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Great Calusa Blueway... Paddling Overview

3 Blueway Regions, 10 Best Kayaking Spots, Maps & Photos

The Great Calusa Blueway is a joint venture between Lee County Parks & Recreation and the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. Covering about 190 miles of bays and rivers, the Blueway is divided into 3 Regions: (1) Estero Bay, (2) Pine Island Sound, and (3) Caloosahatchee River. It is not intended as a continuous trail. We've paddled interesting sections of the Blueway on separate trips, visiting and documenting launches on others. We look forward to more visits, and will update as we go. Kudos to Lee County and volunteers! (Map, photos below.)

paddle Great Calusa Blueway, kayak, canoe

Great Calusa Blueway Overview Map

View Larger Map

Distance: 190 miles mapped, not continuous
Location: Lee County, FL
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: See map here, and on individual Blueway pages (links below)


See individual Blueway pages; most have on-site rentals and tours

Support and Advocacy:

Caloosa Waterkeeper

 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling the Great Calusa Blueway
  2. Great Calusa Blueway, 10 Destination Reports
    - Estero Bay Region - 6 Reports
    - Pine Island Sound Region - 2 Reports
    - Caloosahatchee River Region - 2 Reports
  3. More Information and Resources

Paddling the Great Calusa Blueway... Comments and Photos

Much of the Blueway is on open water, appealing to anglers and fast sea kayaks. Yet, some Blueway locations offer excellent recreational paddling, many with shelter from wind and sun, all with plenty of wildlife. Here, you can even find your beach. Never intended as continuous, the Great Calusa Blueway is a diverse collection of area paddling options, made more enjoyable thanks to well-maintained launches, markers, a phone app, and maps - see our overview map above, more detailed maps on our individual paddling pages, plus a link below to additional pdf maps.

BYOB (boat) or select a rental/outfitter listed on individual location pages (see by Blueway Region below). We believe you will find these pages useful for trip planning and maximum enjoyment.

Great Calusa Blueway, 10 Destination Reports

Estero Bay Region - 6 Reports

Bunche Beach Preserve
Natural preserve - "find your beach"

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Bunche Beach - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Estero River
Saltwater to freshwater paddling

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Estero River - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Lovers Key State Park
Sheltered canals with manatee

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Lovers Key State Park - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Imperial River
A gem in Old Bonita Springs

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Imperial River - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Big Hickory Island
Middle launch on Big Hickory

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Big Hickory Island - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Mound Key Archaeological State Park
Historic site, accessible by boat

Great Calusa Blueway - Mound Key - 
			paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Pine Island Sound Region - 2 Reports

Pine Island - Matlacha

A fisherman's paradise

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   	Pine Island, Matlacha - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Sanibel Island

Commodore Creek off Tarpon Bay

Great Calusa Blueway - 
		   Sanibel, Tarpon Bay, Commodore Creek - paddle florida, kayak, canoe


Caloosahatchee River Region - 2 Reports

Caloosahatchee River

Exploring Blueway launches

Great Calusa Blueway - 
			Caloosahatchee River - paddle florida, kayak, canoe

Telegraph Creek

Paddling Creek off Caloosahatchee

Great Calusa Blueway - 
			Telegraph Creek - paddle florida, kayak, canoe


More Information and Resources

Fun Fact... here's why both "Caloosa" and "Calusa":

The Great Calusa Blueway is named after the native Calusa people who dominated the area before Spanish arrival. Mound Key Archaeological State Park, accessible only by boat, includes 30-foot mounds and a self-guided trail describing the life of these Native Americans. The name Caloosahatchee River was derived from "Caloosahatchee culture" ( ), an archaeological term used to describe a series of area civilizations lasting from about 500 to 1750 AD. The "Calusa" ( ) were people of the Caloosahatchee culture when the Spanish arrived.

Are they pronounced the same? Yes, except among paddlers and pirates.

Nearby Paddling:

See FL South Region for more paddling

Related Resources:

Detailed Great Calusa Blueway Maps
(3 Blueway Region maps, pdf, very detailed, small print, use with Google map above)

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau - Great Calusa Blueway
Lee County Parks & Recreation - Great Calusa Blueway

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