Pine Island Fruit Market Gets Better Each Year

by BeachHunter on June 20, 2014

Today we made our annual trip to Pine Island for mangoes. Unfortunately, 2014 has turned out to be a poor mango season. There is not a lot of fruit and it is about three weeks late. Nevertheless we still had fun and came home with some yummy fruit: a few mangoes, coconuts, tamarind, and five pounds of lychee fruit. We also bought some honey that was made from black mangrove flowers. Most likely we’ll be making another fruit run next month.

See the rest of my articles on Pine Island and the Pine Island Fruit Market.

Some info on how to get to the Pine Island Fruit Market.

The Pine Island Fruit Market continues to develop their fruit groves. Not only do they sell fresh fruit, honey, marmalades, and chutney, they also sell fruit trees. We toured their nursery today and I found all of their trees to be very healthy and well cared for. Further down the page I’ll post a list of fruit they sell and a price list.

Fruit trees available at Pine Island Fruit Market groves.

Fruit trees available at Pine Island Fruit Market groves.

Price list for fruit trees at Pine Island Fruit Market groves.

Price list for fruit trees at Pine Island Fruit Market groves.

See the rest of my articles on Pine Island and the Pine Island Fruit Market.

Some info on how to get to the Pine Island Fruit Market.




Sea Turtle Bones can Stump Beachcombers

by BeachHunter on June 17, 2014

Finding unusual things on the beach can be a real challenge. This photo was recently shared on my FloridaBeachhunter Facebook page. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but I could see that it resembled part of a sea turtle shell. Still it looked really odd. A quick Google search for photos of sea turtle bones revealed that it is indeed part of the shell of a sea turtle, though I don’t know what species. Click the link/image above to see more of the Facebook post.

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Barefoot Beach County Park

This is the beach at Barefoot Beach County Park as viewed from Wiggins Pass State Park, looking north.

During last summer’s beach guide update tour, Barefoot Beach was one of the public beach facilities that impressed me the most. Clean, green, quiet, and more than a mile of undeveloped beach on the north side of Wiggins Pass make this a perfect spot for a day at the beach.

I’m not surprised to see that Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, has moved this beach from the number six spot on his top ten list in 2013, to the number 2 spot in 2014.

Sure, all beaches in this part of Florida are fantastic, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. So I’ll tell you a bit about Barefoot Beach and why it’s a different experience.

First, how to get there. You can either drive south from Ft. Myers Beach to Bonita Beach, and follow Bonita Beach Road to Barefoot Beach Blvd., or from Interstate 75, you can take exit 116, Bonita Beach Road (865), west through Bonita Springs to Barefoot Beach Blvd. Turn south on Barefoot Beach Boulevard–there is a traffic light–then drive past the guardhouse in the gated Barefoot Preserve community. It’s about a mile to the park, so take your time and enjoy the beautiful homes, the giant Royal palms, and the tropical landscaping.

The official address of the park is: 505 Barefoot Beach Blvd, North Naples, FL 34134

It’s a little hard to believe that there’s a beach park waiting for you at the end of the brick  road, but there is.

Barefoot Beach Road

Driving through the Barefoot Preserve luxury homes on the way to the beach park.

Typical Barefoot Preserve home.

This is a typical home in the Barefoot Preserve neighborhood.

After  driving a mile on the brick road you’ll come to  another much less grand guardhouse, which is the entrance to the County park known as Barefoot Beach. Pay your entrance fee and you’re in! There are three separate parking areas. The main restrooms and concession are located at the first parking area.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that Barefoot Beach is very well maintained and the facilities are outstanding, largely thanks to a volunteer citizen support organization called Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve. You’ll probably encounter volunteers working in the park to keep it beautiful. Stop for a few moments to enjoy the butterfly garden, and watch out for Gopher tortoises crossing the road!

One of the most noticeable features in this park is the nature center, built and maintained by the Friends organization. It’s a place for classes and lectures and hands-on discoveries using exhibits and various natural specimens found in the park. Kid of all ages will find it interesting, and it’s a good way to get out of the sun for a few minutes.

An extensive system of boardwalks leads through the thick vegetation along and to the beach. Rinse-off showers are located on the shady boardwalk.

