Cayo Costa State Park beach reopens to public
More than a year after Hurricane Ian devastated the area, a barrier island has reopened to visitors.
Effective Oct. 25, the Cayo Costa State Park beach is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset for those with private vessels. The Friends of Cayo Costa State Park reported that restrooms are available on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island. However, ferry services, docks, electricity, drinking water and overnight accommodations remain unavailable at this time.
Visitors are asked to adhere to all posted signs and to avoid closed areas.
“Please leave no trace of your visit,” the FoCC added.
Following the September storm last year, the park was closed for repairs.
“Cayo Costa State Park was significantly impacted by Hurricane Ian, a devastating Category 4 storm that destroyed much of the park’s infrastructure,” the park manager reported via an update.
At the time, cleanup and demolition efforts had been finished and staff were working on repairing and rebuilding the infrastructure. They also were working on repairs and managing natural resources.
“The native flora and fauna are already bouncing back with palm trees, hardwoods and pines showing signs of life, while gopher tortoises, shorebirds, manatees and alligators are thriving in their habitats,” the park manager added.
In March, the FoCC provided an update based on reports from park staff.
At the time, the dock was in permitting for total replacement. The maintenance shed, ranger residences and cabins were all lost, but the FoCC was working with the park to obtain approval for researching a replacement for the cabin camping experience.
For more information about the park, visit floridastateparks.org/CayoCosta.
Based on Pine Island, the FoCC is a subcommittee of the Barrier Islands Parks Society — a nonprofit that is the official citizens support organization for Cayo Costa, Gasparilla, Stump Pass, Don Pedro State Parks, Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum, Gasparilla Island Lighthouse and Amory Memorial Chapel. All funds raised by the FoCC are used exclusively for Cayo Costa State Park.
The FoCC’s mission is to preserve, protect and promote the unique unspoiled natural beauty and heritage of the Cayo Costa for present and future generations. Its goal is to preserve and protect one of the few remaining undisturbed/undeveloped barrier islands left in Florida, while educating the general public and local community on the natural and cultural resources found on the island.
For more about the FoCC, visit friendsofcayocosta.org.