Vanderbilt Beach, Florida

The Vanderbilt Beach area of Naples is just south of Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park and north of Clam Pass County Park. Between the two parks Gulf shore is lined with tall condominiums. Beach accesses are few and far between, but there are three main public beach accesses. One access is at the County Park at the end of Vanderbilt Beach Road (862). But you have to arrive early to get a spot.

Delnor Wiggins Pass Beach State Park, Florida.

Delnor Wiggins State Park Beach looking toward Vanderbilt Beach, Park Shore, and Naples.

The other two public access points are at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park and Clam Pass County Park. Delnor-Wiggins is the most visited state park in southwest Florida and parking is a real issue. When the parking area fills up the park gates are closed. This happens frequently during good beach weather and on weekends. Arrive early.

You really have to know all the accesses to find parking and optimize your time at the beach.

Wiggins Pass at Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park, Florida.

Delnor Wiggins pass is small and quiet. On the other side is Barefoot Beach Preserve.

Observation Tower at Delnor Wiggins Park.

The observation tower at Wiggins Pass.

View from observation tower at Delnor Wiggins Park.

The tower isn't quite tall enough to clear the trees and give a good view.

Delnor-Wiggins State Park is heavily wooded with plenty of shaded picnic tables all along the beach. Restroom facilities are spaced conveniently along the beach front. A nature trail leads to an observation tower that puts you above the small oaks and cabbage palms and mangroves. Unfortunately it is about 10 feet too short to give a good view of the Gulf of Mexico.

From the north end of the parking area it's a fairly short walk to Wiggins Pass which has no jetty or other armoring. It's a natural inlet.

The down side to Delnor Wiggins is that it fills up fairly quickly. When that happens the park gates are closed. Get there early.

Picnic tables on the beach under seagrape trees, Delnor Wiggins Park.

Picnic tables on the beach under the seagrape trees on Delnor Wiggins State Park Beach. There are many picnic tables just behind the dunes in wooded, shaded areas all along the beach. But arrive early if you want the choice tables.

Vanderbilt Beach County Park access.

Vanderbilt Beach County Park beach access is between Delnor Wiggins Pass and Clam Pass.

Vanderbilt Beach has a County beach access set between the tall condominiums that dominate Vanderbilt Beach. It's a very popular access with metered street parking and a paid parking garage. There is a drop-off parking area next to the beach where you can pull in and unload gear and the park offers restrooms and rinse-off showers. It's a nice beach access for locals, but not really a destination, given the other accesses nearby.

Vanderbilt Beach, Florida Gulf Coast

Beach scene at Vanderbilt County Park.

Clam Pass County Park beach, Naples, Florida.

Clam Pass County Park beach looking south toward Park Shore.

Clam Pass is a top-notch beach experience. A shallow backwater runs through the park's thick mangroves and emerges a mile up the beach, flowing into the clean waters of the Gulf at Clam Pass.  Kayak rentals are available and a kayak launch provides access to the public.

The beach is half-a-mile away and is reached via a wide boardwalk through shady mangroves. Lot's of people walk all the way to the beach, but a motorized tram runs continuously between the parking lot and the beach.

Once out on the beach there is an excellent snack bar and beach vendors who rent all the necessities to visitors.  Most of the park is an undeveloped preserve. The pass itself is shallow and narrow, but the current is strong when the tide is moving, so exercise caution.

On the other side of the pass is the private beach facility of the Pelican Bay community.

Is fishing good in the pass? You bet!

Quiet morning at Clam Pass, Naples, Florida.

Clam Pass is probably the smallest inlet in Florida.

Family enjoying Clam Pass beach, Naples, Florida.

Clam Pass. Beach facilities on the other side of the pass are private and belong to the Pelican Bay community.

Park Shore beaches of Naples, Florida.

Park Shore area of Naples. There are several small public beach access points in the Park Shore area between the condominiums.

Boarding the tram to Clam Pass beach.

Boarding the tram to the beach at Clam Pass.

Riding the tram through the mangroves to Clam Pass beach, Naples, Florida.

Riding the tram through the mangroves to Clam Pass Beach.

Waldorf Astoria at Clam Pass, Naples, Florida.

The Waldorf Astoria sits just outside Clam Pass Park and handles the park vending and snack bar facilities.

Copyright: David McRee,