florida vacation

Packing up 2 kayaks and bikes and heading down to Florida for the last 2 weeks of May. Never have kayaked in FL but have sailed in the Keys a couple of times. Primary destination is Fort Myers area, maybe Sanibel Island. Need any info anyone can give me on where to stay, paddle, eat and anything else that might be helpfull.

Would like to stay in a small cottage. Might

try some camping in Northern FL, panhandle area.


I haven’t been there in some time, but I always enjoyed staying at the Tween Waters Inn. As the name implies, you are between the Gulf and the Bay. You can put your kayak in the water right in your back yard. The rooms were clean and the restaurant was good. Bike riding between Sanibel and Captiva is about 30 miles. You will pass John Ding Darling state park. You can bike through the park, dirt roads, if you like. There are bike paths all over Sanibel. In May, it shouldn’t be too crowded. Have a great trip!

You can also paddle …
through Ding Darling. I am not sure of the arrangements but it used to be with a guide and a canoe.

Nigel Foster says:

– Last Updated: Feb-21-07 9:39 PM EST –


Hope that helps, char lied.

Love’s Key or Mound Key are
interesting and also near Ft Myers. Caya Costa is a bit north of there (just south of Boca Grande). A place that should not be missed is the Silver River, just east of Ocala Fla. If you are by Venice, Fl, give me a call and we’ll go paddling.

Terry www.terrybrawley.com

Thanks for the info, after I finalize my plans

I will let you know if I will be by Venice.


There’s Sanibel and Captiva, as noted, with the J.N. “Ding” Darling Nature Preserve on the Bay side of Sanibel, as well as an either island circumnav. You can investigate what the “Sanibel Stoop” is if you land on a beach there…

But there’s a lot more. In the southernmost area of Everglades City & Chokoloskee, perhaps a n hour and a half south of Ft. Myers, there’s exquisite skinny water fishing, and the wonders of the Ten Thousand Islands (the famous salad dressing, “Ten Thousand Island” dressing, was named for the area) and the northeastern corner of the Everglades National Park. Loads of paddling mangroves and the Gulf, islands galore, and under water (sharks, rays, snook, tarpon, and all sorts of other inshore species, and the young of even offshore species teem in this vast aquatic nursery), and above water (egrets, storks, ibises, hawks, eagles-bald, and eagles-fish, and tons of “regular” birds as well), and ‘tween water’ (gators, other amphibia, crustacea) wildlife abounds.

Northward, civilization encroaches but you can still find plenty to see in the ‘get away from it’ mode as well as peeking in on folks back yards and cruising past urban, and urbanizing, waterfronts.


Lovers Key and Lovers Key State Park is part of the Florida State Park system.

“Welcome to Lovers Key State Park

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 multiuse trails for hiking and bicycling. Anglers and boaters can launch their vessels from the park’s boat ramp. The park’s concession offers boat and fishing tours, as well as bicycle, canoe, and kayak rentals.

For tour reservations, call (239) 314-0110.

Located on County Road 865 between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach in Lee County.

Contact the Florida Park Service Information Center for general inquiries.

For Information about Lovers Key State Park, please call 239-463-4588”

The above text was taken from the website.

Lovers Key is easily accessible by car, might still be free (we were there 3 years ago for the Annual South Florida Multiclub Picnic, where clubs from around the state meet, greet, eat, paddle, compare boats, swap/sell boats, and tell tall tales of their adventures, and offers nice launch spots, with access to Gulf, Bay, waterway, and mangrove trail paddling. Some paddling does cross motorized channels, and you get to the Gulf via crossing beneath causeway bridges, which means not only watching for boaters, but being aware of tides and currents, but is easily managed by all but the most rank of novices with a bit of practice and caution. I paddled a short trans-bay hop in a group that went to Mound Key, also known as Shell Key, an incredible midden over 30’ high that the Calusa Indians, who already resided in SW Florida when Columbus and friends were ‘discovering’ it, used it as a trash pile for their discarded oyster shells.

They ate a LOT of oysters…!

It was an enjoyable paddle and is but a sample of what’s available there at Lovers Key.

See more at: http://www.floridastateparks.org/loverskey/

The Great Calusa Blueway

Perhaps even more importantly, within the same Southwest Florida Coast within which lies Lovers Key lies the Great Calusa Blueway.

You’ve heard of greenways –places where non-motorized activities are encouraged -things like walking, running, riding, and biking trails are sited, more or less linear parks for action sports. Well, a Blueway is the same thing, aquatically speaking: it’s for paddlers (though they wouldn’t turn away swimmers, they’re not in the usual realm of 1-20-mile swims for most folks), and while they may intersect or parallel normal watercraft channels. They are designed to segregate paddlers from motorized craft on the water, and can feature places where most if not all motorized craft couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to –navigate. The Calusa Blueway is one such non-motorized paddleway.

See more at: http://www.greatcalusablueway.com/main.php

The Florida Circumnavigation Saltwater Paddling Trail.

And for the more adventurous, or perhaps merely the more saltwater-oriented (and there’s a lot of it in SW Florida) there’s the Florida Circumnavigation Saltwater Paddling Trail. Because it’s a state circumnav trail, SW Florida’s coastline is of course included. The Great Calusa Blueway makes up part of it, but there’s a lot more, as well, in Monroe, Collier, Lee, and Sarasota Counties, where you’ll be spending most of your time, as well as a lot –a LOT, more of ot around the entire coastline of out water-abundant state.

See more at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/paddling/saltwater.htm


And also featured in the ‘general SW Florida’ area are any numbers of rivers and state parks that off paddling opportunities.

See more at:



Well, that’s but a touch, mostly of the bay and saltwater side of things. There are the Caloosahatchee and Peace Rivers, with their broad mouths, that can offer paddling p[ossibilities, as well as proceeding inland to see what the more riverine of their courses look like, and many others as well.

It’s a great place to


-Frank in Miami

Pick up Nigel Foster’s…
guide to s.w. Florida. All the info you need to paddle this section of the state is there.