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Manatees frequent the waters of Charlotte Harbor. (Photo by William Garvin) Osprey can be seen fishing the waters of Charlotte Harbor. A lone pine on the shore. A great blue heron forages for food.
Charlotte Harbor State Park
The sun sets over Charlotte Harbor. (Photo by Susan Priess)

History and Culture

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is rich in cultural resources from the pre- and post-Columbian cultures. Humans have used the lands surrounding Charlotte Harbor for thousands of years. Shell middens and mounds are the earliest most visible evidence of past use at the Preserve. Archaeological sites on public lands are protected by law. Acquisition of the Preserve lands began in the 1970s. In 2004, the management of the Preserve was transferred to the Florida Park Service and it is now called the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

Wildflowers bloom at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park


The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) is a non-profit corporation that has a visitor's center, and offers environmental education programs, interpretive guided hikes, and several miles of marked trails.

Two kayakers paddle along a shore of mangroves.


With more than 80 miles of shore, the Charlotte Harbor Preserve is fringed by shallow water and mangroves. These areas provide amazing opportunities to view wading birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife. Kayaking and canoeing is the best mode of transportation. The Great Calusa Blueway in Lee County and the Charlotte County Blueway in Charlotte County are two paddle trail systems that wind through the park. (Photo by Lowell Gehman)

Charlotte Harbor before restoration


Photo of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park before restoration efforts to remove backfilled ditches and exotic vegetation.

Charlotte Harbor marsh and estuarine

Marsh and Estuarine

Estuaries act as critical nurseries for fish and other aquatic life. Bottlenose dolphins break the water's surface and manatees feed on the seagrasses.

A white ibis walks the shoreline.

White ibis

Wading and shore birds, including white ibis, pelicans, ospreys and roseate spoonbills, thrive in the shallow waters.