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“Natural Beauty: What Southwest Florida Is All About”

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
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Marco Island Kayak Eco Tour
Ranked #16 of 124 things to do in Naples
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Environmental Learning Center is a 16,500 square-foot facility with four research laboratories, classrooms and 140-seat auditorium, and two story visitor center. The visitor center offers a variety of hands-on experiences, including 2,300-gallon aquarium and NEW Estuary Encounter interactive marine life exhibit and other displays addressing research and stewardship efforts ongoing within the Reserve, as well as a nature store, gallery and picnic area. Guided boat and kayak tours offered seasonally provide educational experiences while enjoying this special place. Check our website to see information about our tours.
Cape Coral, Florida
Level Contributor
176 reviews
81 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 137 helpful votes
“Natural Beauty: What Southwest Florida Is All About”
Reviewed June 8, 2013

This is a great place to visit with the kids. The building is small but the exhibits are all very engaging and adults will learn alongside children about the estuaries and all of the species of animals and plants that make this ecosystem their home. We loved the observation bridge and saw lots of wild life including two baby bull sharks and a moon jellyfish swimming in the river's brackish water. We walked on the trails and enjoyed the butterfly garden. This was a lot of fun and a great value for just $5 per person and during summer kids are free on Fridays! My kid's favorite part was the touch tank, but make sure to check their schedule as they don't have this every day. If you are going in summer do not hit the trails without putting bug spray on.
The staff where super friendly and knowledgeable and the gift store had so many great gifts and some super affordable books and educational toys for the kids.

Visited June 2013
2 Thank Paula B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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268 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
250 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“A nice nature outing”
Reviewed May 31, 2013

My husband and I live very close to this facility and have a membership to it. We love the nature trails and also their periodic informative programs where they bring in speakers on different wildlife topics.
The main building provides knowledgeable volunteers who give regular hands on demonstrations on their aquatic tank and aquarium. They also provide very informative details of the history of the Florida estuary and the ongoing preservation efforts.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Harrisgumby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, CO
Level Contributor
39 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Love this place!”
Reviewed May 30, 2013

We are members, and my daughter loves to come here and see what the marine life is up too! The environmental learning center is her favorite! Come down to learn, but go out on a paddle or excursion to really enjoy the nature in SW FL.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank hoghey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
42 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Pristine Rookery Bay Offers Tours, Trips, & Learning for the Family!”
Reviewed May 16, 2013

The Rookery Bay Education Center is filled with interesting exhibits - see the 20' diameter free-standing aquarium at feeding time, watch the snake talk, and learn of Florida habitats from a Naturalist on the Trail Walk. Take in a film on many interesting topics, the History Boat Tour we took was just really great, Naturalist and Historian Randy is a great guide. Schedule your trip right away as they fill up! Once in a while, we see a manatee swimming up Henderson Creek, right beside the Education Center.
Birders and nature people will enjoy the Boardwalk down on Shell Island Road, a good spot to see water birds. (Also see the ponds at Eagle Lakes Park, on rt. 41, for more bird life.) The Kayak Trips with a Naturalist will give you much better insight into the importance of the estuary - the nursery of the sea. All these exhibits and tours only begin to scratch the surface - Rookery Bay is important as a great success story of citizen involvement. Concerned citizens and school kids took on giant corporate property developers to preserve this sizable piece of pristine Florida coastal environment. Rookery Bay's existence makes us all a bit richer!

Visited March 2013
3 Thank Rediron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
42 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“A lovely boat trip”
Reviewed April 30, 2013

Slowly traveling in a small boat - capacity of only 6 - with a wonderful, knowledgable guide, into what one can imagine "old Florida" looked like, is a perfect way to spend a few hours. We took the "Life is a Beach" tour which ended on Keywaydin Island. On the way, our guide shared so much interesting information about plants, animals, and the history of Rookery Bay, saved and treasured because two environmental groups joined forces and made it happen. Once on Keywaydin, we shelled until we could do so no more! None live, of course, which is against the law and subject to a large fine, not to mention the fact that no one should want to kill these amazing sea creatures when you can pick their shells up off the sand. Did I mention our guide knows everything? He pointed out numerous shells, where they came from and what they do, all the while walking on a beautiful beach with absolutely no one else there, except the pelicans, loons, sandpipers, a dolphin or two and who knows what was swimming below the sea! By the time we returned the nature center was closed but we plan to go back and take some of the other tours offered. Sailing along watching the nesting ospreys, take a deep breath and relax!

Visited April 2013
2 Thank vegankat123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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