Location: 26811 South Tamiami Trail | Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Visit the Naples Pier on a weekend during tourist season and you’ll find people visiting from all over the world. As soon as you step onto its sandy boardwalk, you’ll feel at ease. The history of the Naples Pier is lingering in the air and it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Fishermen guard their posts and cast lines off the side; regulars normally cluster at the end. Fathers are teaching their sons how to properly cast a line; teenagers are walking by together in groups, smiles plastered across their faces. And toward the end of the day, couples both young and old watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico and the sky change from blue to orange to pink to purple.
Our favorite time to visit the pier is in the summer. It’s less crowded and it’s more peaceful. Sometimes early in the morning, you can have the whole pier to yourself. It’s ghostly quiet, but everything feels remarkably still.
The Naples Pier, located at the end of 12th Avenue South in Naples, Florida, is one of the most photographed and visited destinations in Collier County. Built in 1889 by the Naples Company as a passenger and freight dock where goods, mail, and people arrived from Punta Gorda to Naples, the pier has been at the center of many Neapolitans’ lives for over a century.
Visitors and locals come together on its boardwalk to enjoy the sunshine, smell the saltwater and watch the birds, dolphins and other wildlife that frequent the 1,000-foot walkway. The pier is also a popular fishing destination as you don’t need a fishing license to cast a line and catch your bounty. It’s also surrounded by historic Naples homes and buildings and it’s not far from the popular shopping and dining destination, Third Street South.
The Naples Pier is home to a couple of volleyball courts and a 10-mile-long municipal beach. At the center of the Naples Pier, there is a concession stand, open from 9 a.m. to sunset during winter and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer. Food is provided from local favorite, Cosmo’s Café & Pizzeria.
The history of the Naples Pier is as dynamic as the City on the Gulf. It has withstood six major hurricanes and recently underwent a major renovation. In 2015, the wood on the pier was replaced with Brazilian ipe, an impressive material that could last up to three decades. It’s also supposed to be cool to the touch, something beachgoers will undoubtedly appreciate. The pier also got bigger bathrooms and new sea turtle-friendly lights.
Before the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) was finished in 1928, the only way people could get to Naples was by boat via the Naples Pier. However, before the wooden pier was finished, there was a shell road from Fort Myers to Naples.
The city’s first post office was located at the end of the pier before it was destroyed by an accidental cigarette fire in 1912. The pier survived the fire—and hurricanes in 1910, 1926, 1935, 1944, 1960 and 2017. Throughout the years, the structure has proven to be as resilient as the people who frequent it.
The Naples Pier was officially completed in 1889 and helped transport guests to and from the Old Naples Hotel, which opened a year later. Other Naples homes, like Palm Cottage, sprang up around the pier as well. The original structure was a T-shaped, 600-foot wharf. Changing rooms, a bathhouse and freight lifts were installed in 1909. A year later, a hurricane destroyed much of the pier. It was reconstructed to be 100 feet longer with two wings that formed a “V.”
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the first time the pier had to be rebuilt after a hurricane.
In 1926, another storm struck and damaged the pier yet again. There was another devastating hurricane in 1935, but it was the hurricane of 1944 that prompted the pier to be rebuilt to sturdier standards. The next version of the pier would be in 22 feet of water and 100 feet longer. This is when the pier started to become known as more of a fishing, dancing and sunset viewing destination.
In 1960, the infamous Hurricane Donna hit Florida and caused the pier to be completely reconstructed. The pier collapsed under the weight of Category 4 water and winds. Fast forward 10 months later and it was standing again—still a major Naples landmark and community gathering place in the heart of the city.
It saw more major renovations in 2015 and had to be shut down two years later for repairs from Hurricane Irma. But no matter what, the pier isn’t going anywhere. It’s part of the heartbeat of Naples and that’s how it will stay.
Here are some frequently asked questions about visiting the pier.
Yes, you can fish on the Naples Pier, and the best part is you don’t need a fishing license. The city purchased a bulk fishing license so anyone on the pier is allowed to fish there.
It also doesn’t cost anything to walk or fish on the pier either. After the pier was destroyed by Hurricane Donna in 1960, the city considered charging people to walk or fish on the structure. Thankfully, voters rejected that idea, and the pier has remained free ever since.
For Naples Pier parking, there are two options. Residents and visitors can either use a beach parking permit to park for free or pay-by-space at a nearby machine. Beach parking permits can be obtained at Naples City Hall for city residents. Those who live in Collier County beyond Naples city limits must go to a Collier County park or library.
Pay-by-space parking is:
Now that you know more about the dynamic history of the Naples Pier, your visit to the iconic Naples landmark will be even more special. Royal Shell has a variety of rentals near the Naples Pier and downtown Naples. If you see something you love, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Helping people plan the perfect vacation and create lasting memories is our specialty.