free pontoon shuttle to a very remote part of this park. You could hike over to the very north end of the park, its isolated and beautiful but there are no amenities at this end.
If you drive up to Lover’s Key State Park, you can park and enjoy all the many park amenities. In addition to the beach, there are facilities for weddings, biking, boating, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and water rentals.
On our first visit, we arrived after lunch time and it took a LONG time to get into the parking lot. The car line was very long, so I would definitely suggest going early in the day to secure your spot along this beautiful two mile stretch of beach.
I visited recently in the middle of the week and it was a breeze to get in and get a parking spot in the first field. But I had forgotten that to get to the south end, you have to take a tram ride (or walk half a mile with all your beach gear). The tram runs every 20 minutes, and its a nice little ride, just plan extra time for that!
Bonita Beach Park
This is a small beach right next to Doc’s Beach house. There is a TINY parking lot with metered parking. I had visited on afternoon in June and the lot was full (we went to Barefoot instead) but the other morning gave it a try and got a spot.
I like that this beach has a very short walk from the parking lot to the beach. There are also bathrooms, showers and tons of little gazebos where you can have a picnic. My kids did not like that this beach is VERY SHELLY. Fun for collecting shells, but a little annoying when you had to walk into the water.
Bonita Beach Park is located at the end of Bonita Beach road, the parking lot is right when the road bends to head north.
WHERE TO STAY IN BONITA SPRINGS:
Best Beaches in North Naples
Barefoot Beach is one of our go-to beaches for many reasons. This beach can be a little tricky to find. Drive west on Bonita Beach Road. After you pass Coconut Jack’s make a left on Barefoot Beach Blvd. This looks like a private road – which technically it is – but it is open to the public for those accessing the beach.
In addition to loving this beach, I so love driving through this community and seeing all the beautiful homes!
This beach is a Collier County park, so there is an $8 parking fee. This beach has a parking lot, restrooms and a concession stand.
The walk from the car to the beach is pretty short, there are boardwalks to traverse (look for awesome birds and turtles as you pass by) and the water is very calm. Great beach for shelling, my kids always amass quite a collection here at Barefoot Beach!
One unique feature to this park is the Nature Learning Center – a little hut with natural history exhibits. My kids will usually spend about a half an hour looking around at the exhibits and videos, and the docents are usually quick to engage the kids with fun information and/or a craft!
WHERE TO EAT AFTER A DAY AT BAREFOOT BEACH: DOCS’S BEACH HOUSE
Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park
Just south of Barefoot Beach is Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park. You can access the beach by heading west on Immokalee Road. This is a Florida state park and the admission to park is $6.
Inside the park you will have the choice of several parking lots – both on the gulf side and bay side (perfect place to launch your boat).
Along this one mile stretch of barrier island, you will find great places to swim, sunbathe, look for shells and picnic. There are restrooms as well.
We visited here recently and I enjoyed the beach and the water was so calm! It’s also a super short walk from the car to the beach (I am a fan of that!), but on the morning we visited, there were alot of flies near us when we were sitting in our chairs. They weren’t biting or anything but just so annoying…
For many reasons, this my favorite Naples beach, and honestly one of my favorite beaches I’ve ever been to! For me, it checks all the boxes – calm water, beautiful sand, easy parking, bathrooms and water sports! There is also a small concession stand that sells ice cream and drinks. We usually bring our own picnic lunch.
Vanderbilt Beach is the beach at the end of Vanderbilt Beach Road. Access to the beach is technically free, but parking in the adjacent parking garage will cost $8 per car. The parking garage (located on Vanderbilt Beach Road) is three stories, but on holiday or weekends can fill up. Street parking in the area is scarce.
In addition to sitting on the sand and swimming in the water, there are several options here for those that enjoy water sports. Walk south towards the Ritz Carlton Naples (one of the best resorts in Naples Florida) and you will see a pop-up tent where you can rent jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards as well as go parasailing and take banana boat rides.
We always rent a jet ski for a ½ an hour – both kids can ride with me and cruising around the Gulf of Mexico is always a highlight of our Naples trip!
If you walk north towards the Vanderbilt Beach Resort, you can find a guy renting Stand Up paddleboards and even motorized paddle boards. Last year he let me take one out for a try and it was pretty cool!
Vanderbilt Beach is a really popular place to go watch a Naples sunset. You can bring your own beach blanket and picnic or take it in from one of the restaurants.
UPDATE: I was at Vanderbilt Beach recently and saw another family walk over to the Gumbo Limbo bar at the Ritz and come back with frozen drinks to enjoy on the beach! I had no idea you could do that…
POPULAR SUNSET VIEWING SPOTS AT VANDERBILT BEACH:
The Gumbo Limbo Bar at the Ritz Carlton
BEST HOTELS ON VANDERBILT BEACH:
HEADING TO THE BEACH? CHECK OUT MY BEACH VACATION PACKING LIST
Best Beaches in Naples Florida
Clam Pass Park
Clam Pass Park is another Collier County Beach in North Naples. You can find it by going west on Seagate Drive to the parking area. Be careful though, on our recent visit, my trusted google maps could not find the parking lot – she kept telling me to turn into one of the private drives off Gulf Shore Blvd – she seemed to think there was a road parallel that I could access. If you have trouble, just set your GPS for the Naples Grande Beach Resort, and you will for sure find it.
