Around Naples, Marco Island and the western Everglades – a destination known as Florida's Paradise Coast – you can experience the area’s magnificent environment in a variety of interesting and adventurous ways. Expert tour guides, numerous paddling routes, eco-cruise boats and nature-based education opportunities represent the core of the area’s eco-adventure menu.
Canoe & Kayak Tours
What’s your choice? Kayak or canoe? Either vessel is ideal to explore the many coastal estuaries, rivers, creeks, canals and lakes in this stretch of southwest Florida.
The Paradise Coast Blueway, a GPS-coordinated network of routes through the mangroves and Gulf waters that hug the area’s shoreline, provides guidelines for adventurous day trips or a longer excursions that includes overnight camping on uninhabited beach islands. You’ll glide slowly by verdant scenery in the Blueway’s completed first phase, which winds north from Everglades National Park through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Improviement and expansion of the Blueway system is underway with a new website and maps planned for 2019.
If you want to incorporate education and adventure in your paddling experience, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve conducts guided kayak trips through backwater bays and mangrove forests. A must-see is the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, where exhibits and a 2,300-gallon aquarium display more of the area’s natural attractions. Adventrue Paddle Tours offers Mangrove, Rookery Bay, and Fakahatchee tours.
Eco-Cruises & Sightseeing Boat Tours
Your personal eco-education tour should include a cruise on the Dolphin Explorer. Cruising the waters of the Ten Thousand Islands and Rookery Bay, you and your fellow passengers will serve as Citizen Scientists, assisting dolphin researchers with the ongoing 10,000 Islands Dolphins Project.
Many other cruises combine sightseeing with dolphin watching or manatee watching. It’s not at all unusual to spot a glimpse of dolphins frolicking near a boat, or manatees lazily swimming under the turquoise waters.
Guided Bicycle Tours
On land, a bike tour gives you a chance to explore urban as well as natural environments while enjoying the year-round Florida sun. There are many reputable tour companies to choose from on our tours page.
In Naples, pedal through the attractive downtown area and take in views of the Gulf while surrounded by lush landscaping. Marco Island is a treat for nature enthusiasts, with a chance to see dolphins, manatees and rare creatures such as the burrowing owl. And it’s not surprising that exploring the Everglades by bike will reward you with a panorama of natural wonders: diverse landscapes including prairies, swamps and marshes, and an abundance of fascinating wildlife. Perhaps you’ll spot a black bear, alligator, bobcat, deer or turkey.
Airplanes & Swamp Buggies
Seeing the picturesque Gulf of Mexico, the labyrinthine 10,000 Islands and the wild vistas of the Everglades from a bird’s-eye view is something you simply won’t forget. Several private companies, such as Salt Island Sea Planes and Wings Aero Tours, offer guided flight tours for the ultimate sightseeing experience.
For an equally fascinating but more grounded experience, climb aboard an elevated swamp buggy for an eco-tour of the Everglades. These vehicles with massive tires can get you right out into the swamps and prairies of Big Cypress National Preserve, and up close to the astounding array of wildlife in the legendary River of Grass. The Everglades is one of the world’s most treasured environments – no trip to the Paradise Coast would be complete without a visit.