Best Places to Go Kayaking in Naples and Bonita Springs — Naples Florida Travel Guide

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Best Places to Go Kayaking in Naples and Bonita Springs

Thinking of kayaking Naples but aren’t sure where to go or which Naples kayak rentals are the best? This guide has you covered.

Southwest Florida is a nature lover’s paradise, and while some of the amazing natural sights and breathtaking wildlife can be seen by car or on foot, more often than not you’ll need a boat or a kayak for the best view.

Which is why kayaking Naples and the waterways around Bonita Springs, Wiggins Pass, Estero Bay, and Naples Bay is just about as much fun as a paddler can stand.

Even if you’re not hardcore, kayaking in Naples Florida for just a few hours is a perfect thing to do in Naples and a great way to discover the unique Everglades ecosystem in Naples.

What’s In This Post

Where to Rent Kayaks in Bonita Springs & Estero

Kayak Rentals in Naples

Kayaking in Naples: Estero, Bonita Springs, & North Naples

Where to Go Kayaking in Naples: Central & East Naples

Naples kayaking is a great way to experience the local Everglades ecosystem

Kayaking in Naples Florida

The best places to go kayaking in Naples and the surrounding areas range from mangrove estuaries and backwater inlets to popular stretches of beaches and small barrier islands.

Naples kayaking is so good here because there’s water, water everywhere!

If you’re so inclined, you could paddle your way from Estero Island down through the backwaters of Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area and up the Imperial River.

From there, you can start again at the upper end of the Gordon River, make your way down to Naples Bay and Keewaydin Island and Dollar Bay.

Eventually you’ll pass through Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and into the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge – all this without ever leaving your kayak!

If you’re looking for where to go kayaking in Naples and the surrounding areas, this article has what you need.

Naples Kayak Rentals

Let’s start with where to rent your kayaks for a few hours or a few days.

There are several good places for Naples kayak rentals in Estero and Hickory Bay down to south Naples.

Most kayak rental companies will arrange to deliver your kayak rentals to Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs, Naples, and Marco Island.

Kayak Rentals Near Estero & Bonita Springs

Bonita Paddles • (239) 963-4385

Estero River Outfitters • (239) 992-4050

Finseeker Guided Adventures • (239) 682-3134

Kayak Rentals in Naples

Paddle Naples Tours & Rentals • (239) 301-8888

All Naples Kayak Rentals • (239) 210-9116

Naples Kayak Company • (239) 262-6149

Kayaking in Naples: Estero, Bonita, & North Naples

Estero Bay

Put In:

Upper Estero Bay: Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Rd, Estero, FL

Mid Bay: New Pass Bridge Kayak Launch, Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL

Mid Bay: Lovers Key Boat Ramp, 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL

When kayaking in Estero Bay, you’ll have lots of options.

You can simply kayak around the open parts of the bay — perfect for beginners just trying to get used to the paddling motion and the movement of the currents.

When you feel confident enough, you can even kayak over to some nearby offshore islands to look for shells!

At the upper part of Estero Bay, paddle to Mound Key, an interesting archeological site, or around Estero Bay Preserve State Park, the first aquatic nature preserve established in Florida.

This 10,000-acre Florida State Park consists of the water, inlets, and islands along 10 miles of Estero Bay.

If you’re a paddler who loves interesting history, kayak Estero Bay down the Estero River.

Paddle past the lush greenery and friendly turtles on a short, yet fun kayaking adventure to Koreshan State Historic Site, one of the most fascinating historic attractions in the area.

Explore the site for free before heading back out and retracing your steps.

If you’re starting out at the Park or camping at the site, you can rent kayaks there.

Single kayak rentals are $10 first hour, $5 additional hours. Tandem rentals are $15 first hour, $10 additional hours.

At the southwest end of New Pass Bridge there is a canoe and kayak launch just south of the Bonita Beach Dog Park, where you can paddle around to Pelican Landing Beach Park and explore Big Hickory Island.

Last but certainly not least, you can kayak into Lovers Key State Park.

This is a great place to go kayaking from Fort Myers as it’s close to Fort Myers Beach.

