THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
Matlacha, FLORIDA
73 Reviews 88 Campgrounds
Retrieving Results
EXPLORE
Most Recent Matlacha Camping Reviews
RANGER REVIEW: PRIMUS LITE+ STOVE AT BOW-TIE ISLAND PRIMITIVE CAMPSITE

RANGER REVIEW: PRIMUS LITE+ 'ALL IN ONE GAS STOVE' AT BOW-TIE ISLAND PRIMITIVE CAMPSITE, ESTERO BAY, FLORIDA

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: When it comes to "camping," often people immediately think of hiking, backpacking or traveling by car to a campground or campsite. But throughout North America (U.S. and Canada) paddling your way to a campsite often leads to greater solitude. Another distinct advantage to paddle camping… unless multiple, long portages are involved…you can carry luxuries and more of them with greater ease.

On this journey, I chose to paddle six miles North from home, along the Great Calusa Blueway-Estero Bay, to Bowtie Island Primitive Campsite. (GPS: N26 22 35 W81 51 13)  Of note: The Great Calusa Blueway has over 190 miles of intercoastal waterway paddling trails with several barrier island primitive campsites.  https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/media/30166/phase-1-update-9-05-17-proof.pdf . On this pdf you see number 11  for Bow-tie Island and the primitive campsite on the southeast portion of that mangrove island. If you are traveling the Blueway south, Bow-tie Island is to the east of marker 9. Paddle to the southeast corner and you will locate a narrow trail that leads to the campsite. It is first come=first served…no reservation system exists presently, nor is there an informational phone number.  Bonus: It's free  

Most of the paddling hugs mangrove islands in this area, with a few larger open-water crossings. Be very alert, as power boaters tend to be less than gracious with their kayak swamping wake as they fly by.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

⦁ Solitude- you will likely have this small mangrove island to yourself

⦁ It is a primitive campsite

-No potable water (bring all the water you need for hydration and cooking)

-No electricity (plenty of sunshine for solar chargers)

-No facilities (Leave No Trace-pack out everything)

-No internet (There is strong cell signal present)

-No lights (Stargazing is incredible on clear nights, but bring illumination)

-No picnic table

⦁ Bring mosquito repellent (do not forget this!)

⦁ Bring sunscreen 

The campsite is not openly obvious, even to those that boat and fish the area often…I startled a boat of fisherman as I dragged my kayak out of the mangroves. At the time I stayed, the east side "beach" entrance was blocked by a large, wayward uprooted tree that was washed up. So the only other trail opening is on the southeastern side. I would estimate that trail to the cleared camping area, a 50 foot walk.

There is no signage visible when on the water. Near the "blocked" eastern beach entrance is a small Calusa Blueway placard indicating Bow-tie Island Primitive Camping area.

The cleared campsite area is large enough and flat enough for possibly two 2-man tents. I used a 3-man tent and had ample room for a hammock and chair. This is a mangrove island that is comprised of broken shell, so bring that tent footprint to save your tent floor. Though there was a fire ring comprised of a dozen rocks, I did not brave the outside from dusk to daybreak, as the mosquitoes were savage…and I just so happened to have forgotten my repellent. Mangroves are fairly dense, so you don't get a strong enough breeze to keep the bugs away.

During the winter months (Dec-May), you will hear some road noise from the nearby beach roadway (depending on the wind direction)…but it is sporadic at night (I do sleep with earplugs) and didn't bother me. Power boat traffic is quite heavy during winter months also…and noise travels on the water…but there was no boat traffic during the night.

If you don't bring it…you won't have it…and you can't get it…no stores within five paddling miles (and some walking) or on the water in this area. There is a marina just south of Big Hickory Island that has a nice restaurant, and there is a hotel restaurant on the north end of Lover's Key…but not simple 10 minute jaunts.

Fishing is great, for both sport and meals…just make sure you get a license. Big Hickory Island and Lover's Key have beautiful beaches to enjoy a short paddle west…via New Pass. I'm not suggesting that you paddle over to the Lover's Key State Park restrooms to enjoy modern facilities…but its only a 20 minute paddle. Mound Key Archaeological Site is a close paddle in Estero Bay…and Koreshan State Park is a further paddle up Estero River on the mainland. If you paddle south, 3+ miles, you can dock at Coconut Jack's restaurant along Bonita Beach Road and enjoy incredible seafood meals.

