Kayaking Southwest Florida

by Eric Lindner

Southwest Florida offers a variety of outdoor activities. Kayaking the area provides a first- hand vantage point of the unmatched beauty of our aquatic ecosystems. There are such diverse paddles available ranging from pristine beaches, mangrove swamps, freshwater rivers and creeks, the adventures seem endless. Not only does kayaking provide a direct connection with nature it is an effective, low impact workout that is excellent for your core and upper body.

I would like to highlight a beautiful short day paddle that only takes half a day. Lovers Key to Mound Key Archaeological State Park in Estero Bay is just under a 5 mile round trip paddle. The launch for this trip begins at Carl E. Johnson boat ramp directly across from Lovers Key State Park. The bay is very scenic with numerous opportunities for viewing birds and other wildlife like manatee and dolphin. By paddling the suggested route two unique views of the islands of the bay can be experienced.

Paddling route from Lovers Key to Mound Key

Paddling route from Lovers Key to Mound Key

The halfway point of the trip is Mound Key. Believed to be the capital of the Calusa Indians, the island’s shell mounds reach heights of 30 feet. The self-guided hiking trail starts at the northwest and southeast sides of the island under canopies of cabbage palms and gumbo limbo trees. The top of the mound provides a scenic view of the bay. This provides an excellent opportunity to stretch your legs before the return trip.

Estero Bay Scenic View

Estero Bay Scenic View

Exit from Mound Key looking south

Exit from Mound Key looking south

About the author: Eric Lindner is an avid kayaker with 
extensive knowledge of Florida's ecosystems.
Graduated University of Florida: Environmental Sciences
Owner/operator: www.ecopaddlesportz.com
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Lovers Key State Park: Chosen as Top 5 Romantic Beach in Florida by USA Today

beach, Florida, romantic

Lovers Key State Park
photo credit: floridastateparks.org

For years, Lovers Key was accessible only by boat and it was said that only lovers traveled to the island to enjoy its remote and solitary beach. Today, it is one of four barrier islands that make up this state park. A haven for wildlife, the islands and their waters are home to West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, roseate spoonbills, marsh rabbits, and bald eagles. The two mile long beach is accessible by boardwalk or tram and is popular for shelling, swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing. Black Island has over five miles of multi-use trails for hiking and bicycling. Anglers and boaters can launch their vessels from the park’s boat ramp. The park’s concession offers kayak tours, as well as bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals. Located on County Road 865 between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach in Lee County.

Click here to see the rest of USA Today’s top 5 most romantic beach picks.

Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Boulevard
Fort Myers Beach, Florida 33931
(239) 463-4588
Park GPS coordinates: N 26° 23.578 W 81° 52.063

Paddle on over to the 2013 Blueway Paddling Festival

Fort Myers Beach things to do

Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
photo credit: insideflorida.com

 

Don’t miss this year’s Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival — among the fastest growing paddling festivals in North America, on Nov. 1 – 3, 2013, in Fort Myers Beach-Sanibel, Florida. Enjoy 75-degree weather, companionship of fellow paddlers and newcomers to the sport, and — of course — activities such as demos, speakers, instruction, evening socials, live music, fishing tournament, races, group tours, club paddles and more.

Cost:
$5 daytime on the Causeway, kids 12 and younger free
Evening events TBA

For more information, check out the event’s website.

What’s New This Year at the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival?

Aside

A new relay race! The CaluSUP Fun Race for canoeists, kayakers and SUPers who pair up with pals for a relay competition on the Sanibel Causeway on Nov. 4, the final day of the event.

The event kicks off with a captain’s meeting at 11:15 a.m. at Causeway Island A, 19500 Sanibel Causeway Road, which is the main festival site. Festival attendees can easily watch; the race course is just off the beach.

People can bring their own paddlecraft, borrow a friend’s boat or board, or rent from one of the vendors on site. (Advanced reservations are recommended.)The race can be done with up to three people per team and only one canoe, kayak or SUP. The course is one-third of a mile. In honor of Lee County’s 125th anniversary, the format will be 1-2-5 – as in one lap, two laps and five laps around the oval course. People can put their novice paddler in the first lap and take it from there. Racers will pass a baton that is a piece of recycled PVC pipe sporting an animal puppet.

The cost is $5 per team of up to three people, with proceeds going to the festival’s signature non-profit partner, CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife). You can pre-pay online and print out the receipt at www.crowclinic.org/calusa_blueway/index.php. Or you can pay at the event. All registration forms will be completed on site race day. See the race map at www.calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com and click on “activities” and then “canoe / kayak/ SUP race.”

The event is being coordinated by the SWFL SUP Club and Lee County Parks & Recreation with support from the Sanibel-Captiva Power Squadron.

Get complete festival details at www.calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com. Festival hours on the Sanibel Causeway way are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, and Saturday, Nov. 3, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4. Admission is $5; kids 12 and younger are free. Race questions can be directed to Lee County Parks & Recreation Senior Supervisor Vicki Little at (239) 229-0649.

Southwest Florida rental vacation house Fort Myers Beach

Proceeds benefit CROW

Ft. Myers Beach, Fort Myers Beach, vacation rental Fort Myers Beach, holiday rental Ft. Myers Beach

Get Your Paddles Ready!

kayak fishing

Get ready to welcome Fall with the most exciting paddling festival in the country. This year’s Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival dates are November 1st to the 4th.

An annual event since 2006, the popular paddling festival has offered races, seminars, guided trips, a fishing tournament, demonstrations, a photo contest, and social events to kayakers. This year’s festival will include stand-up paddleboard (SUP) activities, on-water instruction, and a canoe and kayak film festival. Also, the festival will offer a race to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Lee County, Florida.Florida kayak and SUP festival

Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival 2012

Photo credit: swflsupclub.org/

The festival serves to highlight the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, a 190-mile marked-and-meandering saltwater trail that spans the coast and inland rivers along the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. It includes saltwater mangrove trails and inland rivers that access the saltwater trails.

The event was selected as a Top 20 Event for 2012 by the Southeast Tourism Society. The festival is coordinated by Lee County Parks & Recreation, which reported attendance for the 2011 festival from 20 states, Canada and Great Britain.

Festival details are available at www.CalusaBluewayPaddlingFestival.com and also on Facebook and Twitter. For trail information, visit www.CalusaBlueway.com.