Kayaking at Calusa Blueway

Explore Estero Bay

Estero Bay was the state’s first aquatic preserve, and its pristine waters today reflect that move 50 years ago. But the Great Calusa Blueway’s route through the mangrove islands and beaches behind Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach is not just for diehard nature lovers. This is a place you can have a bit of both adventure and relaxation.

Watch a leggy heron devour a silvery fish, then paddle to Pink Shell Beach Resort and Spa for a cool beverage. Hear an endangered manatee come up for air just beside your boat at Lovers Key State Park, and later find yourself diving into a bowl of lobster bisque at Flippers on the Bay with its resort-style view. Observe dolphins circling your canoe, and then head in for a spa treatment at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. You get the idea.

The trail through Estero Bay is not one-dimensional. Check out its highlights:

Tip: Stop at Koreshan before visiting Mound Key. Rangers there are well versed in both sites.

Tip: Join a guided trip for your first venture into these parts.

Tip: Always paddle with a buddy during sunsets and evenings.

Tip: Avoid this place if you dislike dogs or Valentine’s Day scenes.

Tip: Walk a trail and watch for gopher tortoises, which dig sandy burrows in the uplands and often are just off the trail grazing on grass and prickly pear fruit.