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Off the Beaten Path Locale: #2

Photo from The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel


Estero Bay was the state’s first aquatic preserve more than 50 years ago, and its pristine waters are just as beautiful today.

Our local tourism bureau calls it a place where you have have a bit of both adventure and recreation along the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail, and boasts its following highlights:

Cultural and historical spots: It will take several paddling trips to cover these historic places. The site of the former utopian society of Dr. Cyrus Teed is today Koreshan State Historic Site. Paddle back into history and take in a hike as well in Estero. Mound House on Fort Myers Beach has significance as a Calusa site and also that of pioneers here – it’s the oldest home on the Beach. Mound Key — between these two places — is an island like few others, consisting of large shell middens rising as high as 31 feet.

Robinson Crusoe feel: The mangrove tunnels and backwaters of Hell Peckney Bay are maze-like, yet inviting. Far away from powerboat traffic and human structures, this place is magical, with its clear, shallow waters giving a view of starfish, sponges, lightning whelks, kings crowns and sand dollars.

A place for lovers: Lovers Key State Park is popular for so much more than its name, as it’s a place that dazzles with every sunset. The park’s outfitter accommodates kayakers in three different park locations.

Old-fashioned beach park: Bowditch Point Regional Park offers paddlers the best of both worlds with a bayside launch site and day dock that accommodates kayakers, but also a concessionaire, shade shelters and talcum-like sand welcoming you to dip in the Gulf. The park encompasses the entire tip of Estero Island, so you get bay and beach. Plus it’s significant for its unspoiled 17 acres of habitat.

If you’re not up for paddling, you can explore this shimmering, wildlife-rich preserve by boat, including the Estero Bay Express from Fish Tale Marina on Fort Myers Beach.

However you enjoy the preserve, keep an eye out for dolphins, manatees, osprey, pelicans and those trademark roseate spoonbills!


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