Guest blog by Glenn Livesey of Paddle Marco.
Naples and Marco Island have some of the most pristine white sand beaches in the world… but few tourists ever go beyond the beach to experience the real Florida. Just a short journey beyond the beaten path will expose you to beautiful intracate waterways, canals and mangrove tunnels. Most are natural and some are many made. Paddling through these areas is a great way to see nature up close and access areas that boaters can’t reach. If you’re spending a few days in Southwest Florida then its definitely worth it to check out these top three kayaking and paddleboarding locations.
1) Caxambas Pass, Marco Island, FL
Located at the southern end of Marco Island and only 40 minutes from the Lemon Tree Inn, Caxambas Park is the fastest way to get into the 10,000 islands. Explore beautiful barrier islands and sand bars. Look for Dolphins, Rays and Manatees while paddling around sand bars and island hopping. Seashell lovers from all over the country come here to look for rare, collectable shells such as the Junonia, Rose Murex, Alphabet Cones, Scotch Bonnets and more. The park and marina itself offers amenities such as marine gas, shrimp, bait drinks and sandwiches. There is a picnic area and several docks for fishing. Pelicans, egrets and dolphins can also be seen from the docks. Non-motorized vessels such as kayaks and paddleboards cost $4.00/per vessel to launch or you can rent a kayak or SUP from Paddle Marco. Paddle Marco includes a map of the sand bars and a bag for all your shelling needs.
909 Collier Ct, Marco Island, 34145
Gates open 7 AM and close at sunset.
2) Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park, Naples, FL
Located on the corner of Collier Blvd and Capri Blvd (county road 952) lies a relatively new park that was built in 2012 just for kayakers and paddleboarders! The park is at the entrance of the tiny Naples fishing community called the Isles of Capri and is only 30 minutes from the Lemon Tree Inn. Motorized vessels and boaters are not allowed to launch from this park. The park has a few amenities, such as shaded picnic table areas, restrooms and a wash rack for your kayaks. Once you launch your kayak here, you’ll be within the Rookery Bay Reserve and paddling in the best mangrove tunnels that Naples has to offer. There are around 15 different tunnels you can access within 2 hours of paddling. These trails and tunnels are not marked and it’s very easy to get lost, so it’s smart to book a biologist led guided kayak tour with Paddle Marco to learn everything about the routes and nature in the area. Paddle Marco also offers kayak rentals and you can follow their map if you’re up for the challenge. It’s not uncommon to spot dolphins and manatees here in the summertime as well as lots of different bird species during low tide. There is a $4.00 launch fee if you are launching your own vessel. Parking is free.
1295 Capri Blvd, Naples, FL 34113
Gates open 7 AM and close at sunset.
3) Delnor Wiggins State Park, Naples, FL
Just a few minutes from Downtown Naples and the Lemon Tree Inn is Wiggins Pass. This beautiful park is great for kayaking. While it has limited mangrove tunnels and less shelling than Caxambas Park, it makes up for it with the amount of dolphins and birds. Manatees also frequent the bays here in the summer months. There is a hard bottom reef if you are into snorkeling only a 10 minute paddle from shore. You can launch you own kayak or paddle board for $4/per vessel. There are also several kayak outfitters that have rentals in tours available from this location on site when you pull in.
11135 Gulfshore Dr, Naples, FL 34108
Gates open at sunrise and close around 6 PM.
Photos courtesy of Paddle Marco
For more information about kayaking excursions, contact