The call of the wind and open sea may take you on a lunch or dinner cruise to a neighboring harbor, or to the Keys, the Bahamas or points further south and east. The southwest Florida coast has many scenic destinations that you can reach by sailing the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or traveling via the Intercoastal Waterway. The more adventurous may continue on to the east coast of Florida and points further north or south. Regardless of your direction, you'll find marinas and anchorages to meet your needs.
Sanibel Island is located on San Carlos Bay, southwest of Fort Myers. It is the first of several barrier islands that separate Pine Island Sound from the Gulf of Mexico. It is well known for the wide variety of shells that can be found on its beaches. Anchorages and marina facilities can be found at the south end of the island.
Caya Costa is located at the north end of Pine Island Sound. It is only sparely inhabited and reachable only by boat. It is best known for its state park which provides anchorages, cabins and camping. Pelican Bay is a particularly popular anchorage on the weekends due to its beautiful surroundings.
Pink Shell Resort
Pink Shell Resort is a full-service beach resort and marina located at the southwest end of Fort Myers beach on Estero Island. It's a popular day trip destination from Naples and Marco Island, and serves as an excellent jumping off point for cruises further north toward Sarasota.
Panther Key is a popular anchorage between Marco Island and Everglades City. It's located in the 10,000 Island National Wildlife Refuge and accessible only by boat. It's a great place to observe all types of wildlife including dolphins, manatees, and numerous types of birds. There is no fee for camping even though it's part of the National Park Service. It's probably best visited during the winter months when there are fewer flying insects to deal with.
Everglades City proclaims itself as the Gateway to the 10,000 Islands, and for paddlers that is most certainly true. It is one end of the Wilderness Waterway, the famous Everglades backcountry route linking Everglades City to Flamingo. It is the best place in the 10,000 Islands to rent canoes or kayaks, hook up with a guided paddling excursion, or find a comfortable room from which to base your explorations of Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. Be sure and visit the historic Rod and Gun Club which has been visited by numerous presidents and Hollywood personalities.
Marathon is a city in the middle Florida Keys. It's set on 13 islands, known for their beaches and barrier reef. Loggerhead turtles nest at Coco Plum Beach and Sombrero Beach. Curry Hammock State Park has a sandy shoreline and mangrove creek. The Dolphin Research Center offers interactive demos in a shallow lagoon. Near the City Marina, Crane Point features a tropical forest, bird-rescue center and natural history museum. There are numerous marinas and anchorages on both the north and south shores of Marathon. Its proximity to Moser Channel makes it a good location for travel north to Key Largo or south to Key West on either the inside ICW or outside Hawk Channel. Be sure and consult detailed charts for all the keys when planning your trip.
Key West, a U.S. island city, is part of the Florida Keys archipelago. It's also Florida's southernmost point, lying roughly 90 miles north of Cuba. Famed for its pastel-hued, conch-style houses, it’s a cruise-ship stop also accessible from the mainland via the Overseas Highway. It’s known more for its coral reefs – destinations for diving and snorkeling – than for its beaches. Key West is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, beaches and historic sites. Don’t miss Duval Street, one of the most energetic strips of shops, bars and cafes in all the land. Did we mention Sloppy Joe’s bar, a favorite Key West hangout of novelist Ernest Hemingway? And, for the more sober-minded, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (look for the celebrated six-toed cats). Indeed, walking tours of Key West are the best way to see the island's intriguing architecture, courtyards and gardens. There are several marinas and anchorages to choose from. This can be a very busy destination, so it pays to reserve docking or mooring space well in advance.
Dry Tortugas National Park is in the Gulf of Mexico, west of Key West, Florida. It comprises 7 islands, plus protected coral reefs. Garden Key is home to beaches and the 19th-century Fort Jefferson. Loggerhead Key has a lighthouse and sea turtles. On nearby Loggerhead Reef, the Windjammer Wreck, the remains of an 1875 ship, is a popular dive site. Bush Key is a nesting site for seabirds like sooty terns. There are no marina facilities here and very limited shore facilities. Suitable anchorages are available west and south of Ft. Jefferson.