Paddling Captiva IS, FL?

I will be down south soon and was wondering about the paddling ops around Captiva and Pine IS sound.

Looks like LOTS to see and do but wanted some first hand reports. Any ‘must see’ and looking for a nice full day trip. Circumnavigating Captiva maybe?



I have paddled there many times
I have relatives in Fort Myers and get to the area most years in March to do bird photography, paddle and hit the 12 hr American LeMans race in Sebring.

I used to haul my Klepper folding kayak down every year, but finally got smart and left it in my aunts closet instead of hauling it back and forth.

There is good paddling arond Sanibel and Captiva including a ‘water trail’ in the Ding Darling nature preserve. I generally put in at Tarpon Bay which is free or from inside Ding Darling where there are several free canoe launches (though you have to pay park enterance).

For renting kayaks or canoes there are several options including the outfit at Tarpon Bay which rents canoes and kayaks and offers guided tours , Tween Waters Resort on Captiva who does guided tours (adventure Sea Kayak tours), and Canoe Adventures who does guided tours from the main building at Ding Darling including a sunset canoe tour which I highly recomend.

There’s also Captiva Kayak Company on Captiva which rents sit on tops.

Some of the best paddle camping trips I have done have been on the islands off Captiva where you can pull up and camp.

I was out shrimping one night from my kayak and heard strange gasping sounds which turned out to be Sea Turtles near by which was pretty cool.

There are also a lot of places around Fort Myers where you can do Manatee tours which are pretty cool too.

Also see:
Some more info

great paddling
i live in fort myers and have paddled all of coastal lee county. it’s beautiful around captiva and in pine island sound. lots of water. florida waters are known for being warm and calm, but pine island sound is a big body of water. throw in tides and wind and it can get choppy quick. but there’s always some protected water somewhere. enjoy.

Look For Sea Shells
This area is famous for the sea shells on the beaches.

I stayed on Sanibel for a week the end of May this year and it was nice. I brought the kayaks and bicycles. Sanibel was great for biking but just okay for kayaking. You have to pay for parking pretty much everywhere on the island. We found very few places to put in. We put in at Ding Daring and paid I believe $7 to use their ramp/beach to launch. There is no pass between Sanibel and Captiva, it’s all sand, so you would have to portage about 50 yards to circumnavigate Captiva. There is a beach there and free parking

across the street. I don’t think I would go back there for the kayaking.

Paddling Pine Island Sound

I vacationed in Sanibel right at Blind Pass (between Sanibel and Captiva) about a decade ago. The pass is sometimes open and sometimes closed. I’ve seen both. In either case the portage is short and simple.

I think you can, for a fee, launch at Blind Pass at the Castaway cottages. Do check with them.

The waters behind the islands in Pine Island Sound are very nice. I have paddled/rowed/sailed Buck Key, North Captiva, Cayo Costa (north of North Captiva), Useppa Island (private, don’t land), Cabbage Key (a cute restaurant) and many of the bits and pieces in between.

It is all lovely, fine, protected paddling grounds quite suitable for kayaks. There is also an incipient paddling trail being organized by the State of Florida in this area.


water trail

they happen to be having a water trail festival the first weekend in NOV.

looks good.

and thanks all. should be interesting.


According to the calendar…
It starts on the 26th of Oct. and runs thru Nov 4th… Have Fun.

Captiva circumnavigation
is about 12 miles and used to be an annual kyak race. As noted by earlier posters, Blind Pass is currently “blind” so you will have to portage about 100 yards across a nice sandy section. The back bay section has neat birds, especially at early morning low tides. You should spot all the usual shore birds plus some roseate spoonbills. The only challenging section is going out thrrough Redfish pass at the north end of Captiva, which has an exciting but manageable tidal current.

Check out Cayo Costa State park on the Florida park website. It is an almost unihabited barrier islan (there are still a few in-holdings) and one of the only places you will have the beach to yourself in this part of the world. This is a long paddle from Pine Island and will require modest navigation skills, as there are lots of mangrove islands that all lokk alike. It is a short paddle from Boca Grande, but I am not aware of any launch spots there, and you would have to paddle across what is possibly the most shark infested body of water in S FL.

There several spots to launch near Lover’s Key State Park and tow places to rent kaykas, Depending on your skill and the weather, you can paddle either the Gulf or the back bay here. Lots of birds and probable manattee sitings if the water temps have not dropped by the time you get there.

If you are interested in some river paddling, there are lots of opportunities as well. but it sounded like you were more interested in salt water paddling.

awesome area
I have paddled about every place I could find to paddle there. I love it. Go see Steve at backwater outfitters in Cape Coral, he will have the scoop on exactly where to go.

We paddled from Lover’s Key
to Mound Key last weekend…a site famous for

artifacts from the Calusa Indians’ culture.

Great paddling in Sanibel Island…both Tarpon Bay and Ding Darling; and the Pine Island area is awesome too. An often recomended trip is going to Cayo Costa via Cabbage Key…there’s a famous restaurant there supposedly the origin of Jimmy Buffets’ “Hamburger in Paradise”, and camping on Cayo Costa is a real treat. AND the kayak festival mentioned above promises to be one of the best ever in these parts. Come on down!