Calusa Blueway

By: Mike Hammond

Bunche Beach was ground zero for Ian’s landfall, with many boats, docks, and assorted debris finding their way into the mangroves. Despite more than a year and a half passing since the storm, remnants of its impact linger. Nonetheless, Bunche Beach remains a prime spot for wildlife observation. Just be prepared for a few post-Ian adjustments. Currently, the two-story bathrooms near the kayak launches remain closed, with portable toilets serving as a temporary solution until repairs are complete. Parking payment has been streamlined. Instead of waiting in line to pay for parking at a machine, you can now conveniently pay using your phone. The mangrove tunnel/mosquito ditch leading towards Fort Myers Beach is accessible, although a couple of abandoned boats still dot the route. A lot of work went into clearing debris from this area. Navigating this path requires at least a foot of water with a rising tide; otherwise, you risk a muddy trek back to deeper waters. Before heading out, it’s wise to check tidal information with the onsite outfitter, Kayak Excursions. The mangrove tunnel to the west is not fully open, although access to the large open lake is possible. Getting to the mouth of the tunnel can be a bit tricky though. Pre Ian, paddlers could paddle out of Rock Creek and turn right at Calusa Blueway marker 48 to find the trough that led them to the tunnel. The trough is now almost nonexistent. If you can’t paddle on a tide of at least one foot, be prepared to drag your kayak or SUP to get to the tunnel. The good news is there seems to be more birds out there than ever. You don’t even have to leave Rock Creek to see half a dozen species of wading birds some days. The flats are loaded with shorebirds as well.  Please do your best to avoid disturbing them or explore alternative routes.  You do not have to leave Rock Creek to find sizable catches like snook, snapper, or sheepshead, making it an excellent choice, especially on windy days.  Bunche Beach is a local and tourist favorite for anglers, birders, and beachgoers.  Don’t forget to include it on your list of places to paddle again-Bunche Beach is back!For those seeking more adventure, Kayak Excursions at Bunche Beach is participating in the Calusa Blueway Challenge. Go to: for more information and to start earning points.