Connie Langmann of Geaea Guides leads a group of paddlers on eco tourism trip through Wiggins Pass in April 2012. (Video by Andrew West/


If you’re a year-round resident, April marks the beginning of what we consider our beach season.

The water begins warming to a temperature we find tolerable, and the crowds of both oldsters and youngsters, in the form of snowbirds and spring breakers, are headed back north.

In the past, though, the mass migration from season also meant that special events and programs became sparse. But with increasing numbers of permanent residents, more programming is being offered during the off months.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in North Naples is one of the parks joining the trend, offering presentations and classes most days of the week during April.

“We’ve been able to do more programming more consistently,” said Lori HeathThorn, a park services specialist. “We had beach combing in the past but during snowbird season. The volunteer we have doing it now is a year-round resident, so that’s new with it being year round in the last year.

“Coming up in May will be our first year of having morning yoga year-round because they kept it going really well,” she said. “We started paddle-boarding classes last June and did them during the warm-water months. This year we’re starting it at the end of April and will keep it going until the water gets too cold.”

Nature talks

Delnor-Wiggins also offers ranger-led talks on nature topics, wildlife and Florida ecosystems, and hosts programs by other organizations, such as the coastal forum lecture by the Naples nonprofit Estuary Conservation Association.

The various programs and classes are scheduled Sundays through Thursdays, with many in the mornings to attract people to the park during off-peak times.

At 166 acres and only about a mile long, the park is in the smallest 20 percent of Florida state parks in terms of land mass, yet ranks as one of the top parks in the state in terms of visitors.

Having made Dr. Beach’s top 10 list in 2014, HeathThorn said annual attendance has reached 600,000 and continues to climb yearly, but by coming at off-peak times visitors can enjoy some elbow room.

“Come in the mornings before 10 a.m.,” she said. “Weekdays in the summer are slow for us, and come when it’s quiet in the fall.”


Taking advantage of those quieter weekdays and mornings are the yoga students taught by instructors from greenmonkey yoga of Naples. The studio offers the classes as a fundraiser to benefit the Friends of Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, the park’s citizen-support organization.

“It really is special to practice to the sound of the surf,” said Angela Goodner, the yoga studio’s manager. “The breath is important in our yoga tradition, and one of the cues that we often use as instructors is to say to hear your breath like the sound of the ocean. So when you’re actually practicing with that sound surrounding you, it takes you deeper into that breathing that is one of the most beneficial parts of the yoga practice.”

Goodner said yoga students don’t need any special equipment or clothing to practice yoga on the beach. She said some students prefer using a beach towel, although there is no way entirely to avoid interacting with the Earth in one of its most elemental forms — sand.

“Some people go right down into the sand with their hands and feet because you’re going to get sandy anyway,” Goodner said. “There’s no way to keep the sand off of the top of your towel.”

She did advise against bringing the sticky mats that have become the standard tool for indoor yoga classes because the stickiness that makes the mats so useful for studio practice doesn’t mix well with the beach.

“If you bring a sticky mat out there, you will never get all of the sand off of it,” Goodner said. “They form an inseparable bond, so if you’re going to do it you’d better plan on making that your beach mat alone.”

All yoga practitioners, to include beginners, are welcome at the beach classes, although the outdoor sessions do present unique practice conditions.


“You can expect a little more of a challenge when you’re working with the literal Earth under your feet,” Goodner said. “It’s not as flat or as stable as the floor in a yoga studio, so it adds to the practice to have that little uncertainty every time you put your foot down because you’re experiencing something new.”

She said the challenges are worth the effort, given the many enhancements to the experience that come from practicing yoga in the park on the Gulf-facing beach backed by the pine trees.

“The sunset classes are particularly lovely, as you might think,” she said, “because when you sit up from shavasana (the reclining pose), you’re sitting up to look at the sun just as it is going down into the water, so it is particularly beautiful.”

Connect with this writer: @LauraTichySmith (Twitter)

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

When: 8 a.m.-sunset daily

Where: 11135 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples

Park admission: $6 per vehicle with two or more people; $4 single-occupant vehicle; $2 bicycle or pedestrian

Info: 597-6196;;

Park events schedule

Beach combing

When: 9:30 a.m. Sundays

Cost: Free with park entry

Reservations: 597-6196

Sunset yoga

When: 6:45 p.m. Mondays

Cost: $5

Reservations: 598-1938;

Bring: Water, towel, insect repellent

Morning yoga

When: 9 a.m. Wednesdays

Cost: $5

Reservations: 598-1938;

Bring: Water, towel, insect repellent

Coastal forum — Red tide: human health and wildlife

When: 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 12

Cost: Free with park admission

Reservations: 597-6196

Note: Presented by Estuary Conservation Association

Ranger-led talks

When: 9:30 a.m. first three Thursdays

Cost: Free with park entry

Reservations: 597-6196

April 7: Manatees

April 14: Mangrove walk (bring old shoes, insect repellent, water, sunscreen, towel)

April 21: Gopher tortoises

Beginning paddle boarding class

When: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 28

Cost: $15

Reservations: 431-0958

Note: Ages 12 and older

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