Parking in the lot comes with an $8 fee. From the parking lot to the beach it’s an ¾ mile walk along the boardwalk OR there is a free tram to the beach. The boardwalk takes you through a beautiful mangrove forest – where you can see all sorts of birds and wildlife.
On our recent visit, my parents did not realize how far the beach was from the lot, so they opted to walk. It was definitely a long way if you are carrying all your beach stuff. We waited for the tram, which at 10am had a long line and took a few passes for us to get on. I was pretty annoyed waiting 25 minutes to get down to the beach, but the wait was worth it!
The beach itself is that for the Naples Grande Beach resort, so it’s well maintained. At Clam Pass you can rent chairs, umbrellas and there is a concession stand with restrooms. The sand is soft and beautiful! There are also a ton of shells here, so a great place for the kids to bring a bucket to collect treasures!
BEST HOTEL NEAR CLAM PASS PARK: NAPLES GRANDE BEACH RESORT
Located in North Naples (1301 Gulfshore Boulevard) this is an amazing beachfront park. In addition to beach amenities, there are lots of recreational facilities at Lowdermilk Park like volleyball courts, playgrounds and two gazebos for rent.
Best Beaches near the city of Naples
Naples is a small city, with a downtown and tall buildings. Downtown Naples has some great shopping on Fifth Avenue South, and some great restaurants as well. In this area, you can access the beach in several places.
Naples Pier/Naples Beach
The Pier is located at the West End of 12th Avenue South. The pier has restrooms and concession stands and is an iconic Naples location!
Recommended Hotels in Naples proper:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples/Downtown – This hotel is at the perfect price point AND the perfect location for exploring the downtown Naples area! A short walk to the shops and restaurants of Fifth Avenue, and a quick ride to the Gulf! I stayed here in July 2020 and you can read all about our mother/daughter getaway to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples Downtown!
Best Beaches South of Naples
Last year I read an article by Corey from fifi + hop about an island near Naples only accessible by boat – I had never heard of this place and decided I needed to investigate it for myself! And yes, Keewaydin is an uninhabited island that you can visit by boat!
In the summer of 2020, we finally took a day trip to Keewaydin Island – and friends, it did NOT disappoint! If you don’t have your own boat, you can either rent one to drive yourself, or book a ticket on the Hemingway Water Taxi. The beaches are so worth the trip!
Best Beaches on Marco Island
Marco Island is a funky little barrier island off the south coast of Naples, Florida. It is accessible by a vehicular bridge. Marco Island boasts beautiful resorts, vacation rentals and secluded beaches. Marco is also a boaters paradise.
You can take a day trip to Marco Island, or plan a longer visit.
Tigertail is located on a salt water lagoon – so not right on the ocean. It was more like a pond with a sandy beach. Very calm water and perfect for taking out a paddleboat (which little man and I did) or a kayak or paddleboard.
We like the ocean, with big waves and beautiful expansive water views, so we were a little disappointed in this beach, but I can see why this spot is highly recommended for those with small children. You can cross the lagoon (through the water with all your gear) to get to the beach. Apparently, you can walk all the way around to the south as well. Tigertail beach is located at 490 Hernando Drive in Marco Island.
South Marco Island
Marco Island makes a great vacation destination, but if a longer stay here isn’t in the cards, a day trip to Marco is awesome as well. If you are interested in visiting a gulf beach, head to the south end of the island for beach access. The parking lot and restroom facilities are located on Swallow Avenue and then it’s a short walk across South Collier Boulevard to the beach. Parking is $8 per vehicle
We FINALLY got down to South Marco on our second to last day in Naples after spending the summer of 2020 there! I will say, the parking lot is a little tricky to find. Use this address in your GPS: 930 S Collier Blvd. I blew past the parking lot, but luckily I found it. There are only 70 spaces, so go early!
We visited South Marco on a random Thursday, and arrived around 10am. There were plenty of spaces, but when we left around 2:30 there was a jam-up of cars trying to find spots.
From the parking lot, it is about a 5 minute walk to the beach. But friends, getting up early and lugging your stuff is so worth it – this beach is GORGEOUS!
We walked way down to the south end and I felt like I was in the Caribbean. The sky so blue, the water so clear! This is definitely one for the bucket list.
WHERE TO STAY ON MARCO ISLAND:
Our Pick for the Best Beach in Naples Florida
We spent the summer of 2020 in Naples. We drove down to Florida from New York amid the Pandemic, and spent many days exploring the local beaches. After a few weeks my kids just kept asking to go to back to….
Which I realize, has been by far our favorite beach! For many reasons – great sunsets (we have a Friday night sunset picnic tradition), great waves, clean beach, and a few extras like jet ski rentals and a concession stand that sells ice pops!
So if you are short on time, or really want to get to the best of the best, be sure to visit Vandy (as the locals call it)!
So yes, Naples Florida does have a beach – many great beaches in fact! I truly think this area is a hidden gem overlooked by the more well-known Southeast Florida spots of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton! If you are a beach lover, I highly recommend a trip to the Naples Florida area!