Don Pedro Island State Park is located near Boca Raton, Florida on the southwestern coast. It is part of a series of barrier islands that runs from Knight Island to Little Gasparilla Island and is only accessible by boat. A ferry service runs trips out to this beautiful barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico.
Boaters can tie up at the dock along the mangrove forested leeward side of the island. Cavanaugh Community Corp. purchased the island for development in 1969 when they built the dock and pavilion on the southern side of the island. In 1985 the state purchased the park and further development never ensued. In 1999, land on the nearby mainland was purchased to provide a home base for the park rangers and resources.
Once you get out onto the island, you’ll want to explore its many miles of scenic trails that take you through 11 different ecosystems and forest structures on the island. Giant leather ferns and coontie-rare tropical plants can be seen along the trails inner forests. Many different bird species call this forest home. Oystercatchers, turns and bald eagles all call this unique Florida gem home.
After a nice hike, head on over to the beach side of Don Pedro Island State Park. A one mile long stretch of pure white sugar sand beaches awaits you. This is the perfect place to swim and snorkel or just spend a day relaxing on the shores. Gentle waves and shallow waters allows for some of the best swimming in the state. Scuba diving can be done off of the beaches as several reefs line the shores of the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
If swimming isn’t your style, fishing might just get you hooked! Some of the best beach fishing in the state is available on the island or off its shores. Snook, trout, redfish, whiting and tarpon are all caught daily off these productive shores and shoals. Water in the flats can be very shallow, possible two or less feet deep, slow trolling and a vigilant eye can yield some big fish. Watch for manatees during summer months.
After a big day exploring the island, stop by one of the many picnic tables and grab a bite to eat. Restrooms and grills make this a picnic lunch that’s hard to beat.
For information on directions, ferry services or other park questions, visit the Don Pedro Island State Park website here.