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Florida Coastal Access Guide - Charlotte County at a Glance Quicklinks

Charlotte at a Glance

Coastal Cities
Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Murdock, Englewood, El Jobean; Manasota Key, Cape Haze, Placida
Popular Spot Don Pedro Island State Park
Sandy Beaches 12 miles
Public Accesses 9
Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail 7 sites
State Parks & Lands Acres
Babcock Ranch Preserve 73,239
Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve (Lee) 11,000
Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area (Lee) 80,335
Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve (Lee) 80,000
Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve (Sarasota) 8,000
Lower Peace River Corridor De Soto 2,050
Prairie/Shell Creek 610
Yucca Pens State Wildlife Management Area (Lee) 14,577
Charlotte Harbor Preserve (Lee) 43,388
Don Pedro Island State Park 230
Stump Pass Beach State Park 227
Federal Lands Acres
Island Bay National Wildlife Reserve 20
Bays & Inlets
Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, Charlotte Bay
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Myakka River, Trout Creek, Peace River, Shell Creek, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail

Charlotte County, named for Britain's Queen Charlotte Sophia, is a diverse landscape of small cities and barrier islands that, along with Lee County, encircle 270-square-mile Charlotte Harbor. Its shoreline (mostly in conservation) encompasses inlets, a mangrove-lined aquatic preserve, the Peace and Myakka rivers and 28 miles of beach.

Punta Gorda (the county's oldest city) has restored 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places including two historic districts, a trolley, brick streets lined with royal palms, wide-veranda tin-roofed homes, cafes, art galleries, shops and boutiques.

Port Charlotte burgeons with theatres, marinas, yacht clubs, golf courses, tennis courts, parks, a stadium, historic and cultural arts centers and over 165 miles of man-made waterways—many access the harbor.

Don Pedro Island State Park, a 230-acre barrier island between Little Gasparilla Island and Knight Island accessible only by boat or ferry, has a fishing dock, nature trails, restrooms and picnic pavilions, but no camping. The bay side is lined with mangroves; the gulf side a mile of white sand beach.

Three miles south by bridge over Lemon Bay, Stump Pass State Park offers 1.7 miles of beach on southern Manasota Key. It features numerous activities including ranger-led nature walks to view sea turtles, manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, least terns and magnificent frigate birds. Mangrove swamps surround the park's other three islands (Peterson, Whidden, and Little Whidden Key) in Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Local parks, Port Charlotte Beach Park and Englewood Beach, offer miles of beaches and natural recreation as well as a boardwalk, sand volleyball, fishing pier and a swimming pool.

Charlotte Harbor envelops five aquatic preserves: Lemon Bay, Gasparilla Sound/Charlotte Harbor, Cape Haze, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass–submerged lands that provide sanctuary to bird rookeries, fish nurseries, salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests.

Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve surrounds Stump Pass Beach State Park and Don Pedro Island State Park. Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve is part of the greater Gasparilla Sound - Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve, the largest and deepest of the five preserves. Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, the fourth largest state park, is a sanctuary for mangrove forests, shallow seagrass meadows and an abundance of marine life. Six miles of trails are marked for hiking, fishing, paddling and observing wildlife. The Peace and Myakka rivers flow into Charlotte Harbor, mixing fresh and salt water. The other two aquatic preserves in this system, Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve and Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve, are in Lee County.

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Last updated: October 29, 2015

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