CHOKOLOSKEE Island is Florida’s southernmost Gulf Coast. Just across the coast to the south lies 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Florida Everglades National Park, two of nature’s grandest wonderlands.
Chokoloskee is a fisherman’s paradise. Whether fishing inside the islands or the open water of the Gulf of Mexico, Chokoloskee offers a vast assortment of saltwater fish year ’round. It is a vastly popular area for kayaking with its sheltered mangrove islands. Sunsets here are amazing. The RV park we stayed in was beautiful, some spots had docks so you could fish right behind your motorhome. There is a boat ramp for motorboats and another ramp for kayaks. The park is surrounded on three sides by water. Want to stay here, make a reservation by calling 239-695-3788.
Just up the street about 1 block is the local restaurant called The Havana Cafe. Great food, Cold Beer and a nice patio.
A few miles from the RV park is the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Entrance. From there you can take two different water tours.
The Ten Thousand Island tour goes through the saltwater portion of the Everglades, the tour is fully narrated by a park trained naturalist as you weave through one of the worlds largest mangrove forest. Often seen are manatee’s, bald eagles, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, and the dolphins love to jump and play in the wake of the boat. The tour is an hour and a half and costs $31.80 (tax is included) for all above twelve. Twelve to five are $15.90 (tax is included) and four and under are free.
This tour goes through the dense swampy part of the Everglades and the water here is brackish. You have a good chance to see the alligator, raccoons, bob cat, mangrove fox squirrel and a variety of bird life including the mangrove cuckoo. This tour winds and twists through a tunnel of mangroves where the sun has trouble peaking through. The park trained naturalist explains all that you are seeing. The tours are one hour forty five minutes and the cost is $42.40 (tax is included) for everyone above twelve and $21.20 (tax is included) for all under twelve.
Here is where we took our Airboat ride. There are so many businesses to choose from all boasting something special, but in reality they all share the same areas to ride in so we just picked one that was recommended by a local resident. It’s called JUNGLE Erv’s AIRBOATS. Their big “perk” was to visit their Boardwalk and Alligator Exhibit. Don’t get too excited about that, it was actually just a boardwalk through the mangroves and they had a small alligator that you could touch or photograph. Frankly the only thing good about the boardwalk was something to do while you waited for your ride. Their photo on their website shows tall grass like you are going to ride through that like “Miami Vice” That is not where you will take your ride. It is either through the mangrove “tunnels” or through the waterways. It is worth the experience once, but we will likely never go a second time.
THE SMALLEST POST OFFICE IN THE NATION:
OCHOPEE, FLORIDA began as a small one family tomato farming community in the early 1920s. The Gaunt family bought land in the area for $100 per acre, and started with only army tents. It got its name when a visitor to the general store asked the owner what the place was called. A native man was trading in the store that day so the owner asked him what was the Seminole word for farm. He replied, “O-Chopp-ee”. After the original Post Office burned down residents used an old storage shed to house mail, which then became the smallest in the nation. Here is a photo of the building. It was Sunday so it was closed. But you practically had to stand in line to snap a photo. Cars with tourists were arriving every minute.
On this day we took the drive to Everglades Nat’l Park Flamingo area, near Homestead Florida. It was a long day but we saw lots of wildlife and made all the stops along the road to take photos of birds and alligators and just beautiful scenery. The campgrounds were full. There were many tent campers as well as RVs. It was President’s weekend. I was glad we didn’t stay there that weekend because it turned out to be a terrible wind and rain storm. I wonder how the tent campers survived that horrendous wind. Here are some of the critters we saw on the way through the park.
The other areas we explored were The Big Cypress National Preserve where we saw may Manatees and we drove for miles through the Fakahachee Strand Preserve State Park.
Want to enjoy great live music? While you are camped in this area, head over to GOODLAND, Florida on the weekends only for some amazing bands, dancing and partying. If you don’t like LOTS of people and loud music, don’t go. Also don’t take your RV because there is no place to park it. Check out STAN’S ILDE HOUR BEACH BAR
Needless to say I didn’t take any photos at STAN’S. There is a Web cam if you want a birds eye view of the party.