This Underrated Florida Island Boasts Unspoiled Beauty Similar To A Caribbean Paradise

If you're looking for a sliver of sunshine, we'd be remiss to not point you to the Sunshine State. Florida is home to plenty of stunning beaches, fun vibrant cities, and attractions so popular that they draw travelers in from all over the globe. Yet even in one of the United States' most tropical states, there are still plenty of hidden gems simply waiting to be discovered, because, yes, there's a lot more to do in Florida besides visiting Disney World. Among the most charming, serene, and picturesque is a small Floridian island located just off of the state's mainland west coast.

We're talking about Cayo Costa Island, a remote respite away from the hustle and bustle of Florida's major cities. Flying far under the radar, Cayo Costa Island makes for a great day trip to tread where few have been in one of the most popular U.S. states. Cayo Costa Island, conveniently located within the Gulf of Mexico, has some of the bluest waters in the state, where you'll scratch your head and wonder if you're in the Caribbean instead.

What to do in Cayo Costa Island, Florida

Florida has some of the best state parks in the country, and Cayo Costa Island is no exception. The main thing to do on the island is visiting Cayo Costa State Park, a 9-mile paradisal stretch of white sand against the classic turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. To enter the park, there is a $2 fee per person. Cayo Costa State Park is open every single day of the year (yes, even major holidays like Christmas and New Year's Eve) from 8 a.m. until sundown, so you can be pretty flexible in your planning.

Cayo Costa State Park is ideal for adventure lovers. While on the island, you can opt for hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, and more. It's also a great spot for catching a glimpse of incredible ocean wildlife. The beaches on Cayo Costa Island are particularly known for their sand dollars, so keep an eye out for those. While it might be tempting to take a sand dollar as a souvenir, remember the golden motto of visiting not only beaches, but everywhere in the world: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Restaurant options are slightly limited, so you'll either want to pack a lunch and some snacks, or plan accordingly if you want to dine out. For a proper meal, take a short boat ride over to Cabbage Key, where there is a nice sit-down restaurant offering anything from fresh catch of the day to cheeseburgers.

How to get to Cayo Costa Island and where to stay

If you're officially convinced to visit Cayo Costa Island, we can't say we blame you, but you'll need to know how to get there. As an island, it makes sense that the only ways to get there are by boat or public ferry. Purchasing a ticket in advance is encouraged. You can catch the public ferry from nearby Sanibel Islands, Pine Island, and Punta Gorda. Prices vary based on season and point of departure.

There is only a small selection of vacation rentals to stay on Cayo Costa. Instead, to base yourself out of a nearby major city, your best bets are choosing somewhere in Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor, or Naples. Fort Myers is particularly a great option for a family-friendly getaway, with activities like the Railroad Museum of South Florida and IMAG History & Science Center. Naples is great for foodies, which is a mere coincidence considering it shares a name with a certain Italian food-centric city. You can opt for Mexican, Italian, and of course, fresh Floridian seafood. For ample outdoor activities including a sprawling waterfront, you'll want to consider Charlotte Harbor.