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Barefoot Beach, ‘second best beach in America,’ is wild & wonderful

Last updated on December 18th, 2021 at 06:21 pm

Unspoiled Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs near Naples

Though it’s easy to reach, Barefoot Beach makes you feel miles away from highways and highrises. It’s one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast.

Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park is located at the end of Barefoot Beach Road off of Bonita Beach Road —  15 minutes west of I-75. To reach the park, you wind through a residential community of million-dollar homes.

Because it is a county park it tends to be known mostly by locals. If you want to get away from people, just start walking south. There’s a mile of beach lined with 342 acres of natural land, ending in the swift currents of Wiggins Pass.

This is Florida, unspoiled, with sea oats supporting the sand dunes and a coastal hammock of sabal palm, gumbo limbo and sea grape trees.

Across the pass lies Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, a similarly gorgeous beach and park.

Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs
Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Stephen Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach”, named it to his top 10 beaches in America list for several years, but, fortunately, it remains unspoiled. When he named it #6 in 2013, he describes it this way: “The surf is gentle with waves generally being measured in inches, and the water is very shallow, making this a great beach for bathing and swimming for families. The sand is fine and contains many small shells.”

Royal terns at Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs
Royal terns at Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Like at many of the Gulf’s spectacular beaches, you may find sand-dollars, shells or spot a bottle-nosed dolphin in the water in the distance.

Gopher tortoises and their burrows are plentiful along the nature trail that runs between the sand dunes and the hammock and it’s a good place to see crawl marks left by nesting Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles in the summer.

Shells on Barefoot Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Shells on Barefoot Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Kayaking is popular on the inland side of Barefoot Beach, with its tidal creeks and mangrove swamps. Canoes can be rented at the Barefoot Beach concession and there is no launch fee if you bring your own.

A canoe trip through the estuary guided by a park ranger operates January through April. Reservations are required. Call the Collier County Parks and Recreation office at 239-252-4060 for dates and time. Fee is $10 per person.

A one-mile nature trail weaves through the tropical hammock to Wiggins Pass. Here’s a trail map:

Barefoot Beach trail map
Barefoot Beach trail map

In recent years, a concession has opened that rents beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas as well as food that you can order to be delivered here. Details are at Discover Barefoot Beach.

The real attraction, though, is a perfect, unspoiled natural beach lined with a lush profusion of vegetation.

For more information:

Barefoot Beach

Barefoot Beach Road off Bonita Beach Road
$8 parking/entrance fee
Hours: 8 a.m. to sundown
Phone: (239) 591-8596

An aerial-view video captures the beauty:

What’s near Barefoot Beach?

Sanddollar found on Barefoot Beach in Bonita Beach.
Sanddollar found on Barefoot Beach. (Photo: David Blasco)
Walkway to Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs
Walkway to Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs. (Photo: David Blasco)

NOTE: Follow this link to learn status of red tide in the region.

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

This article is the property of and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.

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