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Southwest Florida

Florida's Gulf Coast Beaches, Parks and Preserves

Southwest Florida is unique in many ways and having some of the best beaches in the world is only the start. Sanibel Island resorts offer luxurious accommodations perfect for the shelling enthusiast and those tuned into nature. Marco Island resorts feature quiet and secluded condominiums overlooking the Gulf of Mexico -- taking you far away from everyday hustle and bustle. Fort Myers Beach resorts have the best of everything, fine resorts with all of the amenities and close to more active nighttime more »

Naples Area Beaches - List of Naples beaches

Marco Island Beaches
Locations of Marco Island beaches, hours, facilities available - including Tigertail Beach, Residents Beach and South Beach

Big Cypress National Preserve
Winter is the ideal season for visiting the Big Cypress National Preserve. The weather is relatively mild during the winter months, and it is also the dry season. Dry is a relative term in the cypress strands, however; be prepared to wade through some shallow water on the trails. The Oasis Visitors Center, open daily from 8:30 to 4:30, is located in the heart of the Preserve, off the Tamiami Trail, US highway 41. Take in the short film on the region and ask about the various ranger-led activities. During the winter months, ranger lead walks through featured trails and offer campfire programs and canoe trips down the Turner River to Chokoloskee Bay, where you'll share the water with alligators, egrets and ibis. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of a purple gallinule, ostentatiously dressed in teal feathers and crowned in bright blue. Canoeists may also make the four-hour trip more about Big Cypress National Preserve in Southwest Florida >>

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is characterized by lush tropical vegetation. Rare orchids, bromeliad, royal palms, and cypress intermix with stands of oaks, cabbage palms, and gumbo limbo. Slash pine with saw palmetto understory lie adjacent to wet prairies blooming with glades lobelia, tickseed and prairie milkweed. This diversity of habitats depends upon the seasonal dry and wet cycles that define the south Florida climate. Summer brings daily rain showers that flood much of the refuge. The water slowly sheet-flows across the flat landscape. This water is not only the lifeblood of the refuge, but recharges the underground aquifers that supply the refuge's urban neighbors. As the days shorten, the daily rain showers disappear, and for the next six months the wet prairies and swamps dry out. more about Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Florida >>

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge includes over 6,300 acres of habitat, with 2,825 acres designated as Wilderness, and 950 acres of submerged habitat in the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area. The refuge informs and educates over 800,000 visitors annually in its 12,000 square foot Environmental Education Center and four-mile long Wildlife Drive. The refuge is home to 238 bird species, 51 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 32 species of mammals native to southwest more about J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island Florida >>

Pine Island National Wildlife Refuge
The 500-acre refuge has been expanded to over 17 islands and consists of densely forested red and black mangroves with little uplands habitat. Indian shell mounds located on Benedict Island show evidence of Calusa Indians once inhabiting the area at the time of European exploration. Several of the islands, including Hemp Island and Bird Key, are important nesting and roosting areas for colonial birds, particularly the Brown more about Pine Island National Wildlife Refuge north of Sanibel Island Florida >>

Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
A maze of mangrove islands and waterways defines the Ten Thousands Islands National Wildlife Refuge. These islands, covered in dark green mangrove trees, serve as roosts for birds and nurseries for fish. Narrow beaches, shaded by sea grapes, gumbo limbo, and Jamaican dogwood, lie along the Gulf of Mexico. On all of the islands, black mangroves with their pencil-shaped pneumatophores mix with red mangroves with their tangled prop roots and the less salt-tolerant white mangroves. North of the mangrove forests is the fresh and brackish water marshes that are carpeted with cattails, bulrushes, cordgrass, and black needle rush. Small ponds and prairies intermix with white and red mangrove saplings. Small islands in the northern part of the refuge provide enough high ground for slash pine, live oak cabbage palms and pigeon more about Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge near Everglades City Florida >>

Caloosahatchee Regional Park