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Bunche Beach-Lee County Florida
Just before the Sanibel Causeway, on the south side of Summerlin Road is a 715 acre natural tidal wetland area located on San Carlos Bay. Call it heaven, we call it Florida. This completely natural area consists of a pristine sandy beach, mangrove forest, and salt flat communities. Parking is close to the beach and ideal for enjoying the sun and viewing.
Across from Bowditch Park on the north end of Fort Myers Beach, Bunche Beach preserve began as a $100 half-acre-lot County acquisition in 1949 and has grown to about 718 acres, including one of the county’s best bird watching venues.
Bunche Beach is one of the historically black beaches in Florida, from the age of segregation,”This was the first designated beach area for our local community of black people to go to without being harassed,” said beach resident and County Land Steward Coordinator, Terry Cain.
The preserve park, located at 18201 John Morris Rd., received its name from Dr. Ralph Bunche, the first African American to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, the same year of the dedication ceremony.
Why Go To Bunche Beach?
- Not crowded: Bunche Beach is a hidden treasure. With it’s “old Florida” feel, it’s reminiscent of the area before development came to southwest Florida and the introduction of exotic plant species. Most of the exotic vegetation has been removed over recent years bringing the area back to it’s original state.
- Wildlife: As a natural tidal wetlands area and mangrove ecosystem, Bunche Beach is home to a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation native to southwest Florida. It’s been designated a Great Florida Birding Trail site where one can view a wide variety of local bird species. Maybe you’ll luck up at see a roseate spoonbill. My favorite.
- Beaches: Uncrowded and secluded, with some of the softest sand in the world. But that why you’re in Florida. After storm events, asphalt and posts are exposed on the beachfront with coquina shell below it. At one time, this was the original road to Fort Myers Beach. History is what separates Bunche Beach from other beaches.
- Kayaking: According to County records, the Preserve is unique because the natural areas were not disturbed until the mosquito ditches were dug in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Beside the ditches and John Morris Road, little else has been disturbed in the transitioning natural areas. Most of the Preserve is mangrove swamp with mangrove tunnels and small creeks. There are two kayak launches with access to Rock Creek and the bay, two overlook/fishing piers, a composting restroom, an observation deck and a parking lot with a storm tech system feature to catch storm water runoff.
- Fishing: As one of the natural entrances to the back bay, Bunche Beach is a superb locale for anglers. As an estuary system, bait fish are abundant and the big boys patrol beyond the sand bar. These shallows run along the mangrove coast all the way to the causeway and the fishing is great all the way to the Mudflats, right before the Punta Rassa boat ramp. Some of the biggest reds and snook I’ve ever seen have been pulled up on that beach.
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Whether shelling, fishing, boating, or just enjoying the day, Bunche Beach is one of Lee County’s best. Although it’s quite close, one gets a real feel of privacy and seclusion. Check out a few more Nail Travels articles on local fishing spots. Get up early if you’re planning on getting a grand slam. The fish don’t wait.