Looking for adventure in Florida? Ecotourism might be right up your alley. When it comes to ecotourism, Florida is one of the best destinations in the country thanks to our lush green landscape, sub-tropical weather, wondrous wildlife, and more.
Florida can be an eco-friendly vacation destination. When it comes to ecotourism, Florida provides many opportunities to nurture Mother Nature while having a great time. Ecotourism in Florida can include visiting state parks and protected lands, kayaking, hiking, shopping at farmers’ markets, observing wildlife, enjoying farm-to-table dining, and much more.
Let’s look at going green and how enjoying Florida ecotourism can make for a great vacation.
What is Ecotourism?
In the most simple terms, ecotourism is about conservation and appreciating nature. For many, ecotourism and green travel is about more than traveling responsibly. It is about sustainability and truly enjoying what makes the natural world wonderful.
There are many examples of ecotourism. Visiting state and national parks, outdoor activities, observing nature at wildlife sanctuaries, and even setting out on an eco-tour are all ways to participate in green travel and ecotourism.
When it comes to ecotourism, Florida is a top destination for many. This subtropical paradise is home to all kinds of wonderful wildlife to learn more about and enjoy. You’ll find all kinds of interpretive exhibits and natural beauty all across Florida. This means it is easy to explore nature and see what makes Florida special.
Why is Ecotourism in Florida Important?
Ecotourism in Florida is important to the Sunshine State’s economy, communities, and the preservation of the unique landscape here.
In fact, green travel is one way to protect Florida’s natural ecosystems. What does this mean? The more people who visit Florida and learn about our unique habitats and wildlife, the more people will be inspired to make a difference. This is important to Florida, as the state is home to many endangered plants and animals.
Threatened and endangered plants and animals in Florida include, but definitely aren’t limited to:
- Brittle thatch palm
- Buccaneer’s palm
- Tree cactus
- American alligators
- American crocodiles
- Sea turtles
- Wood stork
- Florida panthers
- Key deer
Learning more about these plants and creatures and even seeing their habitats up close and in-person can lend a hand toward preservation.
You’ll also find there’s more to a green Florida vacation than just seeing nature. There are many ways to have a sustainable vacation. From seeing and participating in nature to choosing local dining options, you’ll find all kinds of ways to make the most of travel that makes a difference.
Ecotourism Florida: Adventures and Activities
Participating in ecotourism in Florida means enjoying all kinds of adventures and activities. Here are a few ways you can go green on your next Florida vacation.
See Dolphins Frolic at Sea
You know that Florida is a peninsula surrounded by water. Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters are habitats for the bottlenose dolphin. Scientists estimate there are more than 10,000 bottlenose dolphins in the coastal Gulf of Mexico waters alone. One great way to observe and learn more about these playful creatures is through a dolphin-watching ecotour.
The warm Gulf waters of Southwest Florida are a great place to see dolphins in the wild. You might see them frolic in the surf on many local beaches. But for many, the best way to see dolphins in Florida is from a dolphin-watching tour. You’ll find many options for dolphin tours based in Fort Myers. Goodtime Charters, Adventures in Paradise, Sight Sea-R Cruises, and many other tour guides offer eco-friendly opportunities to see dolphins in the wild in Southwest Florida.
Rent a Kayak and Paddle
The waters around Captiva Island and Sanibel Island are often still and gentle, making these islands great destinations for a day of kayaking.
Pine Island Sound, right off the islands, is a perfect destination for kayakers in Southwest Florida. It features diverse coastlines. You’ll see everything from white sand beaches to tropical mangroves to salt marshes, which means the wildlife you can observe as you paddle is just as diverse. Creatures you might see while paddling Pine Island Sound include manatees, bald eagles, alligators, black vultures, kingfishers, pelicans, turtles, and many others.
Another green thing about kayaking: These vessels are human-powered, making them a very sustainable way to get around. You might have sore muscles after a day of kayaking, but you’ll likely leave no trace on the waters you traverse.
