Description & History:
This 718-acre facility is a natural tidal wetlands area that is located on San Carlos Bay. It is a natural area that is indicative of the entire area before the introduction of exotic plant species; it is “Old Florida.” This is a living ecosystem that ranges from a sandy beach to Mangrove forests to salt flats and contains a wide variety of wildlife for viewing and offers great photographic opportunities from the flora & fauna to fantastic sunsets.
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 please visit the Great Florida Birding Trail.
In 1949 there was a dedication ceremony, barbecue and festivities with more than 3,000 in attendance from as far away as Tampa. That day it was officially dedicated and named Bunche Beach after Dr. Ralph Bunche, who then was a mediator for the United Nations and would become the first African American to win the Nobel Prize. The facility remained unchanged with little done to it until 2001 when all of the exotic vegetation was removed. In 2002 an additional 703 acres of adjacent lands were purchased under the 2020 Conservation Plan and shortly afterward another 13.5 acres were acquired, bringing the total to 718 acres and the re-naming of it to the San Carlos Bay / Bunche Beach Preserve.
San Carlos Bay – Bunche Beach Preserve is free for all to visit and enjoy; however, there is a $2 parking fee for all vehicles that do not have a Lee County Annual Parking Sticker.