Running boat tours into the Ten Thousand Islands has become one of my favorite things in the world to do. Not only do I have the luxury of spending my day in a pristine, raw environment, but I get to show and teach people at the same time. Starting out of the Port of the Islands Marina, we make our way through the 1.5-mile manatee sanctuary. During this idle to the islands, we can find countless bird species, search for the elusive west indies manatee, and take our time to talk about some of the history and wildlife this area has to offer. Starting our boat tour in this brackish water paradise allows us to find animal species that we may not typically find throughout the outer islands, where the water is much saltier. One animal, in particular, being the American alligator. Alligators are a freshwater species that can tolerate certain salinity levels for limited periods, making the Fakaunion Canal a perfect area for the alligator to call home. Just north of the bridge and among the ponds throughout the Port of the Islands, they have consistent year-round access to freshwater, which is essential in the later months of the dry season as we tend to see increase salinity levels in the canal.
During our winter months, the manatees like to push further up the canal, seeking warmer water. This gives our boat tour guests a perfect opportunity to spot manatees before we even leave the canal. During the summer months, manatees are spread throughout Florida’s coastlines, making sightings a little more difficult but always possible. Once we make our way out of the canal and into the islands, we snake our way through literally thousands of barrier islands between the mainland Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico. During our boat ride through the islands, we make numerous stops to observe feeding birds, dolphins, and on super-rare occasions, bobcats and black bears.BOOK A BOAT TOUR!
The main attraction, however, is still yet to come. Taking a boat tour out of Port of the Islands allows us to make a beach stop at some of the most secluded and beautiful white sandy beaches Florida has to offer. Here guests can get out, stretch their legs, and go for a walk down a totally isolated beach outside of the madness a typical public beach can offer. This gives people such a better feeling for what our coastlines may have looked like hundreds of years before the human-influenced coastlines, which many people are used to exploring. Regardless of when you book your boat tour, the amount of wildlife and scenery this tour has to offer is second to none. A Port of the Islands boat tour will have you leaving with a whole new sense of what the Florida Everglades has to offer, and it will demonstrate the magnificence of a proper wilderness area if left undisturbed by mankind.
The Port of the Islands is a quick drive southeast from Naples and Marco Island.
Capt. Logan Hannan