Paddle and pitch a tent

November 30, 2009

Often I’m asked about camping on the Calusa Blueway. There are as many options as shades of blue.

Camping ranges from primitive tent sites to rustic cottages.

Public campgrounds include:
Cayo Costa State Park, www.floridastateparks.org. Robinson Crusoe would love this place. It has tent sites, rustic cabins, bicycle rentals, kayak rentals and a daily ferry service. The beaches are to die for.
Koreshan State Historic Site, www.floridastateparks.org. Lush ferns and oaks straddle the Estero River with shady tent sites.
Caloosahatchee Regional Park, www.leeparks.org. Ditto on the ferns and oaks, only this is a tenters’ delight on the Caloosahatchee River.
Picnic Island, www.calusalandtrust.org. This sandy island is all about sharing spaces – sailors, boaters and kayakers all use it. Please pack out your trash and other people’s as well.

Several private campgrounds exist as well and you can find them in a couple spots. The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau has a great search engine for lodging in which you can specify type of lodging. The drop-down menu offers “RV or campground.” Check it out at www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

Another resource for private campgrounds can be found at the Lee County RV Park Owners Association site. Some association members are right on the blueway and offer tent camping for kayakers. Check it out at http://leecorvparkowners.com/index.htm

Included on that site you’ll find the San Carlos RV Park & Island Resort, which is on the Phase 1/Estero Bay map. Also, there’s Up River RV Resort, which is on the Phase 3/Caloosahatchee map. Both these resorts partnered with us during our recent Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival.

Another source of camping/lodging ideas for paddlers is at the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, http://www.floridadep.org/gwt/paddling/saltwater.htm, and the Florida Paddling Trails Association, www.floridapaddlingtrails.com.

If you want rustic cabins, the Jug Creek Cottages are on the blueway and managed by Tropic Star Cruises of Pine Island Inc. on behalf of the Florida State Parks system. If you want waterfront and paddlecraft-friendly motels, you’ve come to the right county. Options are so numerous, we’re working on creating a “waterfront lodging” icon to include on our next versions of the blueway maps. The VCB’s search engine I mentioned above can help you find what you’re looking for.

Or you can always e-mail me. I’m happy to help you plan your trip.

Happy paddling!


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