Check the weather forecast when boating…and continue to check it, as SW FL weather can change rapidly. Winter months see sparse rain, but nights can get downright chilly. Summer months are gloriously hot, but from June through October it usually rains each afternoon…and when I say rain…I mean torrential deluge. I thoroughly enjoy paddling in rain storms, but in Florida, "the lightning capital of the world," I would advise against it.

Consider the challenge of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and its island primitive campsites.

Note: I contacted State of Florida Parks, FWC, County Parks/Recreation and City of Bonita Springs…and each one deferred to the other. Biggest concern will be where you leave your vehicle while you paddle.

PRODUCT REVIEW:  PRIMUS LITE+ "ALL IN ONE GAS STOVE"

Primus makes sturdy, reliable, innovative stoves…and the Primus Lite+ is no exception https://primus.us/products/eta-lite-7?variant=38436885010 . I have and still own numerous stoves by various manufacturers, but the stove I use exclusively when in the backcountry on short or extended trips is the lightweight Primus Express piezo ignition stove…front country camping, I utilize my Primus Primetech 1.3 Stove set especially if I'm cooking for multiple people, where weight and size is not critical. 

Enter the Primus Lite+ "All In One Stove"…featuring a creative locking mechanism that secures the 500 ml pot to the stove burner with a simple insertion and twist. The Primus Lite+ also incorporates their proprietary Laminar Flow Burner Technology, which minimizes distance from pot to burner…along with lowering overall height. Like the Primetech Stove pots, the Lite+ pot also utilizes the integrated heat exchanger which both distributes burner heart evenly, thereby reducing fuel usage, and helps block the wind, also assisting with faster cook times and lower fuel consumption.

As a TheDyrt.com Review Ranger, I get the opportunity to test and evaluate outdoor products for review either for free or deeply discounted, as was the case for the Primus Lite+ "All in One Stove."

Box Contents:

⦁ Stove with locking mechanism and Piezo ignition

⦁ 500 ml (nearly 16 oz or 2 cups) pot with integrated heat exchanger/wind-block

⦁ Plastic lid with strainer holes

⦁ Removable, felt-lined Insulated pot sleeve with strap grab handle

⦁ Folding canister stabilizing legs

⦁ Suspension cord 

⦁ 3 Threaded Stabilizing Studs (for using standard flat bottom pots on stove)

Available Accessories:

⦁ Coffee press

A 500 ml pot will give you two cups of coffee using the Primus Coffee Press (not included). This sized pot is sufficient in the backcountry to provide meals for two…based on the one cup meal servings.

PROS:

⦁ Reasonably lightweight at 13.9 oz

⦁ Integrated Ignition is simple and works

⦁ Insulated sleeve with handle gives it a "mug" feel

⦁ Pot Heat Exchanger heats fast and evenly

⦁ Pot/Stove Burner interface locks securely

⦁ Canister stabilizing legs fulfill their purpose

CONS:

⦁ Primus did not use Ceramic coating on pot interior

⦁ No Stove Pouch provided (unlike the Express Stove)

The Primus Lite+ ticks almost all the boxes for my preferred usage. If Primus would've used their ceramic coating inside the pot, along with providing a nylon storage pouch for the stove burner…it would place Primus further ahead of the competitors in this hot market. Clean up would be a breeze…and the storage pouch would minimize stove damage and pot interior scratching.

There is nothing difficult or foreign about usage, nor is there a learning curve…remove the contents from the box, thread the stove head onto a fuel canister, line up the triangle on the stove head with the triangle opening on the bottom of the pot, insert…twist and shazaam! Fill the pot with your desired contents, turn the black fuel adjustment knob so it releases gas…press the red piezo ignition inward…adjust the flame and in a few minutes dinner is served.

Final Thoughts:

The Primus Lite+ is a solid all-around performer! Light enough to take with you anywhere-everywhere again and again. Absent are any complexities… simply user-friendly and practical. While I would like to see Primus utilize their ceramic coating on the pot interior and include a protective mini stuff sack for the burner…they don't affect performance or function in any way…though I think it would help bring the competition to their knees.

