Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a captivating and biodiverse natural paradise located in southwestern Florida, USA. Comprising a labyrinth of mangroves, waterways, and coastal ecosystems, this refuge is a haven for nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, kayakers, and anyone eager to experience Florida’s unique coastal wilderness. Here’s what you need to know:
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge encompasses around 35,000 acres and is situated along the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline. The refuge is known for its intricate network of mangrove islands, estuaries, and tidal creeks, making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
Wildlife Viewing: The refuge is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, alligators, sea turtles, and various bird species. Birdwatchers will delight in the chance to spot wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, and migratory species.
Kayaking and Canoeing: Exploring the refuge’s waterways by kayak or canoe is a popular and rewarding activity. Paddle through the maze of mangroves, observe wildlife up close, and soak in the tranquility of this unique coastal environment.
Boating: If you have access to a motorboat, you can explore the larger waterways of the refuge. Keep in mind that many areas might be accessible only by shallow-draft vessels due to the shallow waters and maze-like channels. There are many companies that offer guided boat tours.
Fishing: The refuge offers fishing opportunities for both saltwater and freshwater species. Check the current fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits before casting your line.
Wildlife Photography: With its diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent opportunities for wildlife and landscape photography.
Hiking: The mile long Marsh Trail provides hiking/biking access to refuge and includes a two story accessible observation tower overlooking the marsh.
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate Florida’s coastal ecosystems and their inhabitants. Whether you’re interested in paddling through mangroves, spotting wildlife, or simply enjoying the natural beauty, the refuge provides a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts of all kinds.
It usually takes around 45 minutes to cruise from the Port of the Islands to the ocean. The journey includes navigating through a long, no-wake zone, canal, providing a delightful and unhurried ride. Bring a cover for sun protection during this slow and scenic route. About half an hour in, you’ll arrive at the expansive and naturally beautiful mangroves before reaching the open waters of the ocean.