* Bird Watching
* Nature/Walking Trails
* Wildlife Viewing
Typically, ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. It also involves travel to places where flora and wildlife are the primary attractions and usually involves visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas. The City of Cape Coral is fortunate to have several nature parks and areas where people can observe a variety of creatures and plant life in their natural environments. The most popular locations for these types of activities include:
* Rotary Park & Environmental Center - This 97-acre park is included as part of "The Great Florida Birding Trail" and is the home base for Cape Coral's environmental recreation program.
* Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve - This 365 acre park features a walking trail and boardwalk, seasonal kayak rentals (Nov-May), a visitor center, Veterans Memorial area and is home to a variety of birds and other species year-round.
* Sirenia Vista Park - This park features an observation deck for viewing manatees at certain times of the year, a fishing area, and a kayak launch that provides public access to the Calusa Blueway thru Matlacha.
Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, Rotary Park has a rugged trail that is less than one mile long and passes through uplands & salt marshes. Possible wildlife sightings include gopher tortoises, alligators, snakes and a large variety of wading & migratory birds. At times, sections of this trail may be underwater, particularly during the rainy season, so visitors should wear appropriate footwear.
Also at Rotary Park is a trail known as the Glover Bight Trail. This is a boardwalk, so it is wheelchair accessible; it passes through mangrove wetlands and ends at Glover Bight. Glover Bight is a broad area of oyster bars & shallow flats that is a good area to view wading birds, especially during low tide. Both trails have observation towers that people can climb to get a bird’s eye view of the area. (Note: as of 2011 the older tower at Rotary Park is no longer open to the public...check back for updates on the progress of the new tower) A good time of day to come to the park is early in the morning. Walk quietly for the best chance to see wildlife. Please keep in mind these are nature trails so no running, biking, or dogs are permitted on the trails.
Rotary Bird Sightings:
The following is a list of bird species that have been spotted at Rotary Park. If you would like to add your sightings to the list please e-mail the information to: email@example.com:
|Common Moorhen||Great Egret||Wood Stork||Red-bellied Woodpecker|
|American Wigeon||Snowy Egret||Greater Yellowlegs||Downey Woodpecker|
|Mottled Duck||Cattle Egret||Lesser Yellowlegs||Pileated Woodpecker|
|Pied-billed Grebe||Double-crested Comorant||White Ibis||Common Ground-Dove|
|Blue-winged Teal||Anhinga||Osprey||Mourning Dove|
|Green-winged Teal||Little Blue Heron||Red-shouldered Hawk||Palm Warbler|
|Roseate Spoonbill||Great Blue Heron||Bald Eagle||Prairie Warbler|
|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Tri-colored Heron||Turkey Vulture||Yellow-rumped Warbler|
|Great Crested Flycatcher||Northern Cardinal||Black Vulture||Gray Catbird|
|Reddish Egret||Northern Mockingbird||Eastern Phoebe||Common Grackle|
|Common Gallinule||Laughing Gull||Yellow-throated Warbler||Brown Thrasher|
|American Coot||Belted Kingfisher||White Pelican||Purple Martin|
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Fishing is a popular sport that provides people with an opportunity to relax, get away from everyday stresses, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the great outdoors. With Florida being the “Fishing Capital of the World,” and laying claim to more anglers than any other state (2.8 million), it is no wonder that residents and visitors alike are often looking for places to fish in Cape Coral!
With its vast canal system and convenient location on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, Cape Coral offers several fishing opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater activity; however, it is important that people be aware of, and adhere to Florida fishing license requirements and laws prior to dropping their lines in the water in order to avoid potential citations.
The best source of information for current fishing rules and regulations, license fees, exemptions, measurements, seasons, species, and other “fish facts” both for saltwater and freshwater fishing is the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website at www.MyFWC.com.
The State Legislature sets fishing license fees and exemptions, as well as penalties for violating fish and wildlife conservation laws. Recreational licenses and permits for residents and nonresidents are available at county tax collectors' offices, and from subagents, such as sporting goods stores or other retailers selling hunting or fishing equipment. Licenses may also be obtained over the telephone by dialing toll-free, 1-888 FISH FLORIDA (347-4356), or online at www.MyFWC.com/. For additional recreational licensing information, visit www.MyFWC.com/license or call your local county tax collector office.
