~Here’s the recipe for a great day in Florida.
Start with 80 degree winter weather in December and visiting friends or family.
Add a kayak trip on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, just north of Naples.
Walk on the beach, admiring shells and sand castles, while the sun sets.
That was my Sunday, and I recommend the combination.
I had earlier written about how delighted I was with a kayak trip on the Imperial River.Â Here are the details. This time, my husband and I brought along our two visiting daughters and we rented kayaks fromÂ Kayak Loco Outfitters, whichÂ operates out of Artist Cabin #6 in the Old Liles Hotel complex on the Imperial River. (It’s a beautifully landscaped historic spot in Old Bonita Springs.)
Last time we kayaked the Imperial River, we were accompanied by friendly manatees. We were not that lucky this time, though manatees had been seen in the river just two days earlier and are frequently seen there in winter.
We took our time kayaking the Imperial River, spending about three hours paddling up the river and back.
We saw herons, lots of turtles and some wonderful fat cypress trees Â with lots of personality. Most the the kayak trip is shaded, with live oaks forming a canopy overhead.
From there, it’s a 10-minute drive west to Barefoot Beach Preserve, a Collier County park that is one of the last undeveloped barrier islands. Here’s a previous story on Barefoot Beach Preserve.Â It has made Dr. Beach’s annual list of 10 best beaches in past years and our visit confirmed he’s right. Near the parking area there were lots of people. But within Â a short walk, crowds disappeared and it was just us and reeling sea birds, diving pelicans, gentle waves and golden sunset.
Both of these destinations are out-of-the-way spots worth discovering. Together, they make a perfect day.
More things to do in Bonita Springs
- Lovers Key State Park: Great beach, paddling and manatees
- Fort Myers Beach is a charming seaside getaway
- Barefoot Beach is on Southwest Floridaâ€™s wild side
- Clam Pass Park, a Naples beach where you ride the tide