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Paddling the Great Calusa Blueway

March 27, 2015
FL Guide

Surrounded by water, Pine Island is the perfect destination for those who enjoy water sports. Kayaking enthusiasts are growing in number each year and Pine Island ranks high on the list of places in Southwest Florida to dip a paddle.

Stretching more than 96 miles, the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail makes its way to the waters that surround Pine Island. Declared as one the top 12 American Adventures by, the Blueway has become increasingly more popular among kayakers and canoers from around the country. Phase II encompasses the 62 miles of the trail that takes paddlers from Bunch Beach in Fort Myers to the trail's end at the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve. The marked paddling trail finds its first stop on the approach to the island at Picnic Island just off shore from St. James City at the southern tip of Pine Island. Paddlers then proceed to the eastern shore through an area known as Matlacha Pass. Along the way, paddlers will have a rare opportunity to see nature up close. Wading birds dot the shoreline and the sight of osprey and bald eagles circling above are not unusual. Stops along Matlacha Pass include St. James Creek, Manatee Bay, Monroe Landing, Pine Island Creek, the Matlacha Park, Deer Key, Indian Field and, at the north end of the island, Smokehouse Key. Paddlers can opt to continue their journey northward into Charlotte Harbor or veer west, rounding the northern tip of Pine Island to paddle south to Wilson's Cut or cross Pine Island Sound to Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park. Taking either route, those on the water will see dolphins playing in the surf as well as manatee and sea turtles gliding through the water of both Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound.



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