Nature and Adventure around Cape Coral
– An educated guide leads adventurers on an Everglades Day Safari Eco-Tour starting as early as 7:45 a.m. daily from Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach and Naples. This all-day adventure includes a riverboat ride into the mangrove estuaries, a nature walk in a Cypress swamp and a complete lunch with native appetizers. Also, enjoy an airboat ride into the sawgrass prairie and a search for birds, alligators, snakes and butterflies. $99.95, adults; $89.95, seniors 60 years and older; $79.95, children. Reservations requested. 472-1559 or (800) 472-3069.
– (within walking distance of our home) Daily: 8 a.m. to sunset, 365 acres of saltwater wetlands, 4500-foot boardwalk and nature trails, 240 ft. observation pier on the river, interpretive center, restrooms, picnic tables. Weekend kayak rentals October-May. Free admission. At the end of S.E. 23rd Terrace, just north of Midpoint Memorial Bridge, Cape Coral. 549-4606.
Spend a day traveling by kayak with a professional naturalist through back bays, aquatic preserves, wildlife refuges, creeks, bayous, rivers and mangrove forests to see otters, osprey, bald eagles, alligators, manatee and more. Pick-up and delivery at convenient locations. $50 a person full day (shorter tours available). Reservations required. 694-5513 or visit their website.
Daily: 8 a.m.-sundown, canoe, kayak, bicycle and fishing rod rentals, guided kayak tours through Estero Bay and to Mound Key. Daily: 9 a.m.-noon, morning fishing trip and boat tour on the Estero Explorer; 1-2 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m., backbay ecology trips. First Friday of the month: 10 a.m., 3-hour bicycle tour of Black Island. Reservations required. 8700 Estero Blvd., between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach. 765-1880.
Visitor Center with gift shop and kayak rentals open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free guided walk through the native plant habitats every Saturday at 9 a.m. Kayak clinics every 2nd Saturday and gardening workshops every 4th Saturday of the month. Space limited; register/info: 432-2038. Canoe launch and fishing pier on the Orange River, picnic shelters, butterfly garden, and more. Parking 75 cents an hour, $3 maximum a day. No pets. State Road 80, 1 1/2 miles east of Interstate 75 (exit No. 141, old No. 25), Fort Myers. Information update line: 694-3537.
– Features marine exhibits, such as a touch tank and aquariums. Hours are 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Free admission; donations accepted. Volunteers welcome. Three-hour tours of commercial fishing fleets will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesdays. Reservations required. Tour donation is $10 for adults, children free if accompanied by an adult. 718 Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Myers Beach, under the north side of Matanzas Pass Bridge. Call 765-8101.
– Nature center and guided beach and trail walks. Mondays-Fridays, Oct. 1-Nov. 15: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Mondays-Saturdays, Nov. 15-April 15: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday-Saturday, April 15-June 1: 8:30-4 p.m.; Mondays-Fridays, June 1-Oct. 1: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Nature center admission is $3 for adults and free for children under age 17. Dolphin watch and natural history boat cruise daily. Cruise costs are $20 for adults, $10 for children. Reservations required. Daily cruise information: 472-5100. 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road. 472-2329.
– Enjoy a 90-minute swamp buggy tour through the Babcock Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp. All tours are by reservation only. November-April: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Experienced guides offer in-depth descriptions of birds, animals, plants, and the horses and cattle that are raised on the ranch. Visitors can see panthers, alligators, bison, and other animals. A three-hour, 10- mile, off-road eco-bike tour is also available during dry months. Call for schedule. 8000 S.R. 31, Punta Gorda. (800) 500-5583.
– Hands-on exhibits, nature trails, guided walks, live snakes, half-mile boardwalk, butterfly garden. Mondays through Saturdays 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults (includes admission to Naples Nature Center), $1 for children ages 3-12 and free for children under age 3 and Conservancy members. $35, yearly family
– Regular hours: info-files center open daily 7 a.m.-5 p.m. an 11,000-acre natural ecosystem. $7, adults; $5.50, full-time college students; $5, Audubon members; $3.50, ages 6 to 18; free, children younger than 6. 375 Sanctuary Road, Naples. Thirty miles east of Naples off Immokalee Road – County Road 846-or Exit 17 off Interstate 75. (941) 348-9151.
Hands-on exhibits, special nature programs and presentations offered daily. Canoe rentals and nature trails. Daily naturalist-guided trail walks and boat tours through a mangrove forest. Mondays-Saturdays year round: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults (also includes admission to Briggs Nature Center); $2 for ages 3-12, and free for children under age 3 and members. $35 yearly family membership. 14th Avenue North, off Goodlette-Frank Road. Call (941) 262-0304, Ext. 233 or go to www.conservancy.org.