Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Primer

What to take on the water:
Sunscreen, sunglasses, a floppy hat, a personal flotation device (Florida law requires a Coast Guard-approved, readily accessible PFD), insect repellent, a compass, a map, binoculars, a cell phone, a whistle, water shoes (to protect your feet from sharp shells), and plenty of drinking water.

Places to stay along the trail:
Tropic Star of Pine Island Jug Creek Cottages, Pine Island (239-283-0015); Bokeelia Tarpon Inn Bed & Breakfast, Pine Island (, 239-283-8961); and Lovers Key Resort, Fort Myers Beach (, 239-765-1040).

Camping is currently permitted at Cayo Costa Island, Picnic Island, and Koreshan State Historic Site (on the Estero River). Tip: During the off season - mid-January through April - many hotels offer discounts of up to 60 percent.

Places to eat:
Gramma Dot's Seaside Saloon, Sanibel Island (239-472-8138); Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House, Matlacha (239-283-0113); Moretti's Waterfront Seafood Restaurant, Matlacha (239-283-5825); and Barnacle Phil's, North Captiva Island (239-472-6394).

Things to do:
Visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island (, 239-472-1100); take a dolphin cruise with Captiva Cruises (, 239-472-5300); hunt for seashells on Bowman's Beach on Sanibel; take the African Queen Ferry from Pineland Marina to Cayo Costa State Park (, 239-283-0015); or head to Boca Grande Pass, just north of Pine Island, where some of the world's best tarpon fishing can be found.

Kayak Outfitters:
Gaea Guides, Fort Myers (, 866-256-6388); Royal Palm Tours, Fort Myers (800-296-0249); Tropic Star Cruises, Pine Island (, 239-283-0015); and Tarpon Bay Explorers, Sanibel Island (, 239-472-8900).

For area information:
Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (, 888-231-6933).

For paddling-trail info and downloadable maps: Blueway maps are also available from many hotels, state parks, and kayak outfitters.