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not the Florida you imagine about when you think Florida...

Hidden cabins, hiking, off-road biking, boating, wildlife…so much beauty and activities to enjoy in this park! The cabins are off the main path, tucked away and private. They are super roomy and comfortable with their own picnic tables and grills. You can launch canoes/kayaks or book a trip on the boats in the park. If you like off-road biking there are several nice trails. Really family-friendly!

If you want a quaint and quite RV Park, You've found it!

Pine Island is a small fishing community. The island has no beaches. They are about 30 minutes from the closest beach in Cape Coral, and about 45 minutes from Fort Myers Beach in Fort Myers. There are many marinas to launch a boat. The island is 17 miles long. They have bike paths.

So much to do

This was a great state park. Sites are close together and not much barriers between. Bathrooms were clean, good hot shower. Plenty of wildlife to see. Alligators, birds, wild hogs, deer, and more. If you are a bird lover this is a place you should stop. Hiking, fishing, kayaking, plenty to keep you busy. They have an observation tower and suspension bridge. Park is not far from beaches or city of Sarasota. We stayed 5 days could of stayed longer. Park is busy on weekends, not so bad during week. Park staff were very friendly and helpful.

Fisherman's camp

This is an out of the way park. The map may show that it's close to Sanibel and Ft Meyers but it is not really by car. This place grows on you. Pine island has no beaches but does have a lot of fishing spots and great restaurants. The noseeums about did me in there. No one sits out once the sun starts to set. The pool closes at dusk. The laundry room is spotless and adjoins a wonderful library. This park has mostly permanent residents but the people are friendly. There is a nice dog park and playground.

Ranger Review: ICEMULE Cooler at Peace River

Campground Review: If you are looking for a clean, remote, large camping area, with large spread out sites and few amenities - this is it. Reservations for the Oak Hill campground can only be acquired through the Peace River Canoe Outpost. They maintain, clean and patrol the sites in addition to hauling your gear/firewood there so you do not have to paddle down the river with it. Sites have picnic tables, fire rings and port-o-lets available.

You can hike around the peninsula of Oak Hill and explore, look for fossils and sharks teeth at the waters edge or just site back and enjoy the peace and quiet. We had no trouble from squirrels or raccoons (we hung our trash out of reach just in case). Kids will find a way to keep busy exploring but there is space for a bit of catch or game of Frisbee.Manhunt was popular on our trip! These sites are very popular with scouting troops and locals - call easily to schedule your trip especially on weekends!

Product Review: As a “Ranger” for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time – this weekend I tested the ICEMULE Pro backpack cooler. This cooler was the large model (23L) in my favorite color green! Product was put through it’s paces on a hot spring day in Florida while kayaking on the Peace River. We packed a couple frozen water bottles and a few chilled bottles and everything for breakfast casserole for 11 the next morning, 2 small icepacks and a quart size back of loose ice cubes. Everything held temperature. We barely had room to fold over top 3 times as suggested and we did inflate just a small bit to add to the insulation properties per instructions using small valve on side of bag. Backpacking straps were a bonus for carrying to the launch and back to camp!

This cooler is so well built and tough! All seams are well put together and sturdy exterior fabric will surely last though quite a bit of abuse. I did not test to see if it floats when full as advertised. This cooler rolls up nice and small when empty and for storage – but mine will not see much storage time – this cooler will be going out on the water with me all summer! The ICEMULE Pro outperformed 2 other coolers persons in our party brought… they will be purchasing one like mine soon!

Beautiful "old Florida" park

All rv. Did not see any tents. Stayed here two weeks and could not find anything to gripe about. Well maintained. Outstanding pool. Away from hustle of Ft. Myers. Bathrooms very clean with best showers I've ever encountered camping. Great wi-fi. No cable but get many channels on hd antennae. Super areas to walk dogs. Very pleasant experience. Most sites shaded. A little expensive at close to $70/night. Approx. $450/week.

