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Latest update: December 2019

Bunche Beach Preserve...

Along the Great Calusa Blueway at San Carlos Bay

Bunche Beach Preserve - on San Carlos Bay between Sanibel and Fort Myers - is a good kick-off location for this portion of the Great Calusa Blueway and Hurricane Bay. Launch from the Outdoor Activity Center (two launches, outfitter), or from along John Morris Road. Explore mangrove tunnels, cruise the shallow bay, or enjoy a secluded beach. (Map and photos below.)

paddle Bunche Beach, Great Calusa Blueway, kayak, canoe

Distance: Varies
Location: Lee County
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Bunche Beach (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Kayak Excursions  (rentals, tours)

Bunche Beach... Comments and Photos

The 718-acre Bunche Beach Preserve is a natural tidal wetland on San Carlos Bay including sandy beach areas, mangrove forests, and salt flats. Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, manatee and dolphin can be also be seen.


Paddling at Bunche Beach Preserve

Launch from the Outdoor Activity Center near the end of John Morris Blvd. Here paddlers have two options - turn east and go under a bridge to explore a network of mangrove tunnels, or turn west and it's an easy 0.3 mile paddle along a creek channel onto San Carlos Bay. Here in the distance, you have views of both Fort Meyers Beach and Sanibel Island, which highlight the relative solitude of the Preserve. This is mostly easy paddling, although wind becomes a factor once on the open waters of the Bay. Most paddlers (and tour groups) stay close to the unspoiled shoreline. At low tide, sandbars are exposed, requiring some pull-overs to reach isolated beach areas, which is part of the adventure. In deeper water well away from the shoreline, the current can be tricky. Paddling across the pass to Sanibel Island is for experienced kayakers only (usually in sea kayaks).

From Launch to Mangrove Tunnels

From Launch to San Carlos Bay


On San Carlos Bay - Bunche Beach

The shallow Bay provides paddling along a natural shoreline. Entering from the creek, Bunche Beach is to the left (east) - a popular spot, busy on weekends. We much enjoyed exploring to the right (west) in quiet solitude, far less frequented - probably because the shallows extend well out from the shore, so landings can be technical (fun) in spots, some wading maybe. We nicknamed it "Conch Beach" for all the small shelled creatures (nassa?) that we saw. A large number and variety of birds also.

Paddle as much or as little as you want. Paddling close to the beach, the water was only about 6 to 12 inches deep at low tide, fun paddling (and getting wet!) in some breakers - watch a video here. Long-distance kayakers can travel the Great Calusa Blueway to Estero Bay (east, then south) or to Pine Island (west, then north).


Outdoor Activity Center

The compact "Outdoor Activity Center" has two paddle craft launches, two wildlife viewing or fishing decks, a short boardwalk, parking and restrooms. An outfitter on-site offers sales, rentals, and guided tours. Note: Trailer parking not allowed within the Activity Center, park just outside along John Morris Blvd. (parking fee applies).


John Morris Blvd.

While there's no trailer parking within the activity center, trailer parking is available along John Morris Road just outside the entrance. There are also a couple of spots along the road to park and launch. Parking fee applies.

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