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Surf at Cayo Costa State Park


Over the Sea to La Costa timeline

The history of Cayo Costa started with the Calusa Indians, who lived off of shell fish, fish and native plants. They constructed large engineered structures of shell, called shell mounds. Cayo Costa for centuries has been home to residents who fished. The Spanish Cuban fisherman had seasonal settlements on the island for many years. They would salt their catch (primarily mullet) and take it to Cuba in the spring time. In the 1800s there was a settlement with one well-known family, the Padillas, on the north end of the island. The family was associated with the Padilla fishing operation. According to the 1900 census on La Costa Island (Cayo Costa), there were 39 residents. The last of the pioneer families left the island in 1958.  Today the island is enjoyed by people from all over the world.

Our hope is to add pioneer stories and photos to this page as well as collecting historical information to one day be on display in the Nature & Heritage Center to be built on the north end of the island.  Please email us at if you would like to contribute or find out more.