Location: 26811 South Tamiami Trail | Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Lovers Key, Florida is a scenic natural beauty and a hidden historical gem in Bonita Springs, Florida. There’s something to do for every member of the family, whether you want to relax on the beach or kayak around a barrier island with a colorful past.
There is a tram that can take you to the beach. The park has restroom facilities, picnic tables, canoe and kayak rentals, but no lifeguard. Technically called Lovers Key Carl E. Johnson State Park (we’ll get to that later), the park is one of the best examples of what “real Florida” used to look like. Think gorgeous, almost otherworldly coastal and subtropical habitats. It’s not uncommon to see West Indian manatees, dolphins, bald eagles and a whole variety of birds.
Whether you want to join a naturalist for a tour, or you want to explore on your own, there is no shortage of things to do at Lover’s Key Florida State Park.
Lover’s Key is made up of three other barrier islands, Black Island, Inner and Long Key. Lovers Key is where you’ll find the Lovers Key beach.
You can swim in the turquoise-green Gulf of Mexico waters, sunbathe, look for shells, go for a stroll on the powdery white sand, picnic, go boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking or bicycling. Lovers Key, Florida is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground.
Black Island features over five miles of trails and it’s open 8 a.m. to sundown. You can go it alone or join a Black Island Kayak Tour with a park ranger. The one-and-a-half tour will show you the beautiful Florida landscape and you’ll get to see the wildlife that call Lovers Key home. You can bring your own kayak with you, or you can rent one from the concession stand in the park. Reservations for the tour are also required. You can make them by calling 239.463.4588.
The Black Island Bike Tour is a three-mile adventure on the Black Island Trail, and the tour is conducted by a knowledgeable park ranger. Like the kayak tour, you can also bring your own bike. They’re available to rent from the concession stand. Make reservations by calling 239.463.4588.
Unfortunately, pets are not allowed on the beach as not to disturb the wildlife that live there. However, there is a designated dog beach located nearby at 8800 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, Florida, 33931. Parking is free at Bonita Beach Dog Beach. There are also doggie shower stations to rinse off your pup. Alcohol and glass containers are not allowed.
The barrier islands of Lovers Key were destined for development from the start. Mangrove trees were uprooted, canals were dredged, but thankfully, the state acquired the land in 1983, and has since vowed to preserve it.
In the beginning, Lovers Key, Florida was so secluded, until 1965; it was only accessible by boat. After the city acquired the land in 1983, it merged with the adjacent Carl E. Johnson County Park and eventually became Lovers Key Carl E. Johnson State Park in 1996.
It’s rumored that Black Island was named after the Portuguese pirate who sailed under the flag of Gasparilla, Black Augustus, who reportedly lived on the island for nearly 50 years.
The original Lovers Key, before the bridge was constructed, earned its name because it was so far off the beaten path, it was said only lovers made the trip.
Lovers Key, Florida plays host to a variety of events throughout the year.
Songwriters at Sunset is an intimate experience set against breathtaking Florida sunsets. Join local ACMA artists as they share their original songs and the stories behind them. Concerts at the gazebo are free, but guests must pay to enter the park.
Santa on the Sand is a fun, Florida way to celebrate the holidays. On the beach near the gazebo, there will be games, lunch and prizes with Santa. Make sure you bring a camera so you can take photos.
Morning Yoga is offered on the gazebo via Friends of Lovers Key (FOLK). There’s nothing like yoga on the beach to clear your mind and put it at ease.
Learn how to cast a line at the Lovers Key Fishing Clinic. A park naturalist will teach you about fresh bait rigs and tackle. You’ll also learn about the rules and regulations of game fishing in Southwest Florida as well as where the best places to drop a line. Reservations are required by calling 239.463.4588.
Royal Shell has a variety of rental homes near Lovers Key, Florida. The majority of them are located on Fort Myers Beach, which is about 15 to 30 minutes away from the state park. Also, let us know what you did on your trip to Lovers Key, Florida. We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section.
You can search for Royal Shell vacation rentals online and you can give our Vacation Planning Advisors a call if you have any questions or want to book a rental property.