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
Advertisements

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

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

Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder Mobile App – listing of nearby parks in the palm of your hand

We just discovered a fantastic (and free) iPhone App — Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder from the American Park Network, which provides users with a searchable database of every single state and federal public land in America. You can search the database based onImage location and the activity of your choice; whether you want to go boating, fishing, hiking, cycling, or even bird watching in a National Park in Florida (or any other state), the Oh, Ranger! app is a great resource for information.

Once users have chosen where they want to go, Oh, Ranger! helps as a virtual guide. It gives users directions, necessary phone numbers, important weather information, food and lodging facts, as well as links to related sites. It’s significant to note that many of these features are actually embedded into the application itself, meaning users don’t need internet access (which is great, since access is usually poor in the middle of the wilderness) to get the information they want.

The parks database itself is extensive, and includes thousands of national parks, state parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recreation areas and a variety of other public lands. When I searched for “Boating” in the Fort Myers Beach area, the results showed 6 great Federal and State parks, plus 10 local parks.

In addition, Ford Motor Company will donate $150,000 to four non-profit organizations. Each non-profit will receive dollar from Ford for every vote/download.  If you have a smartphone, simply download the Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder™ Mobile App and vote for your favorite of the four: Boy Scouts of America, National Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Nation or the Student Conservation Association.This app is available for iPhones, iPads, iPod touch, and Android, and for those of you without a smartphone, all of the information available through the app can be accessed at OhRanger.com.

Visit the iTunes app store or go to the Oh, Ranger website to learn more and download the app.