For the novice and veteran alike, paddling has a seductive power many are surprised they enjoy. There’s a calming effect revealed while you’re isolated and floating on the water, and it’s only broken by splashing mullet and snook, gulls calling from above, manatees gurgling at the surface, and the smell of the warm, salty sea air.
Launch and rental facilities are plentiful anywhere near the water, many with guided tours that can direct you to notable spots. But The Great Calusa Blueway is a must-paddle for anyone able to sit in a canoe or kayak, or stand on a paddleboard. Developed by Lee County Parks & Recreation with tourism funds dedicated to beach and shoreline enhancement projects, it’s arguably the finest paddling trail in the U.S. This 190-mile water trail threads gently through Southwest Florida, providing a close look at hundreds of resident birds and fascinating sea creatures at peace in their native habitat.
Spot dolphins at play, or the brilliant roseate spoonbill preening in the shallows. Watch osprey rise from the waves clenching silvery fish in their talons, while gentle manatees rise to the surface to snort for air. Perfect for short trips or long journeys – the choice is yours: Pick your access point (there are more than 80!), decide on your pace and then go with the flow.