Heading to the beach this weekend in Collier? Four more beaches open, but be cautious

Four more beach access points in Collier County will open Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Still, beachgoers need to be aware the state Department of Health has a blanket advisory on its website recommending people stay out of the water in Collier due to an increase in water-borne illnesses.

Related: Collier County beach advisories ending but debris remains hazardous from Ian

In case you missed it: Collier County faces bumps on its road to recovery from Hurricane Ian

Florida beach water quality map: See test results for your favorite beach

The county beach locations opening are the North Gulf Shore access and Vanderbilt Beach access points No. 2, 4 and 6, according to parks and recreation.

In October, the county opened the beach access locations at Bluebill Avenue, South Marco Beach, and Tigertail Beach.

Even after clean up from Hurricane Ian that caused widespread coastal damage with debris, there still could be “dangers hidden” under the water and sand, county officials say.

“There is the possibility of glass, metal, wood and plastic in the water and sand that can be difficult or impossible to see,” according to a news release from the county.

Beyond debris, there is widespread red tide in parts of Marco Island and the city of Naples where the toxic algae bloom can cause respiratory distress.

What about in Naples?

People walk on the beach by the Naples Pier Tuesday, October 4, 2022. The pier was damaged by Hurricane Ian.
People walk on the beach by the Naples Pier Tuesday, October 4, 2022. The pier was damaged by Hurricane Ian.

The city of Naples has opened a handful of beaches and a portion of the Naples Pier.

“Please remember, there is still debris in the water and buried 6-inches or more under the sand,” the city’s website says. “Beachgoers should wear protective footwear and are advised not to swim.”

Naples’ beach access open are below:

  • 1977 Gulf Shore Blvd. N. (pathway - no parking)

  • Central Avenue

  • Naples Pier - only 100-feet west of stairs, includes 12th Ave. South parking. No fishing allowed on the pier

  • 13th Avenue South

  • 17th Avenue South

The state-run health department conducts water quality testing at beach locations on a regular basis for enterococci bacteria, which indicates the presence of fecal matter.

Traditionally advisories are posted at beach locations when a test comes back positive and the signs are removed once a negative test is found.

Treasure hunters and curious visitors at beach, near Naples Pier, damaged by Hurricane Ian, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
Treasure hunters and curious visitors at beach, near Naples Pier, damaged by Hurricane Ian, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

Since Ian brought widespread storm surge and rain, the health department says on its website that “it is not possible to post signs in these areas. Water testing will begin as soon as conditions are safe and areas are accessible.”

Record cases of water-borne illnesses in Lee

Lee County has seen a record number of cases of vibrio vulnificus that lives in standing water that can be deadly and which health officials link to Ian. Vibrio vulnificus is often pegged as flesh-eating disease.

Lee has had 28 cases of vibrio vulnificus so far this year but 26 of the cases have occurred since Sept. 27. Ian made landfall Sept. 28 in Southwest Florida.

Collier has had three cases so far this year with one case after Ian.

Vibrio vulnificus can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe life-threatening illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions.

It does not spread person-to-person. If someone is concerned that they may have been exposed to vibrio vulnificus and experiencing symptoms, they should seek medical care.

For more information on vibrio vulnificus, go to the Florida Department of Health.ex.html

For more information on the county beaches, contact the Collier County Parks & Recreation Division at (239) 252-4000.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: More Collier beaches open but use caution, watch for 'hidden dangers'