The website DrBeach.org has confirmed news that will be no surprise to Southwest Florida residents. The site has named Barefoot Beach Preserve in Bonita Springs as the second-best beach in America for 2015. The Florida gem trailed only Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii. Here’s how Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a well-known coastal scientist who compiles the list, describes Barefoot Beach:
This beach in Southwest Florida is 8,200 foot long and located in a 342 acre park. The surf is gentle with waves generally being measured in inches, and the water is very shallow, making this a great beach for bathing and swimming for families. The sand is fine and contains many small shells.
Dr. Beach grades beaches on 50 categories including beach width, noise, public safety, beach access, and wildlife, among others. The site measures the beaches during peak season. Barefoot Beach surely scored highly in most categories, including wildlife. The beach is often teeming with ocean life as well as egrets, osprey, sandpipers, and pelicans.
Aquablue waves roll onto the beach with unobstructed views and little car or crowd noise. For the uninitiated, Barefoot Beach might be surprising. There are a few restaurants in the area, and not much else besides the beach within walking distance. There are two parking lots that can fill up completely during the October-May tourist season. Doc’s Beach House serves beach fare and there is an opportunity to rent stand up paddle boards and jet skis. Many families make a day of it by bringing lunch to eat in the covered pavilions. There are also full, clean bathrooms and an outdoor shower. A crowd often gathers at sunset and politely claps as the sun disappears beneath the horizon.
Barefoot Beach has long been a favorite of ours because it is much easier to get to than Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel Island during the tourist season because there are multiple routes. Get there early during the winter months, though.
If You Go …
Where: Barefoot Beach Preserve, Bonita Springs
Parking: $8 a day in the Collier County lot or $2 per hour in the Lee County Lot