Beaches / Southwest Florida

Naples beach: Discover hidden Clam Pass Park, where you ride the tide

Clam Pass beach is a worth discovering for its beauty and the fun offered by its tidal flow

Clam Pass Beach Park in Naples, Florida

The pass at Clam Pass is the river-like body of water on  the left. You float in or out of the pass as the tide carries you.

~NAPLES — Few outside of Naples know about this hidden beach,  which may appear to be the private beach of a posh resort. But it’s not — it’s a Collier County park. And while I live five minutes from Fort Lauderdale beach, I think Clam Pass beach is so special I have driven across the state for a day at this beach.

Clam Pass Park  is tucked away behind the Naples Grande Beach Resort.  That’s how I discovered it, on a weekend getaway when we stayed at the resort on a summer rate sale.

There are a few assets that set this beach apart from the other spectacular Naples beaches (and they are all excellent.)

Shuttle at Clam Pass Park

Shuttle at Clam Pass Park

First, I love how you reach the beach — it feels like the start of an adventure. You can walk or take a free tram from the parking lot down a three-quarters-mile long boardwalk through a mangrove forest.

Then, from the shady mangrove tunnel, you emerge on a sunny day to a beach with sand that is blindingly white and water impossibly turquoise.  But that’s not the only thing we love about Clam Pass Park.

The pass itself is a narrow river-like opening in the mangroves, shallow enough an adult can stand at the center except at the highest tide. If you hop into the waters of the pass, you are gently swept away by the tide. If the tide is coming in, you float into a shallow mangrove-fringed lagoon. If the tide is going out, you float out into the Gulf, which remains shallow for a great distance.

It’s a natural “lazy river” adventure, where the pull and depth of the water is safe but still fun.  (The currents in larger passes can be extremely dangerous, making Clam Pass Park a unique experience. It’s the smallest, shallowest pass on the coast.)

Clam Pass Park concession area, Naples, Florida

A good snack bar and a beach-gear concession area are a perk of sharing the beach with an upscale hotel.

On the other side of the pass, the beach stretches on for miles, lined with seagrape trees and foliage. Visitors thin out after a short distance, so if you dream of having a beach to yourself, this is for you. We held our towels and camera over our head as we waded across the pass. Then we explored the long, natural beach, which we had virtually to ourselves.

We also explored the mangrove lagoon area, wading through shallow water to dead-ends, where fiddler crabs scurried as we approached.

Because this is the beach for the Naples Grande Beach Resort, regular folks benefit from exceptional amenities intended for hotel guests. There’s a little cafe with sandwiches and drinks, and not outrageously priced. A concession stand rents chairs, umbrellas, Hobie cats and more.

Parking at Clam Pass Park is $8, and there are 175 spaces that can fill up.

Clam Pass Park

Seagate Drive  and Crayton Road, Naples
Hours: 8 a.m. to sundown
Phone: (239) 252-4000

Things to do in Naples near Clam Pass Park

Camping and places to stay

  • Camping:  Collier Seminole State Park,  Koreshan State Park
  • Lodging:  We’ve stayed at Cove Inn on Naples Bay, which offers reasonably priced hotel rooms and efficiencies in a 1970s vintage hotel in a marina.  It made a great base for bicycling around old Naples. when you might get a deal. We also got a fabulous deal and stayed at the Naples Grande Beach Resort one weekend, which is how we discovered Clam Pass Park in the first place — it’s the beach that serves this hotel. It’s a grand place, particularly off-season
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