Fishing Locations in Cape Coral
Below is a list of approved fishing locations within Cape Coral's parks and the hours that people are permitted to fish:
|Bernice Braden Park||Shoreline & Under Bridge||24 hours|
|Four Freedoms Park||Seawall Area||24 hours|
|Four Mile Cove Eco Preserve||Two Piers||Daylight only|
|Glover Bight at Rotary Park||End of Boardwalk||Daylight only|
|Horton Park & Boat Ramp||River Shoreline||24 hours|
|Jaycee Park||Shoreline||Daylight only|
|Lake Kennedy Park||Two Small Piers||Daylight only|
|Rosen Park||Seawall Area||24 hours|
|Seahawk Park (Lake Argosy)||Around Lake||Daylight only|
|Sirenia Vista Park||Shoreline||Daylight only|
|Yacht Club Community Park||Fishing Pier||24 hours|
Angler’s Code of Ethics
While fishing can be relaxing and fun, please adhere to the following code of ethics (provided by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Committee) to be respectful of the environment and to help make the sport more enjoyable for yourself and those who come after you:
- Support conservation efforts
- Practice effective catch-and-release of fish that are unwanted or prohibited to retain
- Don’t pollute; Recycle and dispose of trash and monofilament
- Practice safe angling and boating, including hook awareness and use of personal flotation devices (PFDs);
- Learn and obey fishing and boating rules and regulations, and purchase the appropriate licenses
- Respect other anglers’ and boaters’ rights
- Respect property owners’ rights and do not trespass
- Share fishing knowledge and skills with others
- Don’t release live bait into waters or spread exotic plants and fish
- Promote ethical sport fishing and encourage others to reconnect on the water
With so much water located in and around Cape Coral, kayaking is a popular activity enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. For those individuals who are looking to get in on the excitement but don’t have a kayak of their own, the Parks & Recreation Department offers kayak rentals at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve seasonally on Saturdays from early November through late May. During regular operating hours, the Kayak Shack Outpost offers single and tandem kayak rentals, however, the trail is intricate in nature and includes an 800-foot portage, so is not intended for beginners or children under the age of six.
--> Click here for more information about the Kayak Shack and rental rates
In addition to kayak rentals at Four Mile Cove, the environmental recreation division of the Parks & Recreation Department offers various kayaking programs throughout the year for both beginner and advanced skill levels. For more information, see the current program guide or contact Rotary Park Environmental Center at (239) 549-4606.
For those who have their own kayak (or canoe) and wish to explore the area on their own, there are several parks located in Cape Coral where people are permitted to launch their vessels from. These locations include:
- BMX Boat Ramp – Launches into Shelburne Canal which connects with several freshwater canals as well as Alhambra Lake, Lake Kennedy and Saratoga Lake.
- Burnt Store Boat Ramp – Launches into Rosemary Canal (saltwater) which connects with several canals and leads to Matlacha Pass
- Chantry Canal / Rosen Park – Launches into Chantry Canal (saltwater) which connects with the Caloosahatchee River north of the mid-point bridge
- Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve – This launch is located adjacent to the Kayak Shack and allows Kayakers to access the various creeks located within the preserve and Four Mile Cove located on the Caloosahatchee River (saltwater) just north of the mid-point bridge. Within Four Mile Cove, floating kayak docks have been constructed to provide people with places to rest or use as weather shelters.
- Horton Park Boat Ramp – Launches into Everest Canal (saltwater) which connects with the Caloosahatchee River just south of the mid-point bridge
- Saratoga Lake Park - Kayakers can use the ADA accessible kayak ramp to launch their vessel to access Lake Saratoga and Lake Kennedy (freshwater)
- Seahawk Park – Kayakers and boaters are permitted to use the ramp located on the north side of Argosy Lake (freshwater)
- Sirenia Vista – Kayakers can use the ADA accessible kayak ramp to launch their vessels and access the Caloosa Blueway (saltwater)
- Yacht Club Boat Ramp – Launches into Redfish Cove (saltwater), which is a part of the Caloosahatchee River
Also located in Cape Coral and the surrounding areas is the popular Great Calusa Blueway, which encompasses three distinct regions of the Gulf of Mexico coast ranging from open waters to sheltered mangrove creeks.
--> Click here to get more information on the Great Calusa Blueway including maps & tips
Prior to kayaking, canoeing or boating, it is recommended that people familiarize themselves with boating safety and etiquette. This information can be obtained through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at (239) 549-1027. Some special rules apply to kayak fishing, so those who wish to enjoy this sport should visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website at www.MyFWC.com for current regulations.
