The Top Wild Encounters in Florida’s Paradise Coast

A prime destination for scenic outdoor adventures

by Adam & Megan

Surrounded by endless mangroves, estuaries, marshes, shorelines and an abundance of wildlife, Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – is home to diverse ecosystems and landscapes.

Whether joining a family-friendly conservation tour on the Gulf Coast waters or discovering the flora and fauna of the Everglades National Park, Florida’s Paradise Coast is a prime destination for scenic outdoor adventures.


Big Cypress Swamp Walk © Big Cypress Gallery


Swamp Exploring in the Everglades

The Everglades National Park is the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent. Often nicknamed ‘the river of grass’, its wetlands create a unique habitat to discover.

Rangers and park biologists at Big Cypress National Preserve lead free and guided swamp walks on a regular basis during the winter season when water levels are at their lowest.

Year round, several nature guides operating in the region will arrange tours for individuals or groups as part of an Everglades experience.  



Dolphin Spotting Around Marco Island

An award-winning tour and an opportunity to positively contribute to local efforts, The Dolphin Explorer is the only ongoing dolphin project in the US which engages with, and is supported by, the public.

A fun and educational experience, the tours run around the impressive Ten Thousand Islands, the majority of which are uninhabited, and study the movement and behavioural patterns of Bottlenose Dolphins.

Passengers will serve as citizen scientists by assisting the dolphin researchers, mainly by using ‘photo-identification’ as each dolphin is recognised by their ‘fingerprint’ dorsal fins. The tours are great for families, whilst also giving front-row views of some of the most beautiful rural islands of the region.



Eco-Tours of Waterways

Explore the waterways of Florida’s Paradise Coast and see the wildlife calling it their home with one of the many eco-tours available.

With numerous paddling routes, eco-cruise boats and nature-based education opportunities, visitors can discover mangrove forests, wetlands and estuaries in a quiet and unintrusive manner.

The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve south of Naples conducts guided kayaking trips through the 110,000-acre backwater bays and mangroves. The tours are especially magical at sunrise and sunset, as the sky slowly warms in hue and the habitats are calm.



Underwater Adventures

With over 30 miles of warm Gulf of Mexico coastline, giant shipwrecks offshore and regenerating artificial reefs, getting under the surface of Florida’s Paradise Coast reveals entirely new landscapes.

Since the 1970s, artificial reef networks made from disused concrete have transformed the seafloor to create new habitats for marine life and for underwater exploration.

Further out into the Gulf, dive spots such as shipwrecks The Baja California or The Kidd provide historic and colourful dives. In and around Naples, tour companies such as Florida Excursions and Scuba Adventures offer snorkelling and dive tours, along with equipment hire.a

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