Charlotte Harbor, the 17th largest estuary in the nation and the 2nd largest estuary in Florida at 270 square miles, is a world apart from other waterways in Florida. It is home to 192.9 miles of canoe and kayak Blueway Trails and has 830 miles of shoreline that includes river passages, mangrove-edged aquatic preserve, and 28 miles of sandy beaches. Charlotte Harbor even offers world-class boating, fishing, and sailing, as well as prime birding opportunities. But none of this is what makes Charlotte Harbor so unique.
Unlike the rest of Florida’s waterfront property, which has been covered in high-rise condos, skyscrapers, hotels, and mega-mansions, 84% of Charlotte Harbor’s shoreline is preserved land, most of which is accessible only by boat. One of the best ways to enjoy this pristine corner of Florida is to take a cruise with the King Fisher Fleet, located in Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Sightseeing tours aboard these double-decker yachts range from half-day harbor cruises that feature dolphin spotting and pirate lore, to tours of historic Cabbage Key or the eight-mile long undeveloped barrier island, Cayo Costa. The most popular King Fisher tour may be the hour-long sunset cruise on the Peace River, one of two major waterways that feed into the harbor. Yachts depart from the marina at Fisherman’s Village just before sunset, motoring past boats bobbing on moorings and buildings painted in a riot of Caribbean colors. Once on the wide Peace River, the captain plays his special music mix, timed so that Celine Dion is belting out “God Bless America” as a red sun sinks slowly into the ocean. Puffy cotton-candy clouds hanging above the horizon blaze pink, then orange, and finally fade to deep lavender. The shoreline is an unbroken line of trees and mangroves, unmarred by city lights or buildings. For Florida, it is a truly remarkable sight.
Cruises range from $11.95 per person for the sunset cruise to $26.95 per person for full day cruises, and children under 12 are half fare. For more information or to make reservations, call 941-639-0969 or visit www.kingfisherfleet.com. Fisherman’s Village Marina and Shopping Mall is located just three miles west of exit #164 on I-75, in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Photo credit: Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels