5 Exciting Kayak Excursions in the Naples Area
Paddling is one of the favorite outdoor adventures in Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Some visitors arrive with kayaks strapped to the top of their vehicles, intent on paddling their hearts out. For those who don’t, Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades boasts a host of outfitters that will rent you kayaks and gear, as well as take you on guided eco-tours.
Here are five easily accessible kayak launch points, plus pointers on where to go once you push off.
Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park
Owned by Collier County, Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park is the Paradise Coast’s only public-access facility earmarked exclusively for launching non-motorized watercraft. Embarking from this spot — 15 miles south of downtown Naples, five miles north of Marco Island — provides quick access to Rookery Bay, 110,000 acres of mangrove tunnels, uplands and protected waters.
If you’re looking for a longer journey, a lengthy channel will take you past Goodland and into the Ten Thousand Islands, an absolutely stunning assemblage of mangrove islets, narrow waterways and open bays.
On the southern end of Marco Island you’ll find the small but worthy Caxambas Park, which provides plenty of parking and an easy-access boat launch. A short paddle takes you to a series of easily navigable mangrove islands (one of which is named William Buckley Memorial Island).
Continue south for a cruise along untamed Morgan Beach, and stop to take in the view or do some shelling. Keep going and you’ll reach the southern tip, where you’ll behold the abandoned Cape Romano Dome Home, which looks like four alien spacecraft jutting out of the water.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
On a pristine 166-acre barrier island, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park on the north end of the Paradise Coast offers an easy kayak spin around inland Turkey Bay. For a more adventurous trek, head north to the Cocohatchee River, where you can turn west to the Gulf and cruise along the beautiful beach.
For a different experience, venture east and wind through the thick mangroves, where you’ll pass by condos, neighborhoods, and the golf course at Collier’s Reserve Country Club. That’s three distinct kayak excursions from one launch point.
Turner River Paddling Trail
Kayaking the Everglades is a different animal. It makes sense to follow an established trail like the Turner River Paddling Trail – otherwise, navigation can be tricky. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway): It’s not a good idea to get lost in the Everglades.
The Turner River, prized by back-country kayakers as the best in Big Cypress National Preserve, runs through three distinct ecosystems that you can see and feel — cypress swamp, mangroves and sawgrass. You’ll pass through narrow mangrove tunnels (where the temperature drops) and end up under the sun on the wide-open Sea of Grass. Unless you’re an experienced wilderness kayaker, it’s probably smart to have a guide.
For an inland paddle through the heart of Naples, put in at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, just south of the Naples Zoo. The Gordon River will take you along the Gordon River Greenway, past Naples Airport though neighborhoods, and ultimately to Naples Bay downtown. You can make a real trek of it by continuing south to Keewaydin Island, with its big, off-the-grid homes and a beach known for some of the best shelling on the Paradise Coast.