Located at the southern end of John Morris Rd on San Carlos Bay, Bunche Beach is a hidden gem. With it’s “old Florida” feel, Bunche Beach and Preserve is typical of the area before development came to southwest Florida and the introduction of exotic plant species. Most of the exotic vegetation had been methodically removed over the recent years to bring the area back to it’s original splendor. As a natural tidal wetlands area and living ecosystem, Bunche Beach is home to a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation native to southwest Florida. Bunche Beach is also a designated a Great Florida Birding Trail site where one can view a wide variety of bird species.
In 2010 a new Outdoor Activity Center was completed. The center includes two kayak launches, two overlook/fishing piers, a 310 ft boardwalk, parking and natural composting restrooms that are solar powered and designed to have minimal environmental impact. About 100 vehicles can park at a rate of $2/hour and no pets or alcohol are permitted. Kayak rentals are also available by Kayak Excursions who run a concession by the parking area.
As a getaway from the more “touristy” beaches, Bunche Beach and Preserve offers a relaxing getaway.
History of the area
Originally Bunche Beach consisted of ½ acre of land purchased for $100 in 1949. The beach was named in honor of Dr. Ralph Bunche, the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. The dedication ceremony, barbecue and festivities brought over 3000 people from as far away as Tampa, FL.
The beach remained relatively unchanged up until 2001. At that time, all of the exotic vegetation was removed to bring it back close to it’s original state. In August of 2001, an additional 704 acres were purchased by Lee County to add to the “preserve”. In 2005 another 12 acres were added, and in 2008 another 1.5 acres were added making the beach and preserve area a total of 718 acres.