Description & History:
The Great Calusa Blueway is a 190 mile marked canoe and kayak trail that navigates through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County. The trail was inspired by the indigenous Calusa and winds through three distinct regions of the Gulf of Mexico coastline, all containing an astounding array and abundance of wildlife. The first portion of the trail meanders through Estero Bay, while the second segment centers on Pine Island and Matlacha Pass. The third leg of the trail takes paddlers inland to the Caloosahatchee River and its tributaries.
The Blueway isn’t necessarily meant to be paddled in a sequential fashion or all in one trip. Rather, the Blueway is composed of many different trails that can be connected together in various ways depending on the type of paddle and level of difficulty you are seeking. The Blueway attracts paddlers from around the world, both novice and experienced, due to it’s ease of access, abundant wildlife viewing, and gorgeous coastal ecosystems. Paddlers are guaranteed to see a wide variety of coastal birds, crustaceans along the shoreline, and dolphin and manatee sightings are definitely not out of question; rather, the odds are rather high, comparatively speaking.
Paddlers are welcome to bring their own kayaks or canoes, or there are many outfitters in the area that rent gear, and even provide guided tours. Navigate to the website provided for more information.
The Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail has been developed by Lee County Parks & Recreation and funded with tourist development tax dollars specifically dedicated to beach and shoreline enhancement projects.
The Blueway is free to use; however, depending on where you launch your kayak or canoe, you may incur a launching fee. Additionally, renting a kayak or canoe, and required gear, would require a monetary expenditure.