Day Trip Destination: Mound Key State Archaeological Park

Paddle your way through the mangroves and go exploring at Mound Key!

Paddle your way through the mangroves and go exploring at Mound Key!

Southwest Florida has many small, uninhabited mangrove islands that are great for paddlers to explore.  Mound Key, just south of Fort Myers Beach, looks similar to the other islands around it but has a special history. This isolated, 125-acre state park was once the center of the thriving Calusa Indian civilization.

This island is one of the stops along Lee County’s 190-mile Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail. The easiest way to get to the island is by launching from Lovers Key. The journey from Lovers Key to Mound Key is about five miles round trip. Keep in mind that there will be a half-mile open water crossing, so check the weather conditions before you launch. It is a beautiful paddle, with amazing views of Estero Bay, the surrounding mangrove islands, and an abundance of wildlife.

Even though the island hasn't been inhabited by the Calusa since the 1500’s, signs of their largest compound are still present today. Mound Key is thick with native trees and plants, with two small beaches where paddlers can land. Feel free to beach on the sand and walk the trail into the island to see the surprisingly tall shell mounds for yourself. Don’t forget to say hello to the goats that call Mound Key home - yes, there are goats. You do not need to travel far to have a unique and memorable paddling experience in Southwest Florida!

Ocean Tribe Outfitters is a branch of Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.