First to Review
Peaceful spacious sites

Great COE campground. Spacious sites, with level cement pads.Best sites are 21 to 26 back up to small canal with a lock. Fun to watch boats navigate thru. Fishing on canal. Also like sites 17 to 20. Beautiful landscaping. Friendly, informative hosts. Lots of birds, eagles, hawks and a family of otters! Two negatives- gate closes 7 to 7. You have to get out, unlock a hard to read padlock, open gate, drive thru and then close. Hard to do in the dark Second negative- the bathhouses are clean but no shelf by the single sink and the two showers are set up oddly where you have to pass thru one to hey to the other.
All in all a great place.

One of the finest!

I have been b.c a winter snowbird at this park for many years. The staff and facilities are excellent, but the fellow campers mb ake the facility outstanding. Close to restaurants and shopping, but in a very private area.

Don't know.. there are to many ??? marks.

The Pic looks nice but couldn't any info about the park on here.!!!!!!

Nice Camping for the Area

The campground located inside the historical state park has a total of 54 sites, 39 are RV or tent, 3 only RV, and 12 Tent only. There is a bath house on the inside loop of the sites, it has hot showers and flush toilets. Each site has electrical hookup, with picnic tables, fire pit, and utility pole. Each site has good foliage and privacy from other sites. The park has water fountains and water faucets for portable water. Each site has a gravel drive and sandy/grassy area for tents, no tent pads. It is also pet friendly. Two sites I have stayed at are 020 and 009, both are large sites with lots of privacy from neighbors. From October-April it is fairly busy, and availability is scarce, so planning a head is usually necessary to get the site you want. It is $26 a night with a $6.70 nonrefundable reservation fee, reservation is on the park website.

This state park is part of a Historical Settlement of a religious group that built this particular settlement in 1893, there are lots of buildings still preserved and available for you to walk through. A couple short and nice trails, some along the Estero river. Kayaking and fishing are also permitted.

good primitive spot.

stayed for a weekend with friends for a quick getaway and loved it. it is primitive but has water hook ups. bathrooms are nice.

senic wildlife and sunsets

we stayed at Big flats in site # 10, secluded. bike up the roads in a.m or evening and you will see lots of deer romping around. 5 deer crossed the road right in front of us. the views are terrific and you can canoe, kayak or take a tour ride. There Is an overhead canopy walk but it was too wet to get there this time

Sanibel Island on a Budget

Sanibel Island is a great vacation spot full of vacation homes, white sand beaches, and world-class shell hunting. This is the only campsite available on the entire island, and as a result it is a bit pricier than most camp sites, but it is far and away the most economical way to see the island. It is driving f distance from most of the local tourist sites we stayed for a week and never ran out of things to do.

The campground is less than a mile from the beach, easily walkable and even easier to bike. The campsite is designed to acomódate RV camping and long term mobile home set ups, however there are some lots available for tents as well. Due to the RV and location in city limits there are no campfires allowed, but grills are allowed and the site has very well kept and clean shower/bathroom facilities.

Great sites by the river

Lots of great spots right on the banks of the river. RVs are in the main campground near the pool, bathroom/showers and store. Tent sites are further back by the river. They're not marked so you just find a good one and set up camp. It is a big atv campground so expect lots of noise and mud if you go down by the one section of the river but everyone is really good at stopping at night. The restrooms/showers are old but have hot water and are clean. They usually have activities like bingo in the evenings. Close to grocery stores if you need something and the nearest town is cute.

HEAVEN IN A SWAMP

YESS!! Myakka is the ultimate adventure getaway. I stayed in the primitive grounds so it was about a 5 mile hike in with a pack. We set up camp and could not wait for the sun to go down for stargazing. This park is epic, at the entrance are there is a huge bouldering rock as well which is fun. Outside of the beauty and trails there are Floridas wildest animals. Panthers, hogs and alligators. Bring a flashlight and hide your food at night but dont forget to listen and look for these amazing creatures.

Great family/event camping

Clean facilities, marked trails, bicycle friendly with a bike trail, swimming lake, multiple playgrounds, guided scrub jay tours, ranger involved, kid friendly science center

Great park

We love to hike the trails and the kids really like the playground at this campground. The historic area is really neat too and they have a farmers market on Sundays.

Love that they don't make visitors sign in, there's people of all ages, & very kind staff!

