On the coast of Naples, Florida, where a forest of mangroves meets the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a beautiful hidden beach called Clam Pass, named for the shallow pass where a stream that zig-zags through the trees empties out into the ocean.
Visitors can find this little-known gem at the end of a winding boardwalk that passes over the delicate submerged roots. Some stretches of the walkway are shaded by a canopied tunnel of black, white, and red mangrove trees. At the end of the boardwalk, the natural tunnel opens up to reveal a picturesque beach with turquoise waters and white sand.
To the left is a bungalow with a snack bar and beach gear to rent. On the right, visitors can see Clam Pass, a shallow estuary where salt water from the Gulf mixes with fresh water from the marshes. Clam Pass is unique as most estuaries are deep with strong currents that can pull swimmers out to sea. However, this pass is so shallow that it acts as a natural lazy river. Swimmers can relax and float with the gentle current. Visitors can also wade through the pass to access the miles of secluded shoreline to the north.
Mangroves are protected by federal and state law because they prevent erosion due to their ability to flourish in salt water. Their spiraling roots also serve as a home to various fish and crustaceans, creating a unique landscape filled with butterflies and native birds like eagles, osprey, hawks, and seabirds.