St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park is a state park located on the northeastern tip of Captiva Island, in North Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The park contains over 2,400 acres (9km2) of mangroves and sand dunes with an average elevation of more than 40 feet above sea level. It is accessible by boat or ferry from downtown Fort Myers, and has three separate trails for bicycles, pedestrians, and horses. it also hosts birding events throughout the year.
Visitors can explore four distinct trail systems including beach, wooded, bayhead, and loop. There are twelve primitive campsites, each accommodating up to five people, two equestrian campgrounds, and a youth group tenting area. Amenities include beaches, bike paths, boardwalks, picnic areas, playgrounds, horseshoe courts, volleyball court, and a disc golf course. Guests may enjoy a kayak or paddleboard session at Kayak Flaming Gorge, which features guided tours of the upper parts of the gorge twice daily, Friday – Sunday, April through October.
Access to the preserve’s main entrance is via Causeway Boulevard, across from the post office, near Lee County Regional Airport. To get there from Interstate 75, take Exit 231B (Beachline Highway South), then merge onto Causeway Blvd. and follow it past the toll plaza into town. At the first traffic light, turn left onto SR A1A O’Brien Street, followed shortly after by a right turn onto Bay City Road. After about one mile, you will see the entrance to the park on your left. The park offers several parking lots, but most of them are full on any given day. As a result, visitors have been known to leave their vehicles along the side of the road in order to secure a parking space. This practice creates a hazard for drivers using this part of the highway, since there are no signs warning of dangerous conditions ahead.
According to legend, pirate treasure is buried somewhere within the park, though so far nothing of value has been found. Treasure hunters use metal detecting equipment to search for the loot, which they believe is hidden somewhere inside the park. However, according to multiple local news reports, the U.S. Coast Guard has informed treasure hunting companies that the site is not worth pursuing, due to the fact that the land containing the park was once owned by William Williams, who paid pirates to rob his own ship. Despite this, locals continue to claim that gold coins and jewelry still lie scattered around the park.
One particularly popular spot is behind the old Seagrape Elementary School, where some say a chest full of Spanish doubloons lies buried. Another reported finding claimed to be a “Spanish coin hoard” valued at $8 million US; however, when excavated, the team responsible for the discovery proved to contain mostly Mexican pesos. Still another reportedly finds a pearl necklace belonging to Amelia Earhart, though its authenticity has yet to be confirmed.
- horseback riding
- wildlife viewing
In addition to wildlife typical of a coastal environment such as:
- gopher tortoises
- white-tailed deer
- marsh rabbits
- river otter