If you don't live in Cape Coral then you probably won't head that direction unless you are going to either SunSplash water park the public Yacht Basin & Club or a golf course. The public yacht club has a beach along the Caloosahatchee River with a swimming pool, tennis courts and a marina. This is the only place for you to get waterfront in Cape Coral unless you own a house on a canal that navigates to the Gulf. There are preserves and estuaries that have boardwalks through mangroves but that's no fun during the hot months. If you are looking for that beach experience then go to Fort Myers Beach. And if you want beach and lots of shells to collect then pay the exorbitant toll to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva island.
Above: Picture of screw pine also known as pandanus. It's an old world tropical plant that has many uses from food to clothing to floor mats.
Traveling the entire length of Florida you will notice extreme changes in the surrounding foliage from north to central to south Florida. In the southern part you will start seeing fancier palm trees and exotics like you may have not seen before. Tropical fruit trees are in abundance here and if you are on the look out you might be able to gather mangos and carambola. And even though it is hot throughout Florida in the summer the winters in south Florida are an average 75. Meaning one wardrobe and bathing suit weather year round, that is paradise within the contiguous 48.
Above: Picture taken of American White Ibis while kayaking in Jewfish Creek in Cape Coral. The creek is easy to navigate and you might find yourself alone since it does not connect anywhere. It's an out and back course. I was not sure what to expect on this kayak trip but I was expecting to see manatees and dolphins. But because the creek is so shallow with lots of jagged oysters along the banks of the mangroves there were only mullet jumping and birds.
Above: Photo of mangrove trees. This picture is unique in that these are mangrove trees and not shrubs which is usually seen. Along the Intracoastal waterway on the east coast of Florida there are many isolated islands protected by mangrove swamps such as the famous Pelican Island. It is a five acre mangrove island acting as a nursery for the brown pelican and other water birds. It also happens to be the first American wildlife refuge. You are able to kayak to this island and we have paddled out to it before but there are signs posted in the water to keep a certain distance back. Anyway there is no place to walk your boat or kayak on to a beach because it is surrounded by mangrove roots. Have you ever wondered why you never see a baby pelican?
In Florida it is estimated that 75%-90% of game and commercial fish depend
on the mangrove system. The shallow waters of the root system gives protection
for the snapper, sea trout and drum until they are large enough to leave
its protection. These species are sought after by sport fishers and the
calm sea conditions in the Gulf of Mexico in Florida is highly prized.
Most of the year you can catch grouper and snapper which are great tasting
mild fish. Tarpon, mahi, spanish mackerel and a number of other large
fish are also what draws sport fishermen to vacation in south Florida.
We saw lots of oyster beds and sheepshead living among the roots of the
Above: Picture of Caloosahatchee River in south Cape Coral. Did you know that you can sail or boat from the Intracoastal Waterway on the east coast of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast?
The man made Okeechobee waterway connects the St. Lucie canal, Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River cutting through the state offering a passage from east to west as well as draining waters from the Everglades. It is also a home for manatees year round. There are a series of locks and bridges to navigate through while traveling the 152 miles but probably an experience you will never forget. Florida is all about being near or on the water. A scenic route on land across the state is either Alligator Alley aka I-75 or US41 aka Tamiami Trail; running from Tampa to Miami, hence the name. They both travel through the Everglades and yes, you will see alligators sunning themselves on the side of the road.
Above: Kayaking in Cape Coral. I actually saw a raccoon climbing through the mangroves while paddling in Jewfish Creek. He was quick to get away when he saw us though as most raccoons are. Once when we were in San Francisco I saw skunks crawling out of a hole in a large tree. They made their way down and started foraging on the grounds at the Palace of Fine Arts.
Cape Coral is not an island but is separated from the mainland by the Caloosahatchee River. It is connected to Fort Myers by two bridges and from there you can drive to Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel and Captiva. If you were to ask me my preferences on where to stay on the west coast of Florida, I would have to say Fort Myers Beach over Cape Coral. Reasons are no tolls, lots of seafood restaurants and one very good pizza joint and walker friendly. And when you crave city conveniences they are not far away. But if you are the captain of your ship and want the amenities of a full service marina in a beautiful location then it's all about Cape Coral Florida vacation.