Cayo Costa State Park
One of the largest barrier islands in Florida
, this paradise of a state park off the northern end of North Captiva Island is accessible by water only. Soon after you arrive by private boat or ferry, you'll be pleased with your decision to ditch the car for the day. The secluded island has 2,400 acres of pristine wilderness and nine miles of beaches: It is an idyllic setting for a day of swimming, lounging on the sand, and searching for seashells. The calls of seabirds rise from the beach and keep an eye on the water, too, where you may spot manatees and dolphins. If you're feeling adventurous, you can spend the night, pitching a tent at a campsite, or renting a primitive cabin for an adventure on this barrier island park.