Love that they don't make visitors sign in, there's people of all ages, & very kind staff! Laundry, showers, grills, a pool.

Beautiful time

Tjis was a full hook up, which was great!! There were 60 sites lined in 4 rows. We were on the second row and could see the beach from our site. The sunsets were so very pretty. Even though red tide was almost done and the fish dying on the beach, it was still a pleasant time. I can’t wait to go back!!

Nice park, if a bit crowded

We went in the middle of the busy season, so a packed campground is to be expected. But the sites on our side of the park were pretty close together, so there was no hiding it. Well kept park as many of the Florida State parks are, with several hiking trail options as well as a lake. Clean bathrooms, well paved roads - overall a nice spot on your way up the coast.

Beautiful, secluded sites.

We loved this place. All the sites were heavily separated by shrubs and palm trees, lots of privacy. There's a large bathhouse in the center of the loops with laundry facilities, a rarity for a state park. Lots of sand on the roadways and in sites - could be problematic for a big rig in wet weather but we didn't have any issues. Affordable rates, great location, clean showers- it's all you can ask for.

Resort campground with lots of activities

This was a fun campground with lots of activities included with your rental. They have a huge pool, pickle ball, tennis, mini golf, basketball, and kayaks. It is also a dog friendly campground.

Beautiful, Large Park

What isn't there to do at Myakka River SP. First of all, this place is huge. I think it took me about 10 minutes to drive from one end to the other, but it is full of wonderful things to do along the way. There are two entrances to the park because it is so large, but one entrance is not always open, so its important to check that online before heading over. The main entrance has a nice Welcome Center right at the front with a small store shop. There are three different loops to camp in, one is specific to tent camping and is not open year round called Big Flats Campground. Its further back in the park and surrounded by beautiful trees. The other two are tent/RV, one being very shady called Old Prairie and the other having drive through sites called Palmetto Ridge which does not have many trees for shade. There are also cabins and these are remodeled versions of the original cabins that were built back when the park first opened in the 30s.

The activities on site vary. because the park is so large, its great for long morning jogs and bike rides. The view is beautiful only the Myakka river and your bound to run into wildlife (i saw deer, gators, hogs and so many different birds)! There are also 39 miles worth of hiking trails, which all vary in distance. Some even have primitive campsites for those that enjoy backpacking. Along one of the hiking trails, is an observation desk with a canopy walkway. The tower soars 76 feet high so you have a great view of the park! There is also a pretty bird watching area for those that enjoying this activity. Even if you don't the view is amazing and a great place to sit and watch for wildlife.

The last part of the park I want to touch on is the Pink Gator restaurant/gift shop. I think it is one of the largest shops I have ever been in. The food at the cafe was wonderful! I had the chicken salad (way too good!). And they have a small Edys IceCream Parlor. This part of the park also allows access to the river, where you can canoe/kayak or what ever water sport you are into. The one thing that stood out to me is the Airboat ride. This boat hold about 30 people and takes you out on the the lake for a tour. I don't think I have ever seen an air boat that large.

The facilities were all very well taken care of as well and I cannot think of one complaint! I definitely recommend visiting this park.

Beautiful!

Super close to the beach and so much to do! Lots of attractions, shops, and restaurants!

Beautiful, relaxing, raw Florida

Bautiful campground. Super nice people. Ranger led programs take place nightly. We actually got to see a Florida panther on one of the trails as well as a friendly family of scrub Jay's! Our 6 yo son loved that we felt safe enough that he could ride his bike around the camp ground to play with the other campers. There are play areas for the kids.

Bathrooms were very clean! There were sinks for dish washing as well.

Great Wilderness Camping and Mud Holes

Friendly staff. Plenty of places to find a spot on the river to camp in the wilderness. Bring your rafts and canoes to float down the river or just hang out on the beach in your lawn chair and watch the fun! Lots of trails for dirtbikes, ATVs and UTVs!

too expensive

35 bucks for a tent site is somewat expensive in my book, otherwise I have nothing special to report about this campground exept that they had some kind of amish retreat goin on when I was there.

Eerie

if you are looking for a nice eerie expirience, this place is for you! an abondened county park next to a native american burial mound. abondoned playground equipment looks really creepy. Restrooms still work though.