Take an Eco-Cruise with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Summer has started to last longer and longer in Florida. This year, even though the humidity is mostly gone, it is going to be hot until Thanksgiving.
What do you do with all of this extra summertime? If you are looking for a memorable, unique experience in Southwest Florida, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's eco-cruise through Rookery Bay is exactly that!
Located just south of Naples, Rookery Bay is one of the few undisturbed mangrove estuaries left in the United States. It is one of only 28 National Estuarine Reserves. The 110,000-acres of open water contains interconnected bays, mangrove wetlands, lagoons, and streams; it's a habitat for a vast array of wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds. It offers a natural backdrop for education, and a laboratory for biologists, teachers, and students alike.
Protecting this threatened ecosystem was the first accomplishment of the Conservancy, founded by a group of concerned citizens, over 50 years ago.
"In 1964, the country wanted to extend what is now Bayshore Drive through the heart of Rookery Bay, through mangroves and barrier islands," explains Rob Moher, the Conservancy's president and CEO. "After two years of effort, what was then called the Collier County Conservancy raised funds to purchase 2,600 acres of land and save Rookery Bay. Our mission is much bigger today, but we still focus on preserving Southwest Florida's natural treasures--our water, land, and wildlife."
Today, the Conservancy offers a unique opportunity for members and visitors to explore the area--saved over 50 years ago. Naturalists from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and a Coast Guard certified captain will guide you through Rookery Bay aboard the Good Fortune II, a 35-passenger pontoon.
These adventures include "Mid-morning" and "Classic Sunset" cruises, as well as a selection of specialty cruises and private charters. Trained naturalists join the Coast Guard to help spot and identify wildlife, providing guests with a relaxing and informative experience.
"The Good Fortune II offers residents a very personal and intimate way to learn about Southwest Florida's environment," says Moher. "Taking a ride through the mangroves, guests might spot a dolphin, manatee, or bobcat. It's a great adventure and you really gain an entirely new appreciation for Southwest Florida's natural environment."
The cost for Conservancy members is $37 per adult and $15 per child. General admission is $47 for adults and $20 for children. Private charters, which seat up to 40 guests, cost $799 for members and $899 for the general public. The cruises depart from Shell Island Road, last around two hours, and (of course) are subject to weather conditions and tide.