Suggested Routes for Novice Paddlers

Novice paddlers typically prefer to take a guided nature trip the first time out. A great starting point for exploring outfitters can be found by clicking here.

Beginners who go it alone should plan to head out on days when the wind is blowing less than 10 mph and should launch into protected water. Many such places exist along the trail.

    Among the options:
  • Lovers Key: Launch from this Fort Myers Beach state park, and sample the Blueway in one hour or less.
  • Bunche Beach: This south Fort Myers preserve keeps you away from the fray of the Sanibel Causeway. Try looping around the mangroves behind the beach for protected water, or take two hours and head to Hell Peckney Bay.
  • Manatee Park: The east Fort Myers park’s launch site is on a protected canal that leads to the Orange River, a tame, slender tributary of the Caloosahatchee. You can entertain yourself going upstream an hour and back and never know you were gone that long.
  • Tarpon Bay: Part of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, this body of water is relatively protected from wind. It also features the Commodore Creek Canoe Trail, which takes paddlers on a gentle two-hour adventure.

Other route suggestions:

Another source of day-trip ideas for paddlers is at the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, http://www.floridadep.org/gwt/paddling/saltwater.htm. Click on Segment 12/Pine Island Sound-Estero Bay for a narrative of point-to-point paddles.

For help finding a waterfront restaurant to satisfy your appetite after a morning on the water, click here.


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