This has easily become my new favorite gulf coast beach. It’s off of the main road but easily accessible and has features that make it different from many beach experiences.
Clam Pass is a county park, so it has its own parking lot with an $8 fee. I’d scoff at the price but you have to pay for parking pretty much everywhere you go in Florida and it’s worth it. It’s located in north of the Naples pier beach.
From the parking lot, there’s a 3/4 mile-long boardwalk leading to the beach and and canoe/kayak launch area. A free tram runs every 5-10 minutes or so to take you to the end of the boardwalk, which I took advantage of because I had a every goddamn beach accessory I thought I’d need with me that day.
Clam Pass Beach is right behind the Naples Grande Resort, so when I first got off of the tram all I initially saw was the overpriced hotel restaurant on the beach. After walking past the spring breakers and kayak rental booth, I found myself on the picturesque white sand stretching toward the pass (where water goes in and out of the gulf to the mangrove lined waterway). It was tight and had tons of birds.
Swimming in the pass is like swimming in a calm river. As the tide comes in, it takes you in toward the mangroves. As the tide goes out you float out toward the gulf. A few kayaks and paddleboard a passed through, some people fished, I snorkeled and searched for shells on a sandbar.
The thing about this beach that made me blow my load is the incredible dolphin encounter that I had. Dolphins are common in the gulf and I’ve seen them every time I go to Naples, but never before today have I been so close to them in the wild. After riding the tide out of the pass, I stood in waist-deep water as four dolphins swam and leaped into the air directly in front of me with the afternoon sun glistening atop the water’s surface. Holy friggin moly. I plan to revisit this beach and stick around for a beautiful gulf coast sunset.