Time Required: 1 hour (for just the hike and a short visit) – all day (for beaching it)
Cost: $8 for parking
Parking: Lot (watch for turtles!)
- No food or drink available for purchase. (Tip: If you bring your own, bring an extra bag to make it easier to carry out your trash.)
- Don’t park in the community outside (towing + it’s rude)
- You can visit the beach by boat.
- Address at the bottom of the article.
Drive through a mile and a half of hand-laid brick roads surrounded by several million dollar homes packed tight into a community, and you’ll eventually arrive at the entrance to Barefoot Beach Preserve. The community is the type that will inevitably make passers-through (us included!) try to guess the prices of the homes, pick out their favorites, and decide if this would be what they’d want if they “had that kind of money.” (My fave was a coral-colored one on the corner with a two-story-high purple bougainvillea outside.)
For $8 per car, you’ll have full access to not only the peaceful and interesting beach, but also a winding 1.5 mile nature trail. W. Saylor Trail is a gentle hike through tropical plants that might result in a few animal and insect sightings that you might not see on a regular day. It’s a small trail of dirt and sand (and a few roots, so watch out!) that’s mostly covered by a canopy of palm fronds and mangroves.
On our hike, we saw several new kinds of animals and plants, including a completely un-photographable spider with a black and white back and a crown of red spikes. Seriously, this spider gave us a whole new appreciation for spider photography. I’m embarrassed to admit that I took 30 pics and two videos and not one of them turned out clear. Instead I got 28 pictures and two videos of a blurry dot.
This is the best I could do.
We did get to see a cute little armadillo rooting around in a divot among the tree roots, and I did get a video of him/her, albeit not a great one. (#GetTheeToAPhotographyClass ?) We also learned about strangler figs (native to Florida) and saw a few new types of flora we had never seen. Visiting Florida always makes me wish I had another life in which I could be a botanist or a scientist who studies flowers and trees. However, reality says I only get to have a superficial knowledge of these incredible living things — BUT, if you have more knowledge about the plants and animals we write about here on Wanderous.Life, please write it in the comments or contact us!
But, I digress. At the end of the trail, the footpath turns to sand and you finally approach what you may have forgotten you were there for amid the other exciting discoveries on the trail: soft, white sand and a sprawling view of the Gulf. At the end of W. Saylor Trail, the tropical canopy gives way, the dirt turns into sand, and you are treated to sparkling blue waters framed by the ghosts of mangroves.
Lines of the surf are marked by swaths of shells, some being complete conchs while others look like they’ve been washed smooth by a hundred years of salt water. White-as-clouds butterfly shells and pretty collections of scalloped shells are nestled in the half-wet sand in that perfectly random way only nature can achieve.
On the tree carcass that frames the end/beginning of W. Saylor Trail, visitors have put shells to mark their having been there. We placed ours on the tree as well and hiked back through the woods to find another adventure.
Address: 505 Barefoot Beach Blvd, Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Phone Number: (239) 252-4000
- Official: http://www.colliergov.net/your-government/divisions-f-r/parks-and-recreation/beaches-and-boats/barefoot-beach-preserve-county-park#preserve
- Great non-profit that helps with upkeep: http://www.friendsofbarefootbeach.org/aboutpreserve