Two Faces of Caladesi Island

Our great family time in Spokane came to an end, and we boarded Southwest Airlines to fly south east. One flight attendant had a silly smile on her mask… otherwise the flights were pretty unremarkable.

When we arrived in 80 degree weather, from a couple of weeks in freezing temperatures, we naturally had to celebrate with a kayak exploration trip!

We headed for Caladesi Island… maybe a couple miles offshore on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The island you see in the next picture is Bird Island, about half way to Caladesi. Caladesi is on the horizon.

We had to stretch our legs on Bird Island…

Caladesi was home to Native Americans long before the Spanish took control of this area in the 1500’s. During the American Revolution, the British ruled this part of Florida, and then the Spanish took it back. The U.S. acquired it in 1821, and Florida became a state in 1875.

In the 1880’s a Swiss naturalist Henry Scharrer, established a 156 acre homestead on the island. His daughter Myrtle was born here, and remembers rowing to the mainland to attend school. She wrote a book: Yesteryear I lived in Paradise.

Now the north part of the island is surrounded by sandbars, and it is popular with boaters who can anchor in a foot or two of water and party on the boat or beach. Weekends seem to be very crowded, with a wild assortment of boats, partiers and music.

100 yards south of the sandbar area seems a whole different world… no powerboats allowed, no music can be heard, and the birds seem to rule the island. In the picture below, you see Bird Island towards the left, and the mainland on the horizon.

We docked our kayak in the island’s marina, to pay our $2 per person landing fee. It turns out the ranger’s office was closed, so we spent more than that on chips.

A warning about rattlesnakes makes touring by kayak more appealing than sandals on snake paths…

The island boasts a couple “Mangrove Tunnels” that are fun to navigate. Some of the twists and turns made us feel our kayak is really long.

By the time we got back to the mainland, we felt we’d gotten adequate exercise! Here is our kayak with Bird Island visible behind.

On our daily walks, we have seen a sign about a Farmer’s Market on weekends near here. We are so used to so many cool things being closed, that we figured the sign was just old. We finally decided to find it, and it was open and fun! Fresh picked veggies and strawberries, and even some great preserves!


  1. are you ever concerned about punctures on your canoe? Fun day ending with beautiful produce!

    • Sure, I’ve wondered what puncture resistance it really has… rocks? Sticks? Alligator teeth? Still testing!

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