If you are looking for a unique and memorable Southwest Florida experience, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s eco-cruise through Rookery Bay is all that and more.
Located just south of Naples, Rookery Bay is one of the few undisturbed mangrove estuaries left in the U.S., and one of only 28 National Estuarine Reserves. This 110,000-acres of open water, containing interconnected bays, mangrove wetlands, lagoons and streams is habitat for a vast array of wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds. As a designated Estuarine Reserve, Rookery Bay offers a natural backdrop for education as well as a laboratory for biologists, teachers, and students. Protecting this threatened estuary was the first accomplishment of the fledging Conservancy, founded by a group of concerned citizens, more than 50 years ago.
“In 1964, the county wanted to extend what is now Bayshore Drive through the heart of Rookery Bay, through mangroves and barrier islands,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “After two years of effort, what was then called the Collier County Conservancy raised funds to purchase 2,600 acres of land and save Rookery Bay. Our mission is much bigger today, but we still focus on preserving Southwest Florida’s natural treasures – our water, land and wildlife.”
Today, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida offers a unique opportunity for its members and visitors to explore the beautiful area it saved more than 50 years ago. Conservancy naturalists and a Coast Guard certified captain will guide you through Rookery Bay aboard the Good Fortune II, a comfortable 35-passenger pontoon boat.
Good Fortune II adventures include daily “Mid-morning” and “Classic Sunset” cruises, as well as a selection of specialty cruises and private charters. Coast Guard certified boat captains, accompanied by trained naturalists, help spot and identify wildlife, and provide guests with an experience that is both relaxing and informative.
“The Good Fortune II offers residents and visitors a very intimate and personal way to learn about Southwest Florida’s environment,” Moher said. “Taking a ride through the mangroves, guests might spot a dolphin, manatee or a bobcat. It’s a great adventure and you really gain an entirely new appreciation for Southwest Florida’s natural environment.”
The cost for Conservancy members is $37 (adult) and $15 (child); General admission is $47 (adult) and $20 (child). Private charters, which seat up to 40 guests, are $799 for Conservancy members and $899 general public. Cruises depart from Shell Island Road, last approximately two hours and are subject to weather conditions and tide.
For more information about Good Fortune II eco-cruises, call 239-213-2500 or visit www.conservancy.org/goodfortune.