Visit Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands of Southwest Florida, the Everglades

The Ten Thousand Islands of Florida


by Reverend Dr Bob N. Wallace | Everglades Community Church

Have you ever heard of the Ten Thousand Islands? They’re a captivating archipelago located near the southern end of Marco Island in southwest Florida, extending southward toward Lostman’s River located in Everglades National Park, Monroe County, Florida. That river’s pristine waters begin in the Big Cypress National Preserve and wander 26 miles west through the unique ecosystem of the Florida Everglades out into the Gulf of Mexico.

These islands along the Gulf Coast of Florida west of the Everglades consist of hundreds of deserted islands and keys. Some of the islands are elevated remnants of a submerged coastline, while others were formed due to mangroves growing on oyster bars. Rather than the literal thousands implied by their title, the actual number of islets in the chain is in the hundreds, not ten thousand!

People come from all over the world to fish the Ten Thousand Islands. It’s exciting and varied for anglers. And the fresh brackish marshes of the Ten Thousand Islands are open during daylight hours. Anglers can fish for Redfish, Snook, Gray Snapper, Spotted Seatrout, and Sheepshead to name a few. Furthermore, freshwater fishing is made accessible from U.S. Route 41, approximately 2.5 miles east of the intersection of Florida Hwy. 92 and U.S. 41. There you can find freshwater species like Bream, Gar, and Largemouth Bass.

The best way to explore and fish the Ten Thousand Islands is by kayaking or canoeing. Either is an excellent way to navigate the backwaters of the Ten Thousand Islands. And the changing water levels allow anglers to enjoy the backcountry. However, be sure to check water levels in advance with a tidal chart, as some areas may be unreachable due to changing weather conditions. And there are no refuge facilities specifically for anglers in the Ten Thousand Islands area.

Joey Waves image of Ten Thousan Islands
Photo Courtesy of Joey Waves

The Ten Thousand Islands are a pristine environment, so respect the natural surroundings and enjoy the solitude of this unique fishing destination. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the Ten Thousand Islands offer you a remarkable fishing experience surrounded by untouched beauty undisturbed by others. These pristine islands are largely uninhabited and offer a true wilderness experience.

The northern part of the Ten Thousand Islands is between Cape Romano and Everglades City within the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The southern portion south of Everglades City is part of Everglades National Park. The area is packed with mangrove forests, crystal-clear waters, and abundant wildlife.

Native Americans inhabited and used the Ten Thousand Islands for thousands of years. Evidence of former living sites are submerged under as much as four feet (1.2 meters) of water. Archaeological sites, including shell rings and other shell complexes, have been identified in, or near, the islands. The Horr’s Island archaeological site, located just south of Marco Island, is at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands and was occupied 3,500 years ago. The culture of the Indigenous people in this area was distinctive enough to be classified as a sub-area of the Glades culture.

Most of the Ten Thousand Islands remain uninhabited; however, the largest island, Chokoloskee Island, is connected to Everglades City by a 3-mile-long causeway built in 1955. That island itself has a rich history of human habitation, dating back much further than the causeway’s construction and today has approximately 400 permanent residents.

You can explore some of the islands by canoeing, sea kayaking, and camping. But if you do, you should be prepared for the wilderness conditions. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recommends that only seasoned canoeists and kayakers attempt this due to factors like wind, weather, and the lack of fresh water.

The Ten Thousand Islands is waiting to be explored if you are seeking adventure and serenity. They offer you a unique blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and untouched wilderness.

2024-06-19T15:38:53-04:00July 10, 2024|Community|

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