Travel the waterways of the Great Calusa Blueway with Paddle Florida

Reporter: Amanda Hall
Published: Updated:

CAYO COSTA, Fla.- A group 70 of kayakers from all over the country came to Southwest Florida to paddle the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail, along the waterways in Lee County.

The kayakers are taking part in a program called “Paddle Florida,” a nonprofit paddling organization that arranges multi-day camping and kayaking trips to explore Florida’s, rivers, bays and open waters.

During a week-long trip, the group paddled along the coast from Koreshan State Park, into Estero Bay, past the Mound House, on Fort Myers Beach, to Bowditch Point.

They went on to Cape Coral and Jug creek, in Bokeelia, and then across Pine Island Sound, for a two day stay at Cayo Costa State Park.

“The places we’ve been able to stay have been outstanding. The hospitality we’ve received, couldn’t be better,” said Bill Richards, director of Paddle Florida. “It is a paddling Mecca.”

Frank Garofolo and Barbara Washin, two New Yorkers, were on their third trip with Paddle Florida.

“Southwest Florida is, I believe more beautiful than the East Coast. The temperature, the weather, is to me, it’s very unique here,” said Washin.

“This is one of the rare opportunities we get that we have some time that we get to just sit and relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife and get to do a walk on the beach,” Garofolo said.

By the time they ended their trip at Pineland Marina on Pine Island, the group had paddled a total of 59 miles of the Great Calusa Blueway, named after the Calusa Indians, who navigated these waters centuries ago.

For a less rigorous adventure, you can transport your kayak on the ferry that runs daily to Cayo Costa State Park, or rent a kayak, once you’re out there.

For more information about Paddle Florida or the Great Calusa Blueway, log on to

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