Kayak with Wildlife in Naples, Florida

One of the things that makes kayaking in Southwest Florida so exceptional is the ability to see all the unique wildlife that this area has to offer.

By taking a kayak eco-tour through the national parks, backwater wilderness areas, and mangrove ecosystems in Naples, it gives you the opportunity to spot rare animals in an intimate nature setting.

Find out what animals you can see when kayaking in Naples and learn more about them.

Rare Birds in Naples

There are several rare bird species that are native to the mangrove forests of Florida that you will be able to see as you kayak. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or not, you will be excited to spot these unique creatures in their peaceful habitat.

Great blue herons, little blue herons, green herons, and snowy egrets are a common sight that can be regularly seen resting around the area, and you can observe them wading over the shallow water as they look for prey. Least terns are the smallest type of tern in North America and are also a commonly spotted species in the area.

The yellow-crown night heron is an elusive bird that can be found throughout the mangrove forests. Finally, is the rosette spoonbill, a type of wading bird named for its spoonbill shaped beak, which is used for the specific type of foraging known as tactile feeding.

See Fish in Naples? Waters

While kayaking through the Florida waters, you are going to be up close and personal with many different species of fish that inhabit the area. In mangrove forests and backwater areas, you will find some of Florida?s most desired sport fish species including redfish, mullet, tarpon, jack crevalle, snook, mangrove snapper, baby Goliath grouper, and redfish. You may even see a bull shark, which is one of the most unique sharks in the world, capable of swimming 100s of miles upstream into 100% freshwater.

Other Unique Animals in Naples

Birds and fish aren?t the only unique wildlife you can see when you kayak in Naples. River otters can frequently be spotted in mangrove forests and backwater routes. The southwest Florida coast is also one of the two nesting areas in the world for loggerhead sea turtles, so on a rare event you could see one swimming as you kayak through the water.

Bottlenose dolphins are the most common type of dolphin you can often see their fins pop up as they plunge through the water. You may also spot the famous American alligator lurking in the shallow waters around the mangrove forest.

Kayak with Manatees in Southwest Florida

One of the most popular and exciting animals to kayak with in Naples is the Florida Manatee. The only population of manatees in the United States is found in the state of Florida, with many of them right in our backyard in the Southwest Florida waters. They can be found in fresh, brackish or saltwater and many of them live around the backwaters and mangrove forest. Because they move slowly through the water, they are easy to spot and get up close and personal with as you kayak.

The Most Unique Kayak Routes in Naples, Florida

Adventure Paddle Tours offers the most unique kayak routes in Southwest Florida, rooted in conservation, giving you the opportunity to see the beautiful wildlife that this area has to offer.

According to Florida?s Paradise Coast, the Rookery Bay Preserve, 10,000 Island Wildlife Refuge, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park are 3 of the best places to spot wildlife in our region, which are where all of our kayak tours are operated.

You will be led by our experienced guides who are Certified Florida Master Naturalists. To get the full eco-tour experience in Naples, book a guided kayak tour today!

Trip Report: Naples Kayak Adventures

Yesterday, we had two great Naples kayak adventures on the East River.? Both kayak tours were small in number, with the 11:30 am tour only having four kayakers from Belgium and the 3:00 pm tour only had two kayakers from Germany.? A cold front started pushing through Naples yesterday, which brought cooler temperatures, lower humidity and higher winds making for a very comfortable kayak tour.? The higher winds typically have little effect on the East River kayak tour due to the numerous Mangroves surrounding our whole route.? This kayak route paddles through a few smaller ponds no bigger than the size of a football field.? These smaller bodies of water allow for great cover on windier days.? I always mention to our kayakers in Naples that wind is not usually a factor, which is not the case on our kayak tours in Colorado.? Colder temperatures at night typically encourage the Manatees to start congregating in great numbers in the Fakaunion Canal.? Our Manatees and Mangroves kayak tour operates off of the Fakaunion canal and when the water temperatures in the Naples, Florida area start to dip below 75 degrees manatees start to look for warmer water.? Be on the lookout for a good report of manatees very soon.?

?Kayak with?Alligators on the East River

Naples kayak adventures
Kayaking with Alligators

While kayaking the East River both kayak tours had some close encounters with a few smaller alligators inside the Mangrove Tunnels.? We don?t often see them inside the tunnels but when we do the alligators will typically move over to one side then dip down to the bottom, allowing us to pass safely on one side of the mangrove tunnel.? The first pond at the kayak launch is usually the freshest water being farther away from the Gulf of Mexico, which means there are usually 4 or 5 larger alligators floating on the top.? Yesterday?s kayak tours were no different, the first kayak tour started out with a larger eight to nine-foot gator twenty yards from the put-in and all of our East River kayak tours have spotted two larger gators on the last PVC pole in the freshwater pond.?

