The gorgeous Port of the Island Resort features a breakfast buffet 7 days a week from 7 to 11 am. It only takes about 20 minutes to drive from Marco. I was fortunate to travel by boat, however, departing from a marina in Goodland and arriving and docking at the well kept county owned docks at the marina at Port of the Islands Resort. My captain was willing to abide by my every whim, at least that is how he made me feel. Drive around and check out the various marinas and ship stores on Marco, in Goodland, the Isles of Capri or Everglades City to find the licensed southwest Florida boating captain that will best suit your needs.
A knowledgeable backwater guide can tell many stories and history of life in this endless stream of islands. Most of all the land throughout that portion of the Everglades is government owned, the boat captain told me. And then there are the countless tales, true or not, of bootlegging, drug running, and of the many hermits who have set up stakes on Dismal Key. Traveling the waterways takes experience and knowledge of the backwaters because of minimal water depth, sand bars, and the treacherous oyster bars. There wasn’t much obviouswild life that day, but the beauty and the reflection of the clouds, the sky, and the mangroves while meandering through the backwaters of the ten thousand islands was tranquil and beautiful. I was privy to one private fishing hole but could never, despite all manner of torture, reveal where it is. To the unseasoned backwater traveler, the mangrove islands initially all look the same. Breakfast at the resort was excellent and the cost was appropriate. The 3 mile canal leading into Port of the Islands is a no wake zone and manatee protected, so travel is slow. Because life can be so hectic and uncertain at times, my only advice is to relax and sink into the beauty.
For my second “jaunt“, I received a spontaneous invitation to travel by houseboat into the depths of the southeastern most points of the ten thousand islands at Everglades National Park at Flamingo. Of course I could not resist. The ship store, marina, and concession in the park are on the edge of where the ten thousand islands open into the Gulf. The rented houseboat had many comforts like air conditioning, microwave, and bathroom facilities! However, we are in fact in the unadulterated life of the Everglades. We are the guests. There can be no predetermined and specific expectation. At this point the giant horseflies and mosquitoes, especially at dusk, and the hundreds buzzing around the protected boat throughout the night were great reminders of howone needs to adapt to one’s life experiences. Travel light and be prepared with compass, first aid kit, a sarong that has many uses, and plenty of water. I loved every bit of this adventure. It was beautiful and fun. The boat could sleep 6 and I totally recommend this Flamingo Adventure ideally taken in the fall, winter, or spring. This trip is enhanced if someone in your party knows boating, chart reading, and the water rules. I am hopeful and looking forward to Kathleen Douglas’ narrative of the trip in the next issue of Coastal Breeze News for she will go into more detail regarding this houseboat Everglades adventure. For information regarding Flamingo Marina call 239-695-3101. The marina is open year around.
If you are unable to get to the two exotic spots above, my next everglades jaunt is much closer to home: Walking vigorously from 6 to 7 am most days of the week, my favorite route is walking up the Goodland Bridge during that 1 to 3 minute window, when the sun is just peeking and rising above the Everglades in the distant horizon. The total scene feels as if I am in heaven on earth. I recommend the experience to anyone.
I encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open for out of the way twists and turns in the road and to touch, to hold, and to love the air, the colors, the horizon, and the history of southwest Florida and the Everglades.