Southwestern Florida Paddling

Okay, you Florida kayakers, here is a request for advice. Last February and March I camped at several Florida State Parks and immensely enjoyed using my kayak within and near them (especially Jonathan Dickinson and Myakka). In mid December I will begin a long stay in Florida, first at Bahia Honda in the Keys for two weeks, then at Collier-Seminole in the Everglades for a week. I will then rent a small house in Englewood in Charlotte County for three months. I want to know where I should not fail to paddle? I kayak alone, but after threading through dozens of alligators in Myakka, I am considering finding an occasional partner when conditions might recommend it. How do I find the places and person(s) for my time in the sun?

try posting on
"getting together & goin places " here. There’s usually some yakers every time I’ve been in Collier . Also there are ranger lead trips thru ENP that you could join . I believe there is a big gathering of folding yakers in Flamingo in Dec.-Jan.

well, you won’t see any gators
at Bahia Honda, at least. And I am not aware of any gator successful attacks on kayakers so far anywhere else.

I don’t live down there, but…

– Last Updated: Nov-28-04 9:13 PM EST –

I have paddled extensively there.
After you circumnavigate Bahia Honda, make sure you come back up and paddle out of John Pennekamp SP. After you pass the "no canoes beyond this point" sign there is a great expanse to explore.
Then on further south go to Big Pine Key, and take a right on Key Deer Blvd. Follow your nose down a few miles to the put in and you can head in mucho directions there.
Stop at Key largo at the Florida Bay Outfitters, and put in right at their back door in the Blackwater Sound and do the 13 mile Bogey route
On your way back go into the Everglades National Park out of Homestead, and do "Nine Mile Pond Canoe trail", "Hells bay canoe trail" and Westlake.
Then coming back up the west coast make absolutely sure you do The "Turner River" canoe trail. It is a must to get the mangrove tunnel experience.
You need to pick up a copy of The Florida Keys Paddling Guide, by Bill Keogh.
Have a ball we are heading down in late January and will be there until early March.
When you were at Myakka I hope you did the lower portion which is wild and scenic.

If you have the time on your way back try to hit the "Springs" areas in Ocala National Forest.
Try Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs and Rainbow Springs.


sw fla paddling
here some sugestions on where to paddle from East of E city to collier seminole. I would base out of Everglades city for a while and do the turner river, also a nice loop is to go down halfway creek and into the Barron river drainage and back up to the put in. Its the best loop trail around and plenty of sheltered water. Be sure and stop at City seafood for the BEST steamed shrimp and stone crab claws in South Fla. Virgils smoked mullet is also a gastronomic delight( tell richard and Virgil stephen said HI)! I used to live in Ecity before moving to alaska and can give weeks of paddling choices whether its day trips or overnighters. Camp Lulu key for new years is a must if your down their at that time. Let me know how many days or weeks that you will be down their and Ill send you more sugestions. If you want to do longer trips then I have friends who can do resupplys for you. I also have a friend from NY who is going to be down their this winter and you might be able to hook up with him.

handle, AKG!

I’ve not paddled there, but have stayed at a friends place in E-City and have boated & fished those parts -and you are absolutely roght on: it IS a terrific place to paddle.

But you’ll certainly remember that paddlers will have to wust watch the oyster bars, the low overhead (in Jack’s Turner River “run”) and the wildlife around, over, and UNDER you!

While I can vouch that it’s a terrific place to visit and fish, it’s ALSO a great place -according to others - to

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami

Here’s a few sites to check re, Southwest Florida Paddling.

Estero Bay, around Ft Myers, is good paddling along the Calusa Blueway. And the passes and inlest are great fishing if that’s your thing, too… I read about an outing on Sanibel where a fellow in an SOT was towed about a mile by a decent sized fish out in the Gulf… Lover’s Key on Estero Bay provides a nice access to the Bay, the Gulf (on an interesting circumnav) and Bay Islands, includeing an Indian midden island over 30’ tall made up of discarded oytsr shells. To see a little about what Lover’s Key State Park area looks like, check out

and go to the 4th Annual South Florida Multiclub Picnic album.

E-City & Chokoloskee are great areas to paddle -and as AK-Glades notes, even better places to eat! Winter’s the time to be there, as summer mosquitoes in E-City are absolutely NOT to be believed…!

