The 10,000 islands are a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida located at the northern part of the Everglades. Some of the islands are merely high spots on a submergent coastline. Others were produced by mangroves growing on oyster bars.
This area empties out into the Gulf of Mexico, but is extremely shallow in parts so it can be tricky to navigate a boat through it unless you really know the currents and your way around.
Some of the islands are covered in mangroves from shore to shore. Other, usually bigger islands, have some areas with beautiful white sand beaches. A few islands are big enough and are available for camping. However, it is real camping. Meaning there is no water provided and no plumbing available except a porta-potty. This site gives a good accurate account of what camping on the islands is like.
Related: Kayaking Through Mangroves
These pelicans were so regal the way they sat in a huge group on this little sandbar. When their wings are collapsed it looks like their whole back end is black. Once they take off for flight, as you can see, it’s really only the tips of their wings that look like they’ve been dipped in black paint.
This Osprey nest was another thing that caught my eye. Our captain told us that Osprey mate for life, but part ways each year for fall migration. Although they are leaving their mate, it is said that they always know and remember their own nest, and even add to it each year when they reunite with their mate. Judging by the size of this nest, this bird couple has most likely called this nest home for several years.
I snapped pictures of as many animals as I could, but I missed a few. We got a good look at some dolphins several times. Usually we only saw two together peaking out of the water, but in this shot there were 4 out and about together.
Unlike their white feathered relatives, these huge Brown Pelicans could be spotted perched on mangrove branches. It was so strange to see this huge bird sitting on what looked like a flimsy tree branch, but we saw probably 50 of them perched this way throughout the boat ride.
Because the water can be extremely shallow in this area and because it is home to so much marine life obeying the no wake zones is critical.
other animals spotted on the cruise, but not pictured:
- a sea turtle
- a manatee
I actually didn’t see the manatee. Only our captain and one other person saw it. I was pretty bummed I didn’t catch a glimpse of it, but shortly after we got off the boat tour we headed out for our nature drive and spotted a bunch of them just hanging out!
Stay tuned for my final recap of our tour with Eco Safari. I saved the best for the last! Get ready to get up close and personal with some Florida Alligators!
Have you ever been on a boat cruise?
note: I received a complementary tour in exchange for my honest opinion. All photos and opinions are 100% mine.