Kayak at the Great Calusa Blueway

Aerial of kayakers on the Great Calusa Blueway

Sanibel and Captiva Islands play host to a wide assortment of fun things to do, and most of them involve the water in some way. Between the exciting sailing adventures and the fun fishing charters, there’s always something to do over the cascading waves. And one of the top places to see is the Great Calusa Blueway.

So what is it? Where is it? What am I missing out on?

These are all fantastic questions. Book one of our white caps cottages Sanibel Island. And after you secure your stay, explore the finest of the island via its intricate and isolated waterways. 

What is the Great Calusa Blueway?

Despite popular belief, the Great Calusa Blueway is not a road causeway running along the island. It is, in fact, a very popular and well-trafficked kayak route that (sometimes) runs along the major road called the Sanibel Causeway.

It may be easy to mix up the two. Many visitors who explore the blueway will use the causeway and its many little beach stops and parks along the way. You can park in a free lot and drop into the water via the kayak drop-in. Pick up the causeway anywhere along its route and have an amazing time!

Where Does the Route Go?

Group of kayakers in the mangroves in Sanibel Island FL

The entire route is known to be divided into three main phases. Phase one takes you to Estero Bay, with its wide-open waters and sensational views. You may spot shell mounds, piles of ancient smashed shells, collecting along the banks. Pine Island and Matlacha Pass are both parts of the second phase, as it features tighter waters and denser marshland. Here you’ll catch parts of the iconic J.N. Ding Darling National Refuge. Especially ambitious kayakers can utilize the third and final phase inland through Caloosahatchee and its tributaries, home to many freshwater turtles, and thick oaks hanging over the water.

Throughout all phases, keep an eye out for manatee and dolphin, both quite prevalent. It would take you days to venture along the entire route, so don’t get too carried away!

How Can you Access the Route?

Calusa Blueway Outfitters is one of the best places to access the water safely and soundly. The shop and rental provider has items for sale you can use on your trip, as well as water maps and souvenirs. The team offers affordable kayak rentals starting at around $20 per hour. You will find both double and single kayaks.

The shop is located at 10901 Palm Beach Blvd. The Great Calusa Blueway Outfitters is located right near one of the best places to eat in Sanibel. This is the Mix Italian Grill. Be sure to check out the diner, alongside some other top island spots, during your stay.

Kayaks stacked up waiting to be used in Sanibel Island

Depending on where you want to traverse, you can find a variety of places to access the water. Koreshan State Historic Site is a fantastic place if you love island history. It gives you a firsthand look at the work of Dr. Cyrus Teed and his special community. We also recommend the massive Lovers Key State Park. There are three different kayak drop-in points in the park. It is known for its quiet isolation and air of romance.

For a local option, we highly recommend using Castaways, Canoe & Kayak Rental Service. Stop by for some dinner after the trip. The rental service is located right by the famous Mad Hatter Restaurant on Sanibel.

Finally, many visitors utilize Bowditch Point Regional Park. The park itself offers large pavilions and plenty of shade. 

These are all brilliant and accessible ways to enjoy some classic Sanibel kayaking. The blueway is grand, epic, and worth a visit. 

Where to Stay?

Looking for a place to call home- at least for a little while? We have an exemplary list of top-rated Captiva vacation rentals. Check out the full list to select your next vacation escape.