Tucked into a nook on the coast of Naples is a natural wonderland called Clam Pass Park. The 35-acre public preserve — owned and run by Collier County — is easy to get to and enjoy no matter where you’re staying in Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Your Clam Pass Park adventure starts with a three-quarter mile boardwalk that winds through a mangrove forest hugging Outer Clam Bay. You can walk it or take a free tram ride. Much of the trip is shaded with canopies of trees. This secluded trail suddenly opens up to a gorgeous white-sand beach and the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Although Clam Pass Park is only minutes from Naples resorts, restaurants, and shopping, it somehow feels like a world unto itself. If you like to take long walks on the beach, this is the place. The sand stretches for miles in both directions.
ON THE WATER AT CLAM PASS PARK
The Pass itself is a narrow strip of water that is usually waist-deep for most adults. When the tide is coming in, the current slowly moves you toward a mangrove-fringed lagoon. As the tide heads out, it carries you toward the Gulf. Overall, it has a gentle “lazy river” effect that is fun and relaxing. However, adults should obviously stay close to the children.
LUSH PLANT LIFE & BIRDING
Clam Pass Park is a living museum of the myriad plant life on the coastline of West Florida. Such exotic greenery as Cat’s Claw, Gumbo Limbo, Strangler Fig, Prickly Pear Cactus, and others mingle with the more common Seagrape, Sea Oats, and Black, White, and Red Mangroves.
The park is also a birder’s delight. It hosts one of the biggest wintering flocks of Black Skimmers in the eastern U.S. You’ll see a sign titled Common Birds of Clam Pass Park, which includes the names and pictures of 20 species, among them White Ibis, Tricolored Heron, and Red-Bellied Woodpecker.
GUIDED NATURE TOURS
To get the full lowdown on Clam Pass Park as a unique habitat, sign up for a nature tour conducted by the nonprofit Conservancy of Southwest Florida. A trained guide will take you on an approximately 60- to 90-minute walk, offering insights into the animal and plant life while pointing out different seashells, sharks’ teeth, and more. These free tours run Monday through Saturday, once a day starting at 8:30 a.m. A reservation is required. Call (239) 734-1132 or email email@example.com.
Clam Pass Park includes two sandy trails that cut through the mangroves, one running north, and the other south, both parallel to the Gulf. Even though you’re so close to developed Naples, you’ll feel like you’re in the wild — especially when you take the north trail, which ends at a mudflat. Each trail includes numerous signs indicating points of interest and providing information. That means you won’t just experience nature at Clam Pass Park, you’ll learn about it, too.
PARKING & TRANSPORTATION
For those arriving at this special place by car, park in the 190-space lot that connects to the boardwalk beach. That’s where you can catch a tram — and your nature adventure begins.