Once a collection of secluded barrier islands reachable only by boat, Lovers Key, in recent years, has become a romantic destination for spectacular, beachside weddings.
Previously destined to become the site of luxury condominiums, the land that is now Lovers Key State Park was donated to the people of Florida so that its beaches and mangrove forests can be preserved for all to enjoy.
Hop in a kayak or lounge under an umbrella on the shore. Explore serene canals and lagoons that are favorite grazing spots for manatee and shorebirds. You may see the calm, turquoise waters broken by a dolphin’s dorsal fin or by the strike of an osprey’s talons.
Lovers Key isn’t just a name either—the park is a popular romantic destination and frequently hosts picturesque gulf-side weddings.
Enjoy over five miles of multi-use trails including the Black Island Trail and the Eagle Trail through the maritime hammock. Trail maps are available showing many interesting places and observation points along the trail. With plenty of areas to stop and enjoy the view, you might spot manatees or dolphins in the inner waterways. Watch an Osprey take flight and catch a nice fish for lunch or a Bald Eagle soar above. Find the freshwater pond where the alligators live in the park. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under. Bring your own bicycle or rent one from Lovers Key Adventures, explore on your own or check out our events page to see when the next guided bicycle tour is scheduled.
Rental Information (239) 765-7788
See manatees, dolphins, alligators, osprey, and bald eagles while you paddle through the 2.5-mile mangrove protected estuary.
Rental Information (239) 765-7788
Trout, redfish, snook and tarpon are caught seasonally. Castnetting for mullet in the bay is a popular activity. All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license may be required. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
Shark fishing from the beach at Lovers Key/Carl E. Johnson State Park
With 1.2 million visitors using the beach for recreation including swimming, we no longer permit shark fishing during daylight hours from the beach. You are welcome to use your after-hours permit to fish for sharks during the hours: 1 hour after sunset to sunrise. No person shall use chumming or blood baiting for sharks on the beach or within 1,000 feet of the beach. All FWC rules regarding the catch and release of sharks will apply.
62d-20.14(1) Shark fishing is prohibited from sunrise to one hour after sunset from the beach.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Operation Recreation GeoTour
The Black Island Trail is 2.5 miles of hiking or biking adventure through a maritime hammock along the canal banks of Black Island.
The Eagle Trail is 1.1 miles of hiking or biking adventure through a maritime hammock along the inner waterways of Black Island.
Both trails are comprised of mostly grass and compacted soil with pockets of sand and occasional mud. Including the beach and the paved path along the main park drive there are over 7 miles of trails in the park.
Several picnic areas are set throughout the park. On the beach, the inner waterways or the backwaters of Estero Bay, you will be able to find the right spot to enjoy a picnic. Many of the picnic areas are equipped with grills and trash receptacles. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Hammocks are permitted in designated areas. These areas are the Canoe/Kayak Launch Picnic Area, Bayside Park and the picnic area at the North Entrance. Hammocks can only be attached to Seagrape trees measuring 12” at breast height (DBH) using 2” straps to secure the hammock to the trees.
Lovers Key is a 2.5-mile stretch of beautiful beach along the Gulf of Mexico. This beach offers some of the best shelling opportunities on the Lee County coast. Please remember: you cannot take a shell if an animal still calls it home. Live shelling and the collection of sea stars is prohibited.
Swimming is a popular activity in the Gulf. The park boasts 2.5 miles of excellent beachfront. Please note there are no lifeguards on duty, swim at your own risk.
The Park staff as well as Lovers Key Adventures & Events offer a full array of programs and tours that are sure to entice the adventurous side of you. Join park naturalists as you discover the many interesting aspects of this nature lover’s paradise. For more information on Ranger Led programs view our ranger events page or call the ranger station at 239-463-4588. If you need a kayak or bicycle for a ranger led tour you can receive a 25% discount to rent for that tour from Lovers Key Adventure & Events.
You can also find additional tour information and pricing from Lovers Key Adventures & Events at 239-765-7788. Lovers Key Adventures offers kayak and stand up paddle board tours every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance and a minimum of three people for tour.
Lovers Key offers one of the best birding areas in Southwest Florida. The park is home to many active Osprey nests, Roseate Spoonbills, Snowy Egrets, the American Kestrel and other species are often observed feeding in the bays, estuaries and maritime hammocks. With over 40 varieties of birds recorded, 17 of which are on the designated species list, Lovers Key is a birder's paradise.
The park is also home to other wildlife, such as Gopher Tortoises, American Alligators, Bottlenose Dolphins and West Indian Manatees.
Lovers Key is a 2.5-mile stretch of beautiful beach along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. It was selected as the #4 beach in Florida by the Travel Channel. A courtesy tram is available to the south beach where a gazebo, restroom and picnic area are located. A beautiful walk over two bridges takes you to the mid portion of the beach, which is left natural, with no facilities. The north beach is accessible through the north honor gate at Big Carlos Pass. We suggest you explore all three areas of the beach and discover their unique attributes.
A boat ramp is located in the park for direct access to Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The bait shop on site sells live and frozen bait and is open from 6:30 am to 5 pm everyday of the year. T-shirts, souvenirs, snacks, ice cold drinks and ice cream are also available. If you don’t have your own boat, kayaks and canoes are available for rent all day from the Bait Shop.
Bait Shop 239-463-5990
The Bayside Park located on the east side of Estero Blvd. offers opportunities to visitors for recreation and relaxation. This picnic area offers two playgrounds, nine pavilions, grills, volleyball court and restroom facilities.
A pavilion at the south beach is available to rent for weddings, reunions, company picnics and parties. The pavilion holds 80 people and has eight picnic tables.
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