Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, enjoying the native environment is a must-do in Southwest Florida. Residents can take their own kayaks out to the beaches, bays, and rivers to see all kinds of beautiful Florida wildlife. For vacationers, kayak rental companies will often deliver your rental kayaks right to wherever you want to explore!
Here are some of the best spots to kayak that you need to see.
Manatee Park in Fort Myers
Manatee Park is a quiet, peaceful journey down a soothing maze of mangroves. It’s located off of I-75 on exit 141 and is part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. The park is across from the FPL power plant, which has warm, clean water runoff that attracts manatees during the winter. As you paddle out of the park, you can follow along a trail that opens into the Caloosahatchee after about an hour of paddling. Check out the small island in the center of the river to see large, iron silhouettes of manatees! Just be careful if you decide to cross the river, as it can be difficult for large boats to spot kayaks. If you’re a fan of birdwatching, there are plenty that hang out in the mangroves that line the trail and sometimes you can even spot an alligator. Manatees are a must-see when visiting Florida, so we highly recommend stopping by Manatee Park!
Estero River in Estero
Estero River is located in Koreshan Park, an area once settled by the Koreshans, a Quaker cult that moved into the local area in the late 1800s, calling it the “New Jerusalem.” The settlements are still fully intact and can be visited on the way to the boat access. Another access to the Estero River is Estero Outfitters, for those who would like to rent kayaks there. If you are looking to see alligators, you will likely find them along the banks of the Estero River, which lead into the ocean. But be warned! It’s a full day’s trip to paddle to the ocean, so it’s definitely for big adventurers and more experienced paddlers only!
Mound House on Fort Myers Beach
Also part of the Calusa Blueway Trail, the Calusa Indian Mound House is located on Fort Myers Beach and is the oldest structure on Estero Island. It has a kayak launch, guided tours, and offers a great view of luxurious houses and mangrove islands that are home to tons of undisturbed wildlife! If you can find a pathway in the mangrove islands, you can find a micro-ecosystem of starfish, coral spawns, and other peaceful life that will one day make it into the ocean. It’s basically a nursery! Follow the channel to the right and head toward the marina to see a lagoon where you can spot a dolphin feeding, redfish and snook darting through a feeding frenzy, and manatees peacefully bobbing with the current. This area is home to a lot of wildlife because it’s between the beach and the back bay. After a couple hours of cruising and taking in the peaceful, untouched beauty, you can stop and grab some delicious seafood on the beach.