Port Charlotte Beach
Port Charlotte Beach along the Peace River is highlighted by its beach complex, which features a beach club with boat ramp, a very long fishing pier, barbecue grills, a pool and sporting activities such as tennis, volleyball, basketball and horseshoes.
The white sand along the river provides a perfect place to lay in the sun and soak up some rays. The Charlotte County park complex also features a public swimming pool and a snack bar.
Boca Grande beach.
Across the harbor from the beach complex you will see the quaint shops and tantalizing restaurants - and the boats - of Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda.
Boca Grande Beach
The Boca Grande Public Beach is often compared to Caribbean beaches and attracts beach-goers from around the world.
The State of Florida charges a $2 admission fee.
At the beach is the famous Boca Grande Lighthouse and the Lighthouse Museum, which features a look back not only at Boca Grande but the reason for the lighthouse in the first place.
From your lounge chair in the bleached-white sands, you can spot exquisite seashells and watch dolphins swim and jump freely through the lightest of green waters. The best beaches are at the far south end of Gasparilla Island, located along Gasparilla Road.
They're worth a visit, as is Amory Chapel, one of the first churches in this area. It has been restored by local residents and many functions are held there oceanside.
Gasparilla Island is located in both Charlotte and Lee counties, but the state park beach is in Lee County at the south end. If you use a public access way to the Gulf of Mexico or the bay, please respect private property rights. Lee County cleans and maintains the rights-of-way.
In downtown Punta Gorda, this waterfront area offers places to sit and watch the boats go by. You can also suntan, but as far as sand, it's not here.
(Check the playground at Gilchrist Park, other side of U.S. Highway 41.) Laishley is a waterfront area and still attracts many seekers of rays.
Beautiful Englewood Beach is located on the Gulf of Mexico near the Charlotte and Sarasota County line in the city of Englewood. Here beach-goers will find great warm sand and wild sea oats growing along the dunes. A path leads to a more secluded white-sand beach that exposes trees, vegetation and wildlife.
The county has undertaken extensive renovations to modernize the facility and upgrade it to world-class resort status with many amenities.
The county-owned beach is the largest for miles around and is popular among tourists as well as visitors.
Chadwick Beach is a must for beach-lovers. Ample parking is provided, but beach-goers must pay a modest parking charge on the "honor" system.
Stump Pass Beach
Another popular Charlotte beach is Stump Pass Beach. At Stump Pass Beach, the most popular activity is just walking in the sand and the clear water, but the shallow bay side is also popular, and visitors can see many shorebirds among the mangroves.
Water lovers also can get to Stump Pass Beach via boat or personal watercraft. Water skiing is another popular sport on the bay side in "Ski Alley."
Stump Pass is part of the Gasparilla Island state park system. Call (941) 964-0375.
How to get there:
Boca Grande Beach, Gasparilla Boulevard, SR 776
Englewood Beach, SR 776, I-75 Exit 167 or 170
Port Charlotte Beach, From I-75, Exit 167
Stump Pass, SR 776, I-75 Exit 167 or 170
* 4500 Harbor Blvd., Port Charlotte
On the Peace River, offers basketball, BBQ grills, boat ramps, boccie, canoe/kayak, fishing, horseshoes, picnic shelters/pavilion rentals, picnicking, playground, recreation building, restrooms/Port-O-Lets, room rentals, swimming pool/beach, tennis courts, volleyball courts.
Parking: 75 cents per hour, annual parking passes available.
Room rental starts at $31.25-$50 per hour for seven tables/60 chairs.
* Englewood Beach/Chadwick Park
On the Gulf of Mexico
2100 North Beach Road, Englewood
Facilities: Basketball, barbecue grills, fishing, horseshoes, picnic shelters/pavilion rentals, picnicking, playground, restrooms/Port-O-Lets, swimming pool/beach, volleyball courts.
Parking: 75 cents per hour.
Pavilion rental: $10 per hour up to 48 people capacity; $20 per hour for up to 128 for private and non-profit. For commercial use the rate is double.
*Boca Grande Public Beach
At the south end of Gasparilla Island
Boca Grande Lighthouse and Lighthouse Museum are located there.
Admission to the beach: $2 charged by State of Florida
Other beaches are along Gasparilla Road, also at the southern tip.
* Stump Pass Beach
Go across Tom Adams Bridge to reach the southern tip of Manasota Key. Sea shells and shark teeth are found there and fishing is abundant. A hiking trail goes through wildlife habitat. For Information about Stump Pass Beach State Park: (941)964-0375. Admission: $2 for up to eight people per vehicle.
Sources: Lee and Charlotte County