For those scouting out a place rich with history and wildlife, look no further than Bunche Beach. The 718-acre piece of land is a prime location to view live critters, especially during low tide. Common sightings include crown conchs, lightning whelks, horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, hermit crabs, fiddler crabs sand dollars, star fish and periwinkle snails.
With that said, the mud flats are also a host to many different birds during low tide including blue herons, roseate spoonbills, ibises, least terns and plovers. One of the best things about the beach is that the sightings are always different every time you go.
Situated on the San Carlos Bay, the history of Bunche Beach dates back to 1949 where it was dedicated and named after Dr. Ralph Bunche, the first African American to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche won the prize for his mediation work in Israel. The dedication ceremony attracted over 3,000 people from all over. During the Civil Rights era, it was the only beach African Americans could go to from Tampa to Miami.
Aside from its history and the fact that its teeming with wildlife, the preserve is also a beautiful spot to pack a picnic and watch the sunset. During certain times, birding tours are available. For dates and times, go to birdpatrol.org or call 239-533-7275.
$2 per hour parking fee. Approximately 100 vehicles can park between the site and the beach with no vehicles allowed to park on the west side of John Morris Road.
Hours: 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.
*Lee County Annual Parking Stickers are accepted at this location. Outfitters launching from Bunche Beach will be required to pay the onsite vendor a fee of $5 per vessel to launch their equipment.
The outdoor activity center has two paddlecraft launches, two wildlife viewing and fishing piers, a 310 ft. boardwalk and composting restrooms. There is no running water and all electric needs are provided through solar power. An environmental friendly facility, built and designed to employ green practices. Bunche Beach Preserve is a designated Great Florida Birding Trail site. For more information, maps and guides, visit the Great Florida Birding Trail . Kayak Excursions is a full service kayak and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) company. They offer many different types of kayak rentals, kayak tours, kayak fishing, and lessons for adults and children, as well as SUP rentals, tours, lessons and sales. For more information, call 239-297-7011 or go to kayak-excursions.com.
Notice: a saltwater fishing license is required to saltwater fish from shore. There is no fee for Florida residents.
Bunche Beach is located at 18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers.