One of this country’s best kept paddling secrets is nestled down in Florida’s southwestern tip in Everglades National Park. Aptly named, the Ten Thousand Islands and the mangrove estuaries by which they are composed are known for their plentiful wildlife to include manatees, dolphins, otters, birds, and sharks to name just a few. There are a plethora of paddling trails and multi-day canoe and kayak trips that can be explored and enjoyed in this area.
The Ten Thousand Islands are located at the edge of Everglades National Park, amid towns Everglades City and Chokoloskee, and extends out into the Gulf of Mexico. Here fresh water flows from the Everglades and mixes with the salt water in the Gulf of Mexico. This mixture of brackish water combined with the nutrient rich mangrove estuaries is host to an abundance of marine life.
When paddling in this area it is absolutely crucial to have good maps as many of the islands and surrounding landscape can appear very similar from water level. Also a good number of the islands are nothing more than a cluster of mangrove trees in the water with nowhere to get out and walk around. Furthermore, the bottom of waterbed is often lined with oysters and barnacles which highlights the need to have paddle with proper footwear. All of this is to say that proper planning and precautions are required when paddling in this section of the U.S.
All that aside, if you want a unique paddling experience with the strong likelihood of seeing large marine-life up close, then canoeing and kayaking in the Ten Thousand Islands is a great place to paddle.