With its winding waterways, lovely scenery, and secluded shorelines, Lovers Key State Park is a kayaker’s dream!

You can launch your own kayak at the Lovers Key Boat Ramp off Estero Blvd, or rent kayaks at the Lovers Key Kayak Pavillion and paddle the 2.5 mile long mangrove-protected estuary.

Regardless of which option you choose, try kayaking Estero Bay at sunset — it’s one of the best times to kayak with the beautiful pastel-colored sky and late afternoon calm waters.

Could you ask for a more picture-perfect scene?

Paddling around Lovers Key is some of the best Naples Florida kayaking

Imperial River

Put In:

  • Riverside Park, 10450 Reynolds St, Bonita Springs, FL

  • Depot Park, 10375 Pennsylvania Ave, Bonita Springs, FL

  • Imperial River Kayak Launch, 27551 S Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, FL

Most visitors to Naples and the nearby area have no idea that they can kayak down the Imperial River.

This hidden Bonita Springs gem is one that many locals don’t even know about!

Part of the Estero Bay Region of the Great Calusa Blueway, the Imperial River runs east to west about 9 miles from Flint Pen Strand Preserve through Bonita Springs to Estero Bay, with the most scenic paddling on the upper freshwater portion.

It’s definitely a fantastic spot to add to your list of where to go hiking in Naples.

To get kayaking on the Imperial River, start at Riverside Park in downtown Bonita Springs.

This lovely park has half a dozen adorable Artist Cottages, one of which includes a kayak rental business.

There’s also a free launch site at Depot Park adjacent to Riverside Park.

From here, you can head west along the river for the next nine miles towards the Gulf of Mexico, or head east to.

You’ll be going against the current, but that just means your journey back will be a whole lot easier.

Heading east will show you a more commercial part of Old Bonita Springs.

As you kayak along the Imperial River, there are so many sights for you to see.

From the launch site, you’ll see the famous Everglades Wonder Gardens across the river, followed by lots of flitting Florida birds, knotty cypress trees, and adorable waterfront parks.

Want to get closer to the Gulf? The Imperial River Kayak Launch is just off Rt. 41 and gets you much closer to the Gulf and saltwater.

Parking is $5.

Wherever your launch point, at the end you’ll be greeted by the beauty of Fish Trap Bay and Estero Bay.

If by some miracle you still have some energy left, you can spend a bit of time kayaking the bay as well.

We suggest rewarding yourself with a cold one from your pack then let the current take you back down the Imperial River to your starting point.

We bet your best friend would love to go kayaking in Naples too!

Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area and Cocohatchee River

Put In:

  • Cocohatchee River Park, 13535 Vanderbilt Dr, Naples, FL

  • Barefoot Beach canoe and kayak launch, 505 Barefoot Beach Blvd, Bonita Springs, FL

Explore Wiggins Pass and the surrounding Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area in a kayak where you can launch from two points and paddle through mangrove tunnels.

On the upper Bay, launch your kayak at the Barefoot Beach canoe and kayak launch, or further down Vanderbilt Drive at the 7-acre Cocohatchee River Park and explore the Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area straight out to Wiggins Pass and the Gulf of Mexico.

There are several places to put in here including the Collier County Public Boat Ramp.

Once you clear the Pelican Isle Condos and Yacht Club, you’ll have several small mangrove islands and tunnels to explore, wildlife to see, and two of Southwest Florida’s most beautiful beaches, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park and Barefoot Beach Preserve, all within reach.

Several local kayak tour companies launch kayak tours from the Park including Finseeker Guided Adventures.

They rent kayaks for self-guided exploration with daily and weekly rates — but reservations are a MUST!

They also run several unique kayak tours from Estero Bay and Lovers Key down to the Ten Thousand Islands.

Where to Go Kayaking in Naples: Central & East Naples

Gordon River

Put In:

  • Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1590 Goodlette-Frank Rd, Naples, FL

One great thing about kayaking Naples Florida is you don’t have to go far to be able to launch and explore.

The Gordon River near the Naples Zoo is one such place.