Take a Turtle Walk and See Hatchlings Head to Sea
It is a fact that many Florida beaches turn into sea turtle nurseries during hatching season. Viewing hatchlings as they head to sea is a very unique opportunity, and you’ll find several opportunities to enjoy this unique experience in Southwest Florida. Florida state regulations only allow turtle walks on the state’s beaches in June and July.
Trained and specially-permitted naturalists lead turtle walks on Florida beaches during sea turtle nesting and hatching season, which takes place in the summer months. The turtle walks are the only eco-friendly way to observe these endangered creatures as they come to the beaches to make nests, lay eggs, and see hatchlings head to sea. Guides use special lights and share interpretive information about the sea turtle nesting and hatching processes.
The only organization permitted to hold turtle walks in Southwest Florida is Turtle Time, Inc. of Fort Myers Beach.
Experience Local Flavor by Shopping at Farmers Markets
Many Florida vacation rentals come with a fully-equipped kitchen. Take advantage of this amenity and go green at the same time by cooking up a great meal with locally sourced ingredients. The best way to savor local flavor (and local ingredients) comes straight from local farmer’s markets. You’ll find quite a few farmer’s markets across Southwest Florida and beyond, including:
- Lakes Park Farmers Market, held on Wednesdays at Lakes Park in Fort Myers
- River District Farmers Market, held on Thursdays in Fort Myers’ River District right on the river
- Captiva Island Farmers Market, held on Tuesdays in Captiva Island near the entrance to the South Seas Resort
- Sanibel Island Farmers Market, held on Sundays off Sanibel Island’s Periwinkle Way
- Fort Myers Beach Farmers Market, held twice a week on Wednesday and Friday
- Bonita Springs Farmers Market, held on Thursdays neat Coconut Point Mall
- Cape Coral Farmers Market, held twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays at locations that vary seasonally
- Ocala Downtown Market, held every Saturday, rain or shine, in Downtown Ocala
See Nature Up Close at a Wildlife Refuge
J.N. Ding Darling National Wild
life Refuge is among the best ecotourism Florida destinations. This national treasure is the largest undeveloped mangrove in the U.S., and you’ll find it right on Southwest Florida’s Sanibel Island. You’ll find trails to explore and much more here.
Wildlife recently spotted at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge includes:
- Chicken turtle
- Blue ceranaus butterfly
- Common grackle
- Florida box turtle
- Little blue heron
Find unique opportunities to observe unique wildlife at the refugee.
Learn About Unique Florida Animals
Looking for another place to see animals native to Florida? Consider taking a trip to the small fishing village of Homosassa and checking out the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The park is a 3-hour drive from Fort Myers and is home to a captive collection of some of the state’s most unique creatures.
Only animals native to Florida live at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. Many of the animals at the wildlife park have been rehabilitated and are no longer suited for life in the wild. Interpretive exhibits about the animals’ care and conservation make this park an eco-friendly place to visit.
Enjoy Farm-to-Table Dining
The farm-to-table dining movement is part of Florida’s rich restaurant scene. This delicious experience reduces the handling of food and lessens the carbon footprint associated with eating out. A few farm-to-table dining options in Southwest Florida include:
- Buckingham Farms in Fort Myers
- Caffee Toscano Italian Restaurant in Fort Myers
- Fish Tale Grill and Merrick Seafood in Cape Coral
- Sanibel Fresh on Sanibel Island
With so many ways to see natural Florida, it is easy to see why ecotourism is a great choice for those visiting the Sunshine State.
Enjoy Ecotourism Florida with Royal Shell Vacations
Are you ready to enjoy ecotourism? Florida has so much to offer when it comes to Earth-friendly activities and more. From state and national parks to carbon-footprint-friendly eats to beautiful botanical gardens, it is easy to enjoy the green side of the Sunshine State.
Reach out to Royal Shell Vacations when you are ready to plan your next eco-friendly Florida vacation. With vacation rentals across Southwest Florida and even up to Ocala, you’ll find the perfect property to call home whether you’re staying a few weeks or the entire season. Call (866) 202-0723 or contact Royal Shell Vacations online now.