Jack’s Turner River trip’s a good one -Grayhawk & company will attest to that. Check out

(The FBO -Florida Bay Outfitters, a great shop at MM 104 in Key largo -website, for trips and news -and a lot of other paddling stuff)

And Jack’s referral to Pennekamp’s a good one, too -you can paddle for miles along the Atlantic mangrove coast of north Key Largo and have lots of fun, and duck in and out of mangrove creeks and tunnels. See about a Shark Creek ‘expedition’ -contact Rick Grayhawk Bartoli at FBO (Florida Bay Outfitters)about that one, LOL! To see a little about what Pennekeamp looks like, check out

and go to the Pennekamp State Park-Key Largo, FL album.

Bahia Honda State park is a neat circumnav, as is that of any of the local Keys -but be sure to consult a map -a chart would even be better -AND a tide table -AND a local boater or marina -so you know what you’re getting into: inter-island channels’ tidal runs can set up some pretty strong currents. Between Pennekamp and Bahia Honda, thjere’s Long Key State Park, with it’s own paddling trail in protected waters, and Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key sites -islands off the main roadway, US 1, the Overseas (some say OverKeys) Highway, the ONLY game in town) around MM 78 between Upper & Lower Matecumbe Keys. There’s Ocean Paddling out to and around Indian Key, historical ruins and roads to visit ON the Key, and Gulf paddling to and around Lignumvitae and Shell Keys, with a Ranger Station and historical site on Lignumvitae to visit there. Indian Key’s about 2/3 mile off on the Atlantic side, Lignumvitae’s about the same off on the Gulf side, and SHell’s perhaps a mile off. And you can paddle the mangove tunnels of Upper Matecumbe, and have a GREAT fish sandwich at the Hungry Tarpon along side Robbie’s marina and their swarms of tarpon.

Now SINCE you’ll be “in town” for 3 months, you will OF COURSE show up at FBO for the B&B & WInter Paddle Festival, naturally…!

There’s quite a few p,netters who show up there -Vic & KayakTracy, Grayhawk, Greyak, Jim3727, JackL & Nanci, Canoenut, Baldpaddler & Red Cross Randy, Iceman, Hexledge, and others I offend by not recalling off the top of my head, as well as a few semi p-netters like Pam Browning and some other so-so fellers -Nawm Shaloopski? Craig Bawtin? that make the rest of the world appreciate mortality… It all goes down the weekend of Feb 7th at FBO, and you can read ALL about it at

Well, Hermiting, you better start resting up -NOW -you’ll have one HECKUVA a SW Florida & Florida Keys schedule -you’ll be busy nite & day as you find all these great new Sunny South (& SW) Florida places to

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami

Look out, here I come!
All the information has been most helpful! I have ordered The Florida Keys Paddling Guide (by Bill Keough) from Amazon. I already own Guide to Sea Kayaking in Southern Florida (by Nigel Foster). I have added these web sites to my collection of other helpful sites on my laptop. You have all been most helpful and I just might see you here or there. I have been reading P-net regularly for over two years. I never cease to be amazed at the willingness of most paddlers to share details such as places to go, gear that has been helpful, etc. Many thanks!

Some of these books have …
been noted before, but here go’s. Johnny Molloy has 3 books that you should be able to get thru your local bookstore. First, the bible to the ENP, A Paddlers Guide to the Everglades National Park. Second, The Best in Tent Camping Florida. And third, Beach & Coastal Camping in Florida. These 3 books will make for great reading while the snow is on the ground. Also, by Jeff Ripple is Day Paddling Florida’s 10,000 Islands & Big Cypress Swamp. And another larger format “coffee table” book is Florida’s Fabulous Canoe & Kayak Trail Guide by Tim Ohr (it’s really a great book). Also try to check out located in Placida, which is right before the bridge to BocaGrande.

What will you be paddling ?
and what will you be driving?

We will keep an eye out for you.



Pungo 140 on The Silver Hermitage
Last year I bought “The Best in Tent Camping: Florida” because of its subtitle “A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos.” It was very useful. Significantly, it omits camping at Myakka State Park because camping there is like camping in the middle of a parking lot at a Nascar race. But Myakka is a wonderful park to visit and paddle in the section that has a limit on the number of visitors per day. I paddled alone in that lower region which has dozens of big gators, some as long as my 14 foot Pungo and the same color (green). In answer to JackL, I drive The Silver Hermitage, my Dodge Grand Caravan stripped of all seats except the one behind the steering wheel. I wanted to be paddling the new Wildnerness Systems Tsunami 145, but a root canal and crown shifted the designated funds to my dentists. So again its the Pungo 140.