01 November 2020
The annual Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival showcases kayaking and ecoevents along the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel in Southwest Florida’s waterways. For dates of the fall festival, click here. The 10-day festival offers a variety of speakers and instruction, cultural and eco festivals, competitive races and tournaments, paddlers’ get-togethers and green activities. Events are at public parks and archeological sites as well as resorts and campgrounds along the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, a 190-mile marked-and-meandering saltwater trail.
The trail spans the Lee County coast from Bonita Springs to Pine Island and inland to Alva. Fishing for snook, redfish and seatrout is available all along the trail.. Hotels usually offer special packages to participants, including ready-at-sunrise box lunches and access to ice machines and hoses. The festival is part of Islands Fall Fest. Campgrounds along the trail are another option with the opportunity for a guided tour with the Florida Paddling Trail Association to historic Mound Key, an island once inhabited by the Calusa king.
Paddlers can also attend the Calusa Costume Ball dressed as a conquistador or sea wench and then hear ghost stories on a moonlight hike. Festival attendees also have the chance to get competitive with two canoe/kayak races and a catch-and-release fishing tournament, some with cash prizes. Visitors can give back to the community by joining in a countywide waterway marine debris cleanup called Monofilament Madness. Or to make a donation to the trail and get a Blueway Wristband to enjoy extra value at 81 of Southwest Florida’s attractions, restaurants, galleries and marine/outfitter locations.