sanibel island(s) paddling?

i just returned from my road trip and one of the most interesting places i scouted was sanibel and her surrounding islands.

i’m seriously scheming for a return trip in late jan or early feb of next year; this time for more paddling (sorry ma!).

has anyone on here done any kayaking around that area? i’m especially interested in accessing some of the more remote islands.

thanks in advance.


Lovely spot
My wife and I did a small paddling program & incorporated a brief vacation nearby on Captiva. In Jan. you can’t ask for much better. Not many of the locals are out on the water for it is too cold for them at that time of year. Must be my NY bias, not frozen = I’m paddling. Dolphins and osprey abound on the bay side. Almost endless shell beaches on the Gulf side. Might want to look up Jon Houston, he runs an outfitting business in conjunction with Tween Waters resort. Nice place to stay and they feed you a humongous brunch as part of your stay. Drop me a line when you’re planning on going. Might be fun to get a bunch of paddlers to escape the ice for awhile.

See you on the water,


Sanibel Island…
I paddled my canoe a little bit at Ding Darling preserve. Great for nature and bird watching, but I had a real wakeup call in navigation. I didn’t own a GPS at the time and didn’t have charts or detailed maps (I had a compass). Needless to say, I didn’t go very far from the put in. Those small barrier islands all look the same. Tide changes really add to the confusion, too.

I paddled the Estero river out into Estero bay and around Mound key. Just south of Ft. Myers. A nice day trip. Have fun, just be sure you know how to navigate. If I get the chance, I will go back better prepared and do more exploring.

Pat #2

Cayo Costa

if you have good intermediate skills, you might want to try Caya Costa island (just north of Sanibel). Note, this area was hit hard by hurricanes last year and I haven’t visited since then. A link is

Greg Stamer

Tween Waters…Yes
Just paddled with Jon a few weeks ago. Super nice guy and is worth a ton in guide knowledge and recommendations for where to get a really great meal on the island.

Highly recommend it.

would also suggest…
Lovers Key…this is a SP just over the bridge from the southern tip of Ft. Myer’s Beach. You can paddle around and (at high tide) through the island. I found dozens of impressive shells, only to have them stolen out of my unattended boat! Sanibel, Captiva & this entire area is some of the best shelling anywhere.

You won’t regret it.

– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 6:31 AM EST –

I've been there and paddled before. Go! You won't regret it. It's a secret that I'm hesitant to let out because I'm always surprised at how many people have no clue of the place. Take some advice though. If you are planning on paddling the N. Captiva Island area you are better off not to go through Sanibel unless you want to either book a very expensive room at one of the resorts on the north end of the island, (which is as far as you can drive) or pay out the ying yang for the per hour parking. Instead, go to the Cayo Costa State Park from the mainland side. (Pine Island) The site provided by the other poster will give you all the details you need about camping and whatnot.


yeah, that parking thing…

– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 10:15 AM EST –

$2/hour is pretty steep, but i suppose it matters in the high season.

i'm not sure about paddling across the bay, though. do you know if the passenger ferry allows kayaks along for the ride?

yikes...just checked the cost of the ferry (via the link on the parks page: and it's the same as 24 hours of parking.

paddling across the bay
Put in at Pinland or Bokeelia and the paddle to Cayo Costa is an esy intermdiate trip. You can plan a stopover at Cabbage Key for lunch on the way across.

you can put in at Boca Grande if you’re very confident in your paddling skills, but even though it’s only about 1 1/2 miles across the currents are worse there than anywhere. It’s easy to get swept out into the Gulf there. Just watch the tide charts. However if you are experienced, prepared, and have the right equipment you can ferry across quit easily. Also, not to scare you but there used to be a Hammerhead shark there that the locals call “Hitler” that is known to harrass the fishermen quite frequently. If he’s still there that is. That’s been a couple of years ago. Just so you know. I don’t like leaving things out. Particularly things like that.

ferral pigs
where all over Cayo Costa when I was there a couple o yrs. back in Feb . There is a current an when we went it was honkin , but not bad by experienced standards , there was also a bit o wind . Cabins available as well as a tram ride to the camp site . Alot of the family crowd there so foreget about solitude unless ya go for a long walk up the trails . Good fishin either side as well . Cheaper rooms on the mainland .