This park has over 8,000 feet of Gulf beach with white / light brown sand ending at Wiggins Pass.  The park is completely undeveloped, and the road does not go all the way to the southern end of the beach. This means that if you want to go all the way to Wiggins Pass, you’ll have to either walk on the beach or on the nature trail in the woods above the beach. It’s a beautiful, quiet walk, whichever route you take.

Get my ultimate Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide to get the details on all the beaches and islands of Florida’s lower Gulf coast.

Boardwalk to Barefoot Beach Preserve.

Boardwalk to Barefoot Beach Preserve.


Important Things to Know About Barefoot Beach

There are no lifeguards on duty, so conduct yourself accordingly.

Food and beach equipment concessions have limited summer hours, usually just open on weekends. During the season they are open every day.

Special beach wheelchairs are available for anyone with mobility challenges.

To get to the more secluded beaches in the park, drive all the way south to the unpaved loop road at parking area #3. From there you can walk even further south on the beach as far as you like.

Don’t confuse Lely Barefoot Beach with Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park. Lely Barefoot Beach is adjacent to Bonita Beach Park, which is the main public beach access in Bonita Beach. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park is further south toward Wiggins Pass.

Accommodations in the immediate area are slim. There are no resorts or large hotels along Bonita Beach. There are some rental condos and beach houses on Bonita Beach, but nothing near or inside the Barefoot Preserve Park.  There is a mom & pop style motel at the northern end of Bonita Beach called the Bonita Beach Resort Motel. There are several clean and modern chain hotels in Bonita Springs along Bonita Beach Road (865) between Interstate 75 and Bonita Beach. There are plenty of places to eat, including seafood restaurants, on Bonita Beach Road.

The park has nature trails and kayak/canoe launch areas which give access to the backwater areas.

Don’t plan your beach vacation without my Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide where you’ll get more info about Bonita Beach beaches and more than 100 other beaches on Florida’s lower Gulf coast.

Nature You’ll Encounter at Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park Beach

Gopher tortoises make the park their home and you’ll see plenty of them. Just remember that they are land tortoises–they cannot swim–so don’t mistake them for sea turtles!

Ospreys are constantly soaring overhead with fish in their talons. They make a lot of noise, as to the gulls and terns that hang out near the beach. Long-legged wading birds and pelicans are permanent residents in the park. Migrant bird species can be seen in the spring and fall.

Sea turtles engage in nesting activities all summer, but are generally active at night, so don’t expect to see any, although you may find empty turtle egg shells on the beach where they have hatched during the night.

Dolphins can be seen in the water all year, and Manatees come into the Gulf and swim near the beaches from about April through the first serious cold snaps.

Many plant species live above the beach and a self-guided nature trail will introduce you to many of them.


Check out the Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve website for information on ranger guided canoe trips, Saturday morning lectures, and special programs for children.

Visit the official Collier County website for details about Barefoot Beach Preserve.

Click image  to go directly to Google Maps.

Click image to go directly to Google Maps.

Have a look at Barefoot Beach from an aerial drone:

Need help choosing a Florida beach? Get my Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide and get a detailed comparison with pros and cons of each island and beach access. Learn about surfing spots, snorkeling, fishing jetties and piers, water temperatures, weather, secluded beaches, beaches you can only get to by boat, most popular beaches, dog beaches, where to find shells and shark’s teeth and much more. Get it now!


Fresh fried grouper at the Tide Tables Restaurant in Cortez, Florida

I ordered the “low-tide” size (smaller portion) of fried grouper, which came with homemade cole slaw and some of the best BBQ beans I’ve ever had.

The Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina opened its doors in February 2014 in the historic fishing village of Cortez, Florida. It (and its patrons) sit right on the water and enjoy the sea breezes while eating fish that is literally right off the boat. What else would you expect in Cortez?

I took mom to the Tide Tables for Mother’s Day lunch and it didn’t disappoint. She got the fish tacos (which surprised me) and I ordered fried grouper. The fish tacos were very highly seasoned, a bit spicy even without extra sauce, and were just a bit too salty for my taste. But Mom didn’t find them too salty and really chowed down on them.

Tacos at Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina

Fish tacos at the Tide Tables Restaurant & Marina in Cortez, FL.

