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Reported: Nov. 2011; latest update: Feb. 2017

Paddling in The Everglades - Chokoloskee Bay at Everglades City

Everglades City is gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and 100-mile Wilderness Waterway with many miles of paddling available from day trips to week-long expeditions. Located at the mouth of the Barron River at Chokoloskee Bay, the city of about 400 people is a throwback to Old Florida. No chain hotels or stores, just as we like it. Dubbed as the "Stone Crab Capital of the World," there are several good restaurants - serving of course stone crabs, but also some of the best grouper sandwiches we've had. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: Various
Location: Collier County (Everglades National Park)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Everglades City, Chokoloskee (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals:  Everglades City. Gulf Coast Visitor Center tours temporarily suspended due to Hurricane Irma (@Oct. 2017) (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Museum of the Everglades, Smallwood Store, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve

Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge extends north to Marco Island. It includes the largest mangrove forest in North America, and many of the "islands" are actually no more than clumps of mangrove. There are no navigational markers and preparation is important, the mangrove islands can all look alike and it's easy to get lost. When padding, good navigational skills, charts, compass and GPS are important.

The 100-mile Wilderness Waterway extends south from Everglades City to Flamingo. This is literally a wilderness and recommended for experienced paddlers only. There are several routes, along the beach and backcountry - plan for at least 8 days to complete this trip. There are channel markers along the way, but nautical charts, compass, and GPS are recommended to avoid getting lost. Permits are required for camping and dependent on availability. See the National Parks Service Wilderness Trip Planner for details on obtaining permits and planning your trip.

The 5-mile Sandfly Island Loop is a good mini-excursion for beginners, leaving from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, across Chokoloskee Bay, through the mangrove islands and return. Other padding trips include Barron River, Halfway Creek, and Turner River.

Due to this area facing directly onto the Gulf of Mexico, paddling is subject to changing weather conditions. The tides are strong, so checking a good tide chart is recommended. Check with the rangers at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center for information.

Paddling at Chokoloskee Bay
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Launch from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City or at Chokoloskee.
 Power boats and airboats are abundant, so be careful.
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Launch at Gulf Coast Visitor Center We paddled on Chokoloskee Bay from Halfway Creek
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Launch along Smallwood Dr.
 causeway at Chokoloskee
We paddled on Chokoloskee Bay to Turner River
Everglades City
Everglades was founded in 1895 and served as the county seat of Collier County
from 1923 to 1960. Extensive damage from Hurricane Donna caused the
county seat to be moved to East Naples. In 1965, Everglades became
Everglades City. Several historic buildings still exist.
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Along the Barron River, airboat tours are popular Crabbing is an important industry The whole town is bikeable
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Community Church (1926) Bank of the Everglades building (1927) is now a bed and breakfast Old Collier County Courthouse (1928) is now the City Hall Museum of the Everglades used to be the Community Laundry Building (1926) The Rod and Gun Club (1895) hosted many distinguished guests and still functions as a hotel and restaurant

See more paddling trips in The Everglades

Also visit us here: Bicycling in The Everglades

More information on paddling in The Everglades (opens in a new window):

- National Park Service - Gulf Coast Visitor Center
- National Park Service - Gulf Coast Trails
- National Park Service - Wilderness Trip Planner
- National Park Service - Sandfly Island Loop
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Top of Page

Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
The Everglades - Everglades City - 10,000 Islands - Wilderness Waterway

Outfitters/Rentals

Everglades Adventures at the Ivey House
Rentals, tours

Everglades Kayak Company
Rentals, tours

Everglades National Park Boat Tours - Tempoararily suspended due to Hurricane Irma
Rentals, Tours


Support and Advocacy

National Park Foundation

South Florida National Parks Trust

Friends of The Everglades


Everglades City, Florida, weather forecast