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Kayaking San Carlos Bay and the Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers

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Fort Meyers Kayaking

Kayaking at Causeway Islands Park in between Fort Myers and Sanibel Island

Photo © by George E. Sayour

Historic Fort Myers on the west coast of South Florida is a vacation destination for those loving beaches, water sports, and a laid back atmosphere. The geography of this area with its many inlets, wetlands, bays, beaches, and islands makes it a perfect location for kayak and paddleboard exploration. An easy way to get out and paddle in Fort Myers is in San Carlos Bay and Bunche Beach Preserve. Away from Fort Myers Beach and the restaurants and attractions therein, San Carlos Bay and Bunche Beach Preserve en route to Sanibel Island has all the benefits of paddling in and around Sanibel without having to pay the toll to do that.

Kayaking in Bunch Beach Preserve

  • Address: 17950 John Morris Road, Fort Myers, FL 33908
  • Directions: When heading west from Fort Myers toward Sanibel Island, on Summerlin Road (County Road 869) turn left on John Morris Road. Follow down to the Bunch Beach Preserver.
Bunch Beach Preserve is a preserve of mangrove trees and trails that leads out into the San Carlos Bay. There are carpeted kayak ramps at the preserve. From the kayak ramps you can paddle and explore the various of mangrove trails contained in the preserve. It should be noted that this area is tidal and at times can get really shallow. The shells that line these trails can be sharp so you’ll want to wear good closed-toe footwear when paddling here. It is a 5-minute paddle from the kayak launch among the mangrove trails to get out into San Carlos Bay. You can also launch your kayak from the beach right there at the end of the road if you’d like to just get right into the bay.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding in San Carlos Bay

San Carlos Bay is the area of water in between Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. The mouth of the bay opens right up to the Gulf of Mexico on one end or it goes through the inlet under the Sanibel Causeway on the other side. As stated above you can access the bay from Bunche Beach Preserve directly or through the mangrove trails.

Another option, however, can be found right at the entrance to the Sanibel Causeway. When heading west from Fort Myers toward Sanibel Island on McGregor Blvd (County Road 867), water access can be found on the left side of the road just before the toll booth to the Sanibel Causeway. Make a U-turn at the toll booth and find a place to pull off and put-in.

Regardless of where you launch your kayak or paddleboard, once in the San Carlos Bay you can explore the secluded beaches and tidal pools, fish, paddle out to sandbars, and look for sea-life. There are a limitless number of possibilities of where you can paddle from here. Heading southeast will take you toward Fort Myers Beach, Estero Beach, and Hurricane Bay. Heading northwest will take you under the Sanibel Causeway and toward Pine Island Sound or the Caloosahatchee River.

Note: Before paddling out into the Gulf or even under the Sanibel Causeway be sure you have researched the tides and have a trip plan that ensures you’ll make it back. Of course, if you just stay close to the beaches you should be fine.

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