In central Naples, across from the Coastland Mall on Goodlette-Frank Road at the back of the Naples Zoo parking lot you’ll find a launch for kayaks and canoes along with a nice storage rack.

Parking is free and there are public restrooms close to the launch.

The launch site provides access to the Gordon River that makes its way through the Gordon River Greenway Park.

The river ultimately connects to the Golden Gate Canal which flows into Naples Bay then seven miles downstream to Gordon Pass and on into the Gulf of Mexico.

Meandering through mangroves, scrub, and pines the southwest Florida ecosystem is on full display. Wading birds are seen along the banks of the river and ospreys glide overhead.

An occasional manatee or two are often spotted feeding as they slowly move along.

It’s a great experience from the quietness of your kayak.

Naples Kayak Rentals near the Gordon River

You can explore the Gordon River by booking a guided kayak tour at least 48 hours in advance at through the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The Conservancy is adjacent to the zoo on Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples.

It’s worthwhile to take the tour as a guide will point out things that you might not otherwise see, and the fee helps to support conservation efforts.

Tours are $20 for single and $40 for tandem.

Or, become a member of the Conservancy and you can do a 2 hour unguided paddle at your own pace by booking online.

Kayaking at Clam Pass Beach in Naples

Clam Pass

Put In:

  • Clam Pass Beach, 465 Seagate Dr, Naples, FL

Clam Pass is a truly unique part of Naples — a cluster of entangled mangroves located in central Naples that encompasses one of the prettiest beaches in Naples and a twisty winding backwater lagoon that empties into Outer Clam Bay.

It’s a great example of Naples’ impressive ecosystems and one of the best places to go kayaking in Naples.

Head to the Naples Grande Beach Resort at the end of Seagate Drive, and park in the parking lot at the end.

After paying to park, you can either walk the nearly half mile path to the end at Clam Pass or take the tram from the parking lot which arrives and departs ever 15 minutes.

Rent kayaks at Rhode’s End at the end of the Clam Pass Beach Pass. You can rent by the hour or for the whole day.

You’ll start out paddling in the Gulf for a while then turn right into the backwater lagoon and enjoy the calm waters around Clam Pass.

You can paddle further into Outer Clam Bay if you’d like, but plan to be close to the mouth of the inlet to catch a fiery Naples sunset.

Kayak rentals must be returned by sunset.

Kayaking the mangrove tunnels near Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area and Cocohatchee Park

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Put In:

  • Isle of Capri Paddle Craft Park, 1295 Capri Blvd, Naples, FL

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, simply known as Rookery Bay, is a 110,000-acre mangrove forest, uplands, and protected estuary between Naples and Marco Island at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands.

Thanks to its thriving fauna and stunning blue waters, it’s one of the best places to go kayaking near Naples to appreciate the diverse Everglades ecosystem.

As its name suggests, Rookery Bay is the place to see birds, from anhingas, belted kingfishers, bald eagles, cormorants, screech owls, and many more.

Depending on the time of year and day, paddling alongside dolphins is practically an everyday occurrance.

All kayaking in Rookery Bay starts from the Isle of Capri Paddle Craft Park.

When this park was made in 2012, it was built just for kayakers and paddlers.

Although it’s very easy to get from the Isle of Capri Paddle Craft Park to Rookery Bay, things can get confusing as you paddle Rookery Bay — the trails and tunnels are not marked and everything starts looking the same.

We highly recommend booking a kayaking tour rather than venturing out on your own.

A local Naturalist or Biologist guide can show you the best places and some wildlife we guarantee you’ll paddle over or next to without ever realizing it’s there!

Paddling Rookery Bay is a big reason kayaking in Naples is so good

When you’re deciding where to go kayaking in Naples, there are so many great options to choose from.

Whether you’re hoping to kayak in the ocean, along a river, through mangrove tunnels, or a swampy marshland, there’s an option that’s fantastic for you.

We hope this Guide to Kayaking in Naples Florida helps you find some great places to explore and narrow the choices on the best kayak rentals Naples FL has to offer!

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