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If you are looking to get some exercise while taking in the scenery and enjoying nature, Cape Coral Parks and Recreation offers multiple locations where you can have an enjoyable outdoor adventure. The below parks are open from sunrise to 9:00 p.m. daily. (Click on the park name(s) to view amenities and get directions):
- Jaycee Park – This popular park, located along the banks of the scenic Caloosahatchee River, has a mostly shaded 3/10 mile paved walking path along the river, where visitors can spot birds and various marine life.
- Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve – This large nature park has a 6600’ nature trail and boardwalk plus two observation piers. Since this is a nature preserve, no running, bikes, dogs, skating or rollerblading is permitted. Wildlife sightings are possible, keeping in mind that being slow and quiet will improve your chances of seeing wildlife behaving naturally in their environment. Guided and special hikes are available several times during the year. See the current Parks & Recreation program guide for details.
- Rotary Park - Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, Rotary Park has a rugged trail that is less than one mile long and passes through uplands & salt marshes. During the rainy season, be advised that parts of the trail may be underwater, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Since this is a nature trail, no running, biking, or dogs are permitted on the trail. Wildlife sightings are possible here as well, but the secret is to come early and walk quietly for the best chance to see creatures in their environment.
- Glover Bight - Glover Bight Trail is a 3/10 mile boardwalk trail, located within Rotary Park which is wheelchair accessible. The trail passes through mangrove wetlands and ends at Glover Bight, an area of oyster bars and shallow flats that is a great place to view wading birds, especially during low tide.
- Saratoga Lake Park - This five-acre neighborhood park has a 3/10 mile paved walking path around it to enjoy a beautiful lake view as well as resident burrowing owls.
- Sirenia Vista Park - This 8-acre environmental park, with a paved walking path around the perimeter, is a great place to enjoy viewing manatees, especially in the cooler months, as well as various birds and marine life.
- Yellow Fever Creek Preserve - Totaling 535 acres, the Yellow Fever Creek property is part of a partnership with Lee County. Included with the City's 2018 GO Bond referendum, Yellow Fever Creek Preserve will eventually be a fantastic nature preserve with plans for hiking and equestrian trails, primitive campsites and a visitor center. Undeveloped & not yet open to the public. To view future site plans, visit the Lee County Conservation 20/20 website.
The subtropical climate of Southwest Florida allows for an incredible variety of wildlife such as exotic birds, alligators, manatees, and dolphins to name a few. Pick up a copy of "The Nature of Cape Coral" Wildlife Viewing Map and/or see below for a list of Cape Coral locations where wildlife can be viewed in their natural environments:
- Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve: SE 23rd Terrace
As the largest nature preserve in Cape Coral, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve encompasses 365 acres of wildness that serve as home to a variety of flora, fauna, and wildlife.
- Resident Wildlife: Wading birds, migrant songbirds, waterfowl, gopher tortoises, dolphins, various reptiles, and amphibians.
- Rotary Park Environmental Center: 5505 Rose Garden Blvd, (239) 549-4606
This park, which is set on 97 acres of natural beauty, is considered the “Great Florida Birding Site." As part of the Florida Birding Trail, birdwatching is an extremely popular activity at Rotary Park.
- Resident Wildlife: Wading birds, raptors, migrant songbirds, butterflies, foxes and other mammals.
- Saratoga Lake Park: 170 SE 4th Terrace
- Resident Wildlife: Burrowing Owls
- Sirenia Vista Park: Ceitus Parkway & Old Burnt Store Road
- Resident Wildlife: Manatees abundant November – February, occasionally rest of the year.
- Strausser BMX Sports Complex: 1410 SW 6th Place
- Resident Wildlife: Active Bald Eagle nest
- Veterans Park: 4140 Coronado Parkway
- Resident Wildlife: Burrowing Owls
Please be advised that there is proper etiquette to follow when viewing wildlife:
- Observe posted rules for safe distances while viewing wildlife.
- Getting close enough to an animal to make it react is too close, and you should back away immediately.
- You may approach as close as 33 ft to an owl’s burrow but must remain 150 feet from an eagle’s nest.
- Please DO NOT feed the wildlife!
- There are stiff penalties for wildlife harassment, especially for threatened species.
- Wildlife is best enjoyed when one is quietly observing their natural behavior.
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For more information on environmental recreation programs and opportunities in Cape Coral, contact Rotary Park at (239) 549-4606.
If you encounter an issue in one of Cape Coral's parks, please contact the Cape Coral Police Department's non-emergency line at (239) 574-3223.