Skip to Content

Hidden Clam Pass Park in Naples: Swimmers ride the tide; kayakers take a scenic trail

Sharing

Last updated on July 5th, 2024 at 08:31 am

Clam Pass Park beach is worth discovering for its beauty and the fun offered by its tidal flow. It also has a splendid kayak trail through the mangroves and to the beach.

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 10 minutes from Fort Lauderdale beach, I think Clam Pass Park 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.)

Clam Pass is two-fer. It has a beautiful hidden beach and it also has a kayak trail that takes you to that beach and also through beautiful mangrove tunnels. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Clam Pass is two-fer. It has a beautiful hidden beach and it also has a kayak trail that takes you to that beach and through beautiful mangrove tunnels. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The special beach 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 Clam Pass Park parking lot down a three-quarters-mile long boardwalk through a mangrove forest. (You might have to wait for the tram on busy days.)

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. There are plenty of seashells, the sand feels clean and powdery and water is clear.

But that’s not the only thing we love about Clam Pass Park.

Clam Pass Park in Naples, Florida
The pass at Clam Pass Park is the river-like body of water on the left. You float in or out of the pass as the tide carries you. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

clam pass park clam pass marker 12 Hidden Clam Pass Park in Naples: Swimmers ride the tide; kayakers take a scenic trail
The Clam Pass kayak trail has 32 markers; 12 is at the pass, where a sandbar beckons of all those who love to play in the sand. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.)

Shuttle at Clam Pass Park
Shuttle at Clam Pass Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Parents should note that the pull of the tide still can be strong and children should be closely supervised. We’ve been here when the current pulled us well into the mangrove lagoon and it was a challenge to swim against it. There is no lifeguard in this section of the beach.

Clam Pass Park concession area, Naples, Florida
At Clam Pass Park, a good snack bar and a beach-gear concession area are a perk of sharing the beach with an upscale hotel. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Swimmers can explore the pristine 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, kayaks and SUPs.

Vivid colors on the Clam Pass Park kayak trail. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Vivid colors on the Clam Pass Park kayak trail. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The kayak trail at Clam Pass Park

The same parking lot that serves the beach has a kayak launch on its southwestern corner. It leads to a neat six-mile kayak loop through two lagoon-like bays, Outer Clam Bay and Inner Clam Bay, and winds through mangroves. (The northern-most section of the trail has the prettiest narrow mangrove tunnels.)

There are 32 markers on the trail. It’s so well-marked, we thought it would be impossible to get lost. We were wrong; we managed to make a wrong turn but soon realized we were paddling into a dead end.

The best thing about the trail, though, is the opportunity to kayak one mile to the beach with a picnic and towels, swim and enjoy this gorgeous place, and then continue paddling. You can paddle back to the parking lot or you can complete the loop and enjoy the splendid scenery. It would make a good summer kayak outing.

The Clam Pass Park trail had a good number of wading birds and pelicans to admire. Paddlers says they occasionally see manatees and dolphins near the pass. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The Clam Pass Park trail had a number of wading birds and pelicans to admire. Paddlers says they occasionally see manatees and dolphins near the pass. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The shallow waterway is quiet and after the launch at Outer Clam Bay, there are no buildings on the route except three wooden walkways connecting residences to the beach. You almost feel you are someplace wild, except there are highrises always visible behind the mangroves. There are no power boats and only a few other kayakers.

No outfitter serves this trail. Guests of Naples Grande can rent kayaks there and kayaks are for rent at the beach kiosk, where you could paddle along the shore and then into the trail. The problem with those kayaks, though, is the cost. At $40 an hour, it’s not really priced for a six-mile kayak loop. (We dawdled at the beach, took photographs and meandered, spending more than three hours paddling the full loop.)

Clam Pass Park in Naples

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

Parking at Clam Pass Park is $10, and there are 171 spaces that can and do fill up on good beach days. If possible, arrive before 10 a.m.

Tide Charts: Naples Outer Coast

NOTE: See our updated Florida Red Tide Report.

Things to do in Naples near Clam Pass Park

Camping and places to stay near Clam Pass Park

Comments Welcome

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.