Nestled on five islands, Fort De Soto Park boasts a 3-mile white-sand beach and offers a variety of recreational activities including swimming, sunbathing, shelling, canoeing, kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, and wildlife watching. There are campsites and hotels nearby so you can stay for more than one day.
This place was named “The Nation’s #1 Beach” by Dr. Beach in 2005, “America’s Top Beach” by TripAdvisor in 2009, and “Best Beach for Families” by USA Today in 2014. If you’re traveling in this area, Fort De Soto is a must-visit!
Location and Access
You can find Fort De Soto Park at 3500 Pinellas Bayway S. in Tierra Verde, Florida. There is a huge parking lot. The entry fee is $5 and already includes the parking fee. The park’s area is wheelchair-friendly.
The park has restrooms, showers, food concessions, children’s playgrounds, fishing piers, souvenir shops, and shaded pavilions with picnic tables.
The park features two beaches: North Beach and East Beach. Both present long narrow strips of sand stretching till the far ends of the island. These beaches offer a great opportunity to relax in a calm and quiet atmosphere.
The sand is fine, pure white, and hard-packed. There are umbrellas and chairs for rent. The clear, calm waters of Fort De Soto are great for swimming and very kid-friendly. At the far end of North Beach, there is a natural sandbar acting as a lagoon-like pool for children. The channel is shallow and has a slow current. There are lifeguards on duty. Note that sometimes the water gets murky and can be not so good for snorkeling.
There are nature trails for hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. There is also a 2.25-mile paddling trail. You can rent bikes, canoes, and kayaks on site. You can also fish off the two free piers, Gulf-side and Bay-side, which have food and bait concessions (7 a.m. to 11 p.m.). The park provides nice opportunities for RV and tent camping – there is a large camping area with facilities.
Nature lovers will get a lasting impression of their visit to Fort De Soto Park – the park’s natural beauty is abundant in all its forms including sea life, wildlife, birdlife, and plant life. Ornithologists have documented more than 320 species of birds. The beach is popular not only with tourists but also with the loggerhead sea turtle, which nests between April and September. You should visit in this period to get a chance to see little hatchlings making their way to the sea.
Pets are allowed on a leash. There is also a dog park where handlers are permitted to unleash their pets.
- 45 minutes from Tampa, FL
- 2 hours 10 minutes from Fort Myers, FL
- 2 hours 10 minutes from Orlando, FL
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Fort De Soto Park Beach which you can visit: