Cayo Costa State Park is a Florida State Park on Cayo Costa , which is directly south of Boca Grande , 12 miles west of Cape Coral and just north of North Captiva Island. The park is accessible only by charter boat , private boat, ferry or helicopter. Exploration of the New World by Spaniards brought traders to the west coast of Florida to barter with the Indians as early as the 17th century. In their wake came men who started fish ranches on the out islands like Cayo Costa before Florida was opened to American settlers. In the 1870s, Tervio Padilla, a wealthy merchant from the Canary Islands, came to Key West and established trade with natives and “ranchos” that extended northward to Charlotte Harbor. His ships often made port at Cayo Costa at the entrance to the harbor. Enchanted by the tropical island, he eventually decided to settle there. Padilla prospered until the outbreak of the Spanish–American War when his fleet was burned and scuttled. He then turned to another means of livelihood – fishing. When the government claimed his land he was disinclined to set up another ranch so moved with his wife further down the island and as before, simply homesteaded. For many years Charlotte Harbor locals referred to the Island as "Padilla Rancho" or Padilla Ranch although Mr. Padilla only occupied one part of the Island at a time. Most Padilla descendants now reside in nearby Bokeelia or Boca Grande.
Cayo Costa Island is one of a chain of barrier islands that shelter Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. The park contains nine miles of soft white sandy beaches and 2,506 acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, and mangrove swamps.
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