One of the best ways to experience Caladesi Island is to take the paddling trail, which begins and ends at the park’s marina and café. The trail begins by winding through an extensive mangrove forest. As you approach the entrance it is shaded by a canopy of branches overhead, which almost seem to form tunnels. The water is often clear over white sand. The trail then exits to shallow sea grass flats. Many visitors choose to take the shorter one-mile loop and head back along the edge of the mangroves to the beginning of the trail. More adventurous paddlers head back into the mangrove forest, taking the longer three-mile loop to the Scharer Homestead Ruins, which date back to the early 1800s.
Wading and diving birds such as blue herons, great egrets and osprey are common sights, along with fish such as mullet, snook and red drum. The lucky paddler may see dolphins, manatees, bald eagles or the bright pink roseate spoonbills. To experience the trail, you are welcome to bring your own kayak, paddle board or other non-motorized vessel. Kayaks can also be rented from our café for $25 per person.