ROOKERY BAY BOAT TOURS
Explore the Diverse Backwaters of Southwest Florida!
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is an irreplaceable natural treasure. You can now explore this unique ecosystem on a 6-passenger boat tour that offers an up-close and personal experience. These on-the-water adventures are the only Rookery Bay tours conducted by our exclusive eco-tour partner, Rising Tide Explorers.
The relaxed pace and emphasis on learning is designed to help visitors develop a true sense of place and a deeper connection to this unique coastal wilderness, while providing a chance to see a diversity of native wildlife and offer a comfortable platform for photography. Proceeds support Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
Life's A Beach Barrier Island Shelling
Essence of the Estuary Eco-Cruise
High Points Ancient Island Excursion
Sunset to Starlight Cruise
Sunset Bird Rookery Boat Cruise
Frequently Asked Questions
Are the tours suitable for children?
On all regularly scheduled tours, the minimum age for passengers is 12. This is based on your captain’s years of experience as a professional educator and as a long-time instructor in the Florida Master Naturalist Program. Some of the interesting environmental science covered during these tours is oriented toward, and preferred by, an adult audience. Interpreting the natural and cultural history of the area for young children requires a different approach than for adults. Trying to do both at once means neither is done well. Private charters may be arranged for families with young children.
Can I come without a reservation?
Advance reservations are required. These tours are designed to be a unique and intimate natural experience and are limited to no more than six passengers. Special private charters may also be arranged. Please call to inquire.
Can I take photos?
Absolutely. Rookery Bay Reserve has always considered photography and art to be a meaningful and effective way to gain a “sense of place”. The light, colors, textures and wildness of this area make it a fantastic natural setting for photographers.
Can the general public access these same places?
Yes and no. Most locations in the Reserve require a boat to get to and there are some locations that are restricted.
Do you offer private charters?
Sorry, but no. Our current schedule prevents us from offering any additional tours.
Is the tour boat handicapped accessible?
If you require specific accommodations , please contact us in advance at 239-530-5972.
May I bring my own refreshments on the boat?
It’s okay to bring your own refreshments, but alcohol is not permitted. You are responsible for carrying your items to the beach and back (a short hike, in the dark). Big coolers are a bad idea, and on the boat, your captain will ask guests to be careful that nothing blows overboard (plastic bags).
How can I receive a discount?
Our tours are intimate, nature-viewing and learning experiences, limited to ONLY six passengers per tour. Our tours are competitively priced, and proceeds support the Friends of Rookery Bay. For this reason, the only discount offered on these tours is 10-20% off, available to Friends of Rookery Bay members. Learn more about membership.
What kind of boat is used?
The boat is a 24-foot Carolina Skiff specially outfitted for this purpose. The boat is extremely stable and perfect for negotiating the narrow creeks and shallow backwaters of the Reserve. There are comfortable individual seats for each passenger (maximum of six), a fully shaded canopy, a very quiet four-stroke Yamaha outboard engine and all required safety equipment.
What kind of wildlife might we see?
It depends on the time of year (for migrating birds), which trip you are on and the luck of the day. Other visitors on these trips have seen: bottle-nosed dolphins, manatees, wild hogs, deer, raccoons, bald eagles, magnificent frigate birds, peregrine falcons, black-crowned night herons, roseate spoonbills, spotted sandpipers, American oyster catchers, gopher tortoises, mangrove tree crabs, sea slugs, Bartram’s hairstreak butterflies and a host of interesting native plants and wildflowers.
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Memberships start at $20 per year.