With the record breaking temperatures holding steady in the low 90’s here in Bonita Springs, Florida ,most of our time has been spent at the beach or at the pool. We lived in the high humidity belt of Texas for 37 years but after nearly 5 years on the road chasing springtime temperatures I have to admit that we are now in the crowd that thinks 90 degrees is pretty dang hot! We used to think 90 degrees was a great day with Texas summertime temperatures holding for many days in the 100’s. But now if it gets over 85 I find it a bit stifling especially with some hefty humidity.
Since we plan to stay here for three months we had better come up with a plan to visit the beach as mush as possible. This isn’t a real problem right now but as more and more snow birds and other full timers head south the parking will become more of a challenge. Therefore I decided to investigate parking pass options which would allow us to use the paid parking lots instead of the free spaces we so covet.
As I have investigated the web for beach parking solutions it has become apparent that each of them have a hefty price tag. There are currently three options that look viable to me:
- Purchase the Lee County Beach Parking Permit for $60
- Alison Hagerup Beach Park - beach parking lot (fee required), 2 hours - $5, 3 hours - $7, 4 hours - $8, 5 hours - $10
- Boca Grande Beach Accesses - Parking is limited.
- *Bonita Beach Access #1 - Parking fee $2 per hour.
- Bonita Beach Access #'s 2-9 – Parking free but very limited.
- Bonita Beach Park - Parking is available for $2 per hour. Stickers not good here!
- *Bowditch Point Park - Parking Fees: $2/hr.
- *Bowman's Beach - Parking Fees: $3/hr
- Causeway Islands - As you are traveling from the mainland towards Sanibel Island you will pass through a D.O.T. Toll booth (toll is $6 , no fee required for park use)
- Crescent Beach Family Park – No parking available
- Dog Beach – Limited parking along side of road
- Estero Islands Beach Access-North - There are six beach accesses, #37 thru #43, that allow for foot traffic only to the Gulf of Mexico as there are no parking areas provided.
- *Little Hickory Island Beach Park Access #10 - Parking fee is $2 per hour.
- Lynn Hall Memorial Park - Parking fees: $2/hr.
- Main Street Parking - This "free" parking lot is en route to Ft. Myers Beach and has over 50 spaces. Park here for free and for a quarter (.25) per person, load yourself, family and gear on one of many Trolleys.
- Matanzas Bridge Fishing Pier - Parking is limited and there is no fee at this time
- Matanzas Pass Preserve - Parking is limited and there is no fee at this time.
- *San Carlos Bay-Bunche Beach - Approximately 100 vehicles can park
- Turner Beach - Parking is limited $3/hr
- Purchase the Collier County Beach Parking Permit for $50
- Barefoot Beach Preserve Park - 136 parking spaces
- Bluebill Beach Access - park at Parks & Recreation's Conner Park
- Conner Park - 80 parking spaces
- Clam Pass Park - 175 public parking spaces
- Marco Island Beach - 70-parking space lot
- North Gulf Shore Beach Access - parking lot available at the end of Seagate Drive
- Vanderbilt Beach Road - a new 375-space parking garage
- Ann Olesky Park, Caxambas Park, Bayview Park and various other smaller parks and some larger Regional Parks.
- Purchase the State Parks Individual Pass and pay $2 per guest for each entry
- An Individual Annual Pass is $60
- A Family Annual Pass is $120
- There is a 25% discount for veterans so the prices would be $45 and $90 respectively
- Nearby State Parks with beach access are Lover’s Key State Park ($8/car), Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park ($6/car), Estero Bay preserve Park ($2/car), Gasparilla Island State Park ($3/car honor box) and Cayo Costa State Park ($2/person honor box).
The sad thing about the Lee County Beach Parking Permit is it doesn’t work on Bonita Beach Access 10 so it is only good for Bonita Beach Access 1. The only other beaches accessible with the beach parking pass (asterisks above) are are Bowditch Point Park (a 45 minute drive), Bowman's Beach ( an hours drive) and San Carlos Bay-Bunche Beach (a 40 minute drive).
The Collier County Beach Parking Permits give access to more parks. It’s only 20 minutes to the beautiful Barefoot Beach Preserve and less of a drive to Vanderbilt Beach (15 minutes). Add in the fact that Marco Island is only 45 minutes away and it appears as if this may be the best deal.
The Individual Annual Pass with the 25% discount (since I am a veteran of the US Air Force) looks to be a great deal as well. Although we would likely only visit the nearby Lover’s Key State Park and Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park. The added $2 per person charge each time we go would cause the cost to escalate quickly.
It looks as though we will likely be buying the Collier County Beach Parking Permit and take advantage of all the free parking available to many of the Lee County Beach Parks many of which we have never visited before. We can still visit the state parks but will have to simply pay the $8 per car entry on those days.