Park was destroyed by Hurricane Ian in September 2023
One of the best beaches in Southwest Florida, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park reopened eights months after Hurricane Ian’s 10-foot storm surge destroyed every building and left four to five feet of sand throughout the park.
The May 15 reopening was earlier than expected; previous estimates suggested it could take several years.
The park’s official Facebook page explained: “Simply put, we are not the same park as we once were and there are some changes that were necessary for us to partially open. The alternative was to stay closed for years as the rebuild moved forward.”
What’s open at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
- The beach. A rope fence is in place at the previous vegetation line along the beach. It is designed to protect the dunes and help vegetation grow back.
- Limited parking is available in lots 1 and 2. (Lots 3, 4 and 5 are closed and still need major repairs.)
- Additional parking is available at Connor Park, right outside the Delnor-Wiggins entrance at Bluebill Avenue and Gulfshore Drive, Naples. Collier County offers a free shuttle to and from Delnor-Wiggins if you park at Conner Park.
- Portapotties are located in the parking lots; dressing rooms and bathrooms have not been rebuilt yet.
- The boat ramp has re-opened. There is a $5 fee to a power boat in addition to the park entrance fee.
What’s missing at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
- There are no beach concessions.
- There are no picnic tables and grilling is not allowed.
- The observation deck and boardwalk in the coastal hammock at the north end of the park is gone and has not been rebuilt.
The beach at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
Delnor-Wiggins has the powdery white sand and clear water of the best Gulf Coast beaches. It also has some snorkeling opportunities and good fishing at the pass.
You can walk for a mile with very clear water full of creatures. In visits over the years, we found live shells, sea stars and watched a small ray scoot along the shore. Beaches don’t come any prettier in South Florida.
Near the pass, swimming is prohibited and surf-fishing rules. We watched fishermen throw a cast net into what looked like a dark cloud just off the beach and pull out dozens of big mullet. Park info says fishermen commonly land snook, red drum and sea trout.
The beach is a rare Gulf Coast spot where snorkeling is popular. We didn’t try it, but the park’s information indicates there is a hard bottom reef that runs parallel to the beach near parking areas one and two. It’s in about 8 or 10 feet of water.
Kayaking options around Wiggins Pass
Wiggins Pass divides Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park from Barefoot Beach Preserve to the north. On both sides, there are spectacular beaches and the mouth of the pass is lined with white sandbars. Delnor-Wiggins Park preserves 166 acres of undisturbed barrier island.
Paddlers are discouraged from paddling in the pass because of motorboat traffic and strong currents. It’s safer to the hug the shoreline and to cross the river where the water widens well east of pass.
Just inland from the pass, there are clusters of mangrove islands and they make great places to explore by kayak. The area attracts a variety of birdlife – we saw osprey, kingfishers and a many types of herons and egrets. (Better birders could probably spot more species, including the black-whiskered vireo, which apparently is abundant.)
We paddled Water Turkey Bay, which forms the eastern border of Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park and saw two dolphins – common in the area, we have read.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has a large boat ramp on Water Turkey Bay where you can put in your own kayak or power boat.
If you start paddling from the boat ramp, you can paddle across Water Turkey Bay and find a channel that takes you on a narrow route through the mangroves for about a mile, bringing you to the Cocohatchee River and, eventually, a route back to the pass.
We did this three-mile loop, except we put in at the other end, Cocohatchee Park, Vanderbilt Drive between 111th Avenue & Bonita Beach Road. Launching here is $4. (This is a route included in Nigel Foster’s helpful “Guide to Sea Kayaking in Southern Florida” book.)
Take a look at Google map’s satellite view to see the various kayaking options.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park resources
Fees: Admission is $6 per vehicle with up to eight people per vehicle.
Pets: Not on the beach
Location: From I-75, take Exit 111 (Immokolee Road) and drive six miles west to the entrance.
11135 Gulf Driver North
Naples, FL 34108
NOTE: See our updated Florida Red Tide Report.
What’s near Delnor-Wiggins State Park?
- Kayaking or canoeing: Koreshan State Historic Park on the Estero River and the Imperial River in Bonita Springs both offer excellent routes.
- Beach, kayaking and manatees in winter: Lovers Key State Park. (Portions are closed from Hurricane Ian)
- Bicycling: A great way to sample beaches is by bike in old Naples.
- Camping: Koreshan State Historic Park (and it’s a really interesting visit on its own.)
- Another great beach nearby: Clam Pass Park,
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.