Hurricane Ian makes landfall at Cayo Costa. What to know about the Florida location

Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon at Cayo Costa.

Where is that? And what is the island known for?

Cayo Costa is in Lee County, in Southwest Florida, and best known as home to a state park. The eight-mile-long Cayo Costa is six miles north of the better known Captiva Island near Fort Myers.

There are no condos or Starbucks. Anchoring the island is Cayo Costa State Park.

Florida Rambler describes Cayo Costa as a wild beach on a remote island. And now it’s known as where Hurricane Ian came ashore.

About the island

The Florida park describes the island this way:

An unspoiled Gulf Coast island evokes images of wind-shaped trees, dunes, beaches and freedom to explore. This especially rings true for Cayo Costa Island.

Accessible only by boat or kayak, this former fishing ground of the Calusa Indians features 9 miles of undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, bird-watching and exploration along with several walking and bicycling trails through the island’s interior. Shorebirds are numerous, and one might spot manatees, porpoises and sea turtles offshore.

Cayo Costa island.
Cayo Costa island.

Why people go there

Excerpts from a Miami Herald travel article on Cayo Costa in 1987:

On Cayo Costa, one of Florida’s largest undisturbed barriers islands, it’s the call to the wilds for pleasure boaters and nature lovers.

The park’s campgrounds and 12 primitive cabins soon will be filled; the island’s docks and coves will become busy with water traffic.

“We’re booked solid weekends starting Oct. 1,” said park officer Andy Cotellis. “Could be the opening up on redfish, I don’t know.”

Beach bounty thrives year-round on Cayo Costa, but it’s hard to reach. Accessible only by boat, there’s plenty of quiet tropical splendor to go around on this seven-mile-long island, even during the busiest of seasons.

Although Cayo Costa is only 12 miles west of Cape Coral in Lee County — and is just south of Boca Grande — the island is beyond easy reach of the masses and is outside the realm of electricity, telephones, water lines and mosquito control.

“You don’t want to go near there in summer — the bugs, the heat,” said local fisherman Ray Garhartt.

“We’re waiting till the bugs clear out and it cools off,” said Fort Myers pediatrician Dr. Keith Derco, who plans a family outing later this month.

Like most Southwest Florida recreation areas, Cayo Costa is popular as a weekend getaway for locals. In cooler months, out- of-state visitors set up camp or cabin for weeks at a time.

Already, park cabins are booked for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, said Mickey McGrath, administrative assistant in the District VI office of the Florida Department of Natural Resources Division of Recreation and Parks.

“Now through January and February, we get more visitors from the Central and Eastern states. And they stay longer,” McGrath said.