The grouper was absolutely fresh and sweet. It may seem odd, but it can be hard to find truly fresh fish in a Florida seafood restaurant.  You have to know where to go: Tide Tables. The grouper was so moist and fresh I almost hated to put the tartar sauce on it, and didn’t–until the last few bites.

Outdoor bar at the Tide Tables Restaurant in Cortez, FL

By 3 o’clock the crowd had thinned out, so I snapped this photo of the bar on the deck.

While we were eating, a fishing charter boat brought in a mess of fresh-caught grouper to the small marina while a fisherman launched his kayak from the small launch ramp next to the restaurant’s deck. Our table–all the tables, actually–overlooked the bay and the bridge to Bradenton Beach.

There’s no shortage of elbow room at the bars at Tide Tables. As much space is devoted to drinking as it is to eating. It’s a social place where folks hang out a while and visit.

Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina in Cortez, Florida.

This is the front entrance of the Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina in Cortez, Florida. But don’t think you have to go in the front door. Mosey on around back and find a table, or belly up to the bar.

I’m not going to write a full review of the restaurant–I’m no restaurant critic–but I’ll put some links below to help you get more info, reviews and all that. And for God’s sake, if you have questions, call the restaurant, don’t send me an email ’cause I don’t have the answers!  Tide Tables Restaurant phone number —> 941-567-6206

It’s a very casual place. You’ll be seated at picnic tables–inside or outside–and you’ll eat with plastic forks and spoons. So it’s OK if you show up in your bathing suit. But wrap a towel around yourself, or something.

Tide Tables Restaurant view from the docks.

Tide Tables Restaurant is right on the bay waters.

Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina  has a pretty bare bones website right now but it has all the info you need. If you want to be “internet social” you can check out their Facebook page at

There was a nice write-up in the local mullet-wrapper about the Tide Tables Restaurant if you want to know all about the local owners and their story. So you can be an educated diner.

Or check out some reviews on TripAdvisor or on Yelp.

You probably want to see a menu and prices, right? I’ve got you covered on that. Just remember that menus and prices change and these pictures were taken in May 2014.

Tide Tables Restaurant Menu and prices, page 1

Menu for Tide Tables Restaurant, Cortez, FL


Where is Tide Tables Restaurant?

It’s on the south side of Cortez Road just before you go over the bridge to Anna Maria Island and Bradenton Beach. Get the address off of their website (linked above).

Google Map to Tide Tables Restaurant in Cortez, FL

Click the map to go directly to Google Maps. Red “X” marks the restaurant location.


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Shark stories make great headline stories on TV and on the internet, but what is the actual risk that YOU will be the unlucky one that a shark will target? Watch the video and find out.


BeachHunter’s Florida Beaches Website Takes on a New Look

April 18, 2014

I’ve been working hard to make more user-friendly with better drop-down menu navigation and more consistent design throughout. It is still a work in progress. I’ve also tried to make it more visually appealing. Since BeachHunter first went online in 2005, more than three million people have visited the site while planning their beach [...]

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Drones: Coming to a Beach Near You

April 8, 2014

FOX 13 News It was only a matter of time before this issue came up.  A local news channel recently did a short story on a confrontation on the beach regarding the flying of a drone with a camera on Treasure Island Beach. Video above. (If the video above doesn’t display properly, here’s a link [...]

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Tips for Avoiding Crime on Florida Beaches

March 16, 2014

Most Florida islands and beaches are very low crime areas. Some have nearly zero crime. I’ve always felt safer at the beach than in any other location. Still, property theft, inappropriate behavior and physical violence can happen at the beach, so you need to know how to avoid it. Property Theft Most crime at the [...]

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Yoga With Elin on Venice Beach: Website Critique

February 12, 2014

If you go to Venice Beach, Florida any morning around 8 am you’ll find a large group of people doing yoga right out on the beach. In the sand. On their yoga mats. Now, I’ve seen yoga on the beach plenty of times, but this was the largest group I’d ever seen. Of course free [...]

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New Feature on Beach Website Critiques

February 12, 2014

A lot of folks have a look around my website and blog and think I spend all my time at the beach. I wish. I actually spend quite a bit of time on the computer, writing and editing photos and video, and researching. I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on my own websites [...]

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