Barefoot Beach is part of the Collier County Park system and is located in the very northwest corner of the county snug up against Bonita Beach in Lee County. The beach is several miles long and goes from Bonita Beach at the north end to all the way to Wiggins Pass on the south end. To get there, if you’re traveling west on Bonita Beach Road, turn at the stoplight just before Bonita Beach into an upscale residential neighborhood named Barefoot Beach. Don’t be fooled – you’ll drive through this community for 1.5 miles until you reach the entrance to the park.
Watch for gopher tortoises crossing the roadway as you make your way into the preserve area. Barefoot Beach Preserve is more than 340 acres of natural land and one of the last undeveloped barrier islands in Southwest Florida so, this is habitat for many species like the tortoises and osprey that you’ll see sharing space with you.
If you like wading through the water, just sitting on the beach, shelling, fishing or exercising in the outdoors, this is heaven. There’s plenty of space here so, even on the very busiest beach days you can either mingle amongst other folks and families or choose a remote spot along the beach to set up camp and just occasionally encounter someone walking the beach.
Barefoot Beach is loaded with facilities and amenities. The preserve also offers handicapped beach wheelchair access. You’ll find restrooms, showers, a full-service snack bar, dining tables on the raised deck and the learning center at Parking Lot #1. Park rangers offer several programs including a guided walking tour through the preserve where you can learn about the flora and fauna and identify some of the local birds and animals. The learning center has displays and literature that will show you the shells you’ll find at the beach as well as describe the ecosystem of this special area.
At the Barefoot Beach Hut, you are able to rent giant cabanas, umbrellas, lounge chairs, pedal boats, canoes, various size kayaks and other water toys.
At the Barefoot Beach Pavilion, you’ll find plenty at the cafe: hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, chips, crackers, popcorn, cookies, ice cream, frozen fruit smoothies, fresh squeezed lemonade, sodas and bottled water.
Here are some tips for enjoying this beach:
- If you want to be near all of the amenities, then go early and choose to leave your car in Parking Lot #1. That’s where you’ll find the Pavilion, the Learning Center and the cafe.
- If you want to get situated on the beach with a little more solitude, then choose either Parking Lot #2 or #3.
- Wiggins Pass is at the very south end of the park so, if watching boats go in and out of the pass or watching fishermen is interesting for you then park at the very end of Parking Lot #3 and walk on one of the paths that will take you directly to Wiggins Pass.
- For shelling, start out from Parking Lot #3 and walk to the beach. Start looking when you see the osprey nest near that entry point. For some reason, Mother Nature leaves the bigger shells the farther south you walk. The shells are plentiful and we have found lettered olives, banded tulips, shark’s eye, colorful natica, crown conchs, bubble shells, nutmegs, murex, limpets, horse conchs, sugers, slipper shells lightning whelks, sunray venus, various scallop shells, jingles, angel wings, cats paws, cockles, spiny jewel boxes and our favorite alphabet cones.
- For sand dollars, definitely go at low tide (read our post “Where Do I Find Sand Dollars?” and read the part about tide charts). Look for three sandbar peninsulas that are south of the osprey nest at the beach. Although not as guaranteed as some other spots like Access #8 along Hickory Blvd., we have collected as many as 75 sand dollars in one outing to Barefoot Beach. All of the biggest ones we’ve ever collected have come from this beach – things are bigger at Barefoot Beach for some reason. If a sand dollar is dark in color and has fuzz on it, it’s alive. Don’t take it. It’s against the law.
- Shark’s teeth? Yes, you will find them on this beach. We found two of our very best prehistoric megalodon shark’s teeth on Barefoot Beach. Train your eyes to spot the shape and the patina so you don’t get tricked by a piece of shell or a stone.
- The gopher tortoise is a protected species and it’s unlawful to touch, handle, feed or disturb this land tortoise. Do not put them in the water – they do not swim!
- When you leave the beach, check under your car before you pull out to make sure that there isn’t a tortoise taking a nap under your vehicle.
- There are beach wheelchairs available at the Pavilion.
Also, you might notice the extra parking that is located outside of the actual preserve as you first turn off of Bonita Beach Road. There are not any facilities there but you are immediately adjacent to the Lee County facilities at Bonita Beach Park as well as a stone’s throw to Doc’s Beach House Restaurant & Bar.
As always, don’t be bashful! Call or text us at (239) 272-4848 with questions, advice or local tips.
Barefoot Beach Preserve
2 Barefoot Boulevard
Bonita Springs, Florida 34134