With mangrove tunnels, undeveloped barrier islands and fabulous fishing, Pine Island Sound is a subtropical playground.
If you want to go to the Everglades or Ten Thousand Islands, but don’t have time to vacation that remotely, the Phase 2 Blueway route is for you.
If you want a building-less horizon, Phase 2 is your map to grab.
If you want to paddle in the Calusa’s footsteps, dip into the Pine Island Sound waterways.
Think of this leg of the Great Calusa Blueway as more of a tripod. From San Carlos Bay at the south, one fork travels up the backside of the subtropical and paradisiacal Sanibel and Captiva. Another fork heads up the mangrove-laced Matlacha Pass, and then once north of the fishing village of Matlacha, it forks again. Go left to the tip of Pine Island. Go right to the wilds of the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.
Among the highlights:
Tip: If you see an opening in the mangroves, paddle in. You’ll find yourself moving from creek to saltwater lagoon and back. Some tunnels loop; others dead end. Almost all will feed your thirst for adventure.
Tip: Don’t want to paddle both ways to Cayo Costa? The state park’s ferry service from Pineland – the Tropic Star – lets you put your kayak atop its roof. Lengthy day trips: If you have a friend with a car, you can do a shuttle and create a trip you’ll remember long after it’s over. Try Matlacha Community Park south to Tropical Point Park. Or head north from Matlacha to Jug Creek. Tip: You can do the Pineland to Cayo Costa leg one-way trip in a day, as well.
Tip: Make a reservation a day in advance.
Tip: Look closely as you walk from the historical marker to Randell and you can see the remnants of the ditch the Calusas dug across Pine Island; it’s apparent again along the trail inside Randell.
Tip: Join the Boy Scouts of America kayak fishing tournament each May or the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival tournament the first weekend of each November.