Bird Watching on the East River from a kayak

The birding wasn?t at its best on this Naples kayak adventure which is typical of changing weather conditions.? We did, however, get to see some Black Crown Night herons on both kayak tours.? Black Crown Night Herons are often hard to spot and will sometimes remain still and silent allowing our kayakers to pass right by without even knowing they are there.? There were numerous noisy Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons along with a good bit of Ospreys soaring over us looking for their next fish catch. As always on the Fakahatchee kayak tour there were tons of Green Herons hiding deep in the mangrove roots, they were somewhat difficult to spot with the cloud cover but we managed to spot a few from our kayak.? The second tour saw the most bird action and right at the start, we were fortunate enough to spot the magnificent Wood Stork soaring over us.? These are easy birds to spot from your kayak due to their 5-foot wingspan and their black and white color combination.? The Wood stork was actually listed on the Endangered Species list in 1984 but was downgraded to threatened in 2014. ?

Expected Kayaking Conditions

Naples kayak adventures
Kayaking near Naples

We are still at the tail end of the rainy season which provides birds and alligators with numerous foraging grounds outside of our normal kayaking areas around Naples and the unseasonably warmer October did not encourage the large migrations south for many birds.? However, the cold front that passed through most of the southeast this weekend definitely pushed some birds south.? This combination of colder temps and dryer weather will make for some great kayak conditions in Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades.

If you would like to go on a Naples kayak adventure with us on the East River please visit our kayak tour page or shoot us an email at info@adventurepaddletours.com.? All of our guided kayak tours are within 30 minutes of Naples and Marco Island. The East River, Fakahatchee kayak tour is by far is the best and closest backcountry kayak tour you will find outside of Naples.? This tour is now going out daily at 9 am, and 3 pm.? Join us on a kayak tour today to spot some of this amazing wildlife for yourself!

Best Places to Kayak in Naples, Florida

Want to go kayaking in Naples, Florida? While the Southwest Florida coast is known for our award-winning sandy beaches, the inland mangrove system and backwaters also offers a beautiful piece of nature to explore.

A great way to experience the landscape and see the wildlife is to take a kayaking trip in Naples. Kayaking is also a great way to get outside and exercise but is low impact and leisurely enough that people of any age and activity level can participate, so it?s a perfect activity for families, couples, and other small groups.

Here are some of the best places to kayak in Naples from the expert Florida Master Naturalists at Adventure Paddle Tours.

Fakahatchee State Park

Kayaking in the Florida Everglades

The Fakahatchee State Park allows you to disconnect from the crowded roads and truly immerse yourself in a nature and wilderness experience. As the largest state park in Florida, the park is rooted in conservation and preserving the natural land Southwest Florida has to offer.

There is zero development in the area minus the dirt road used to access the water. There are four major components to the park ? The East River Canoe Launch, the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, the Jones Grade Lakes, and Janes Memorial Scenic highway.

We offer our guided kayak eco-tours out of the East River canoe launch, where for 2.5 hours you can explore backwater of Collier County. Through the Friends of Fakahatchee, you can also book swamp walks and interpretive boardwalk tours through the park.

Rookery Bay Reserve


One of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove systems in North America exists right here in our backyard in Naples at the Rookery Bay Research Reserve.

This highly biodiverse area is integral to the Everglades ecosystem, and due to its high chance of development was put into protection. The reserve is home to an environmental learning center where they have several programs to educate and help the community through marine conservation, as well as being home to a kayak launch site.

We also offer one of the most unique routes through Rookery Bay, where you can see abundant marine wildlife and even a little-known bald eagles? nest. We offer evening kayak tours where you can experience the sunset from a beautiful vantage point.

Port of the Islands Marina


The Port of the Islands Marina is a hidden gem, and one the premier marinas in Florida. It is located 20 miles from downtown Naples. With its prime location between the Everglades National Park, the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Park, and the Picayune Strand and Fakahatchee Strand state parks, it is surrounded by mangrove forests and offers direct access to the Gulf. What makes kayaking from the marine so special is the opportunity to spot rare wildlife like alligators, river otters, birds, and manatees.

We?re able to offer exclusive kayak tours out of this port out of a private slip, giving you the opportunity to experience one of the most unique routes in the area with an expert guide.

Book A Guided Kayak Tour in Naples Today

If you want to experience an award-winning, Florida Master Naturalist Tour in Naples at one of these top locations, Adventure Paddle Tours is the kayaking company for you. We are a 5-year recipient of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and our customers have the best time while on our tours (see our Google reviews for proof).

All our tours are rooted in conservation and giving you a unique nature experience. Book a tour today or contact us for more information!