St. Andrews State Park is a state park located on the north side of Fort Myers Beach, between Big Carlos Pass and New Pass Point, in Lee County, Florida. The address is 1 Causeway Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, Florida 33931. It has many amenities including beaches, bicycling, birding, boat tours, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking areas, swimming, wildlife viewing and full camping facilities.
There are also two golf courses at the park. One is an 18-hole par 72 course and the other is a 9 hole pro shop course with practice green. Both were designed by Earl Stone and have been rated in the top 50-75 public golf courses by Golf Digest magazine. In his book A Thousand Miles Up the Coast, Bill Jameson describes the park as “a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway’s”, who often visited it to write long letters home about life in the States. At least three of Hemingway’s most popular short stories, including The Snows of Kilimanjaro, were written while he was staying there or visiting nearby. The park was featured in several movies, such as How Green Was My Valley (1941), Back From the Dead (1946) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1968).
On November 11, 2010, then President Barack Obama hosted Cuban American community leaders, business owners and politicians for a roundtable discussion at the park. During his visit, he signed the historic normalization agreement which ended the embargo against Cuba. Normalized relations between the United States and Cuba opened up trade and travel opportunities between the countries. This marked the first time that Americans could freely vacation in Cuba since 1959, when former president Dwight D. Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with the island nation over its national security policies. Prior to this event, only Cubans living in the U.S. could legally go on vacation to Cuba, and those who wished to do so had to bring their passport with them.
Under the new policy, all Americans age 16 & older can now go on a visa free vacation to Cuba through any authorized tour operator. For the first time in nearly 60 years, Americans may now take their families on vacation to one of America’s closest allies. To celebrate the signing of the agreement, the park held a grand opening ceremony the following month, allowing guests to sample rum from local distilleries, ride horseback, learn how to milk goats, and enjoy food prepared by local chefs using fresh produce grown in the park’s garden plot.
St. Andrews State Park features two distinct ecosystems within its boundaries, both coastal habitats. The south coast contains maritime hammock, mangroves, marshland and tidal estuaries, typical of a coastal barrier environment. The northern part of the park is pine flatwoods and upland mixed forests. Amenities include bike paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, volleyball courts, horseshoe courts, disc golf course, and a pier where you can catch crabs, lobsters, and fish. The park has Wi-Fi access points.
Visitors can get into the swing of things right away by joining a group class led by a certified dance teacher. Other classes offered include basic bicycle maintenance, introduction to horses, introduction to polo, and private tennis lessons. There is a campground with sites ranging from modern to primitive. Each site comes equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. Water and electric sites are 30amp hookups, and non-electric sites feature 20amp hookups. Restrooms facilities including hot showers are provided throughout the campground. Campsites open in March and close in October. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are available on a first come first served basis.
The park hosts an annual conference each fall to highlight some of the best practices being used across the country in managing urban parks. Presentations and workshops cover diverse topics such as historical perspectives, environmental stewardship, strategic planning, citizen engagement, adaptive management, conservation financing, and legislative updates. Over 700 attendees usually attend. The Friends of Parks organization holds periodic volunteer events at the park, including cleanups and festivals. These events help keep the park in excellent condition and allow volunteers to become familiar with the park’s resources. Every Labor Day weekend, the park plays host to the annual Three Mile Island Music Festival. More than 40 bands play over five days, attracting crowds of thousands of music lovers. Proceeds benefit Three Mile Island State Park.
Florida state parks are open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays). Admission is $6 per vehicle, and $5 to use the parking lot. Active military (with ID) are discounted to $4 per person. Annual passes can be purchased at the park office. Horse rentals are available during certain times of the year. Boat slips rent for $20 per night. Campsites range from modern to rustic, and prices vary depending upon the type of site. Prices are higher for premium tent sites and yurts. Tent and RV sites with utilities are around $15 per night; these sites will accommodate anything from single tents to large motor homes. Cabin sites with utilities cost $11 per night; cabins without electricity cost $16 per night. Group Camp consists of a 2 group barracks and 10 individual sites, accommodating approximately 80 people. Each site has a picnic table and grill, along with fire pit and lantern holder. Bathhouse and dump station are centrally located in the group camp, which is otherwise self-contained. Two officers’ quarters are available for rental, complete with four bedrooms, bath, kitchen and laundry room.
Activities available at the park include:
- paddle boarding
Animals and birds observed at the park include:
- eastern gray squirrels
- wild turkeys
- garter snakes
- carolina anoles
- pileated woodpeckers
- barred owls
- pileated woodpeckers
- red-shouldered hawks
- ring-necked ducks
- belted kingfishers
- brown creepers
- drum fish
- spanish mackerel
- conger eels
- striped bass
Common plants here include:
- saw palmetto
- turkey oaks