Most people hear “Everglades” and think “swamps and alligators,” but the western edge of the park is taken up by the Ten Thousand Islands, a fringe of coral cays and mangrove islands off of Florida’s southern Gulf Coast.
In the quiet, so-laid-back-it’s-comatose town of Everglades City, find the Gulf Coast Visitor Center for Everglades National Park. Rangers can give you tips on outfitters and travel advice for paddling Ten Thousand Islands.
If you want a truly epic adventure, head out on one of the world’s great kayaking trips and paddle the Wilderness Waterway: a 99-mile aquatic trek from Everglades City down the Gulf Coast to the Flaming Marina at the southern (mainland) tip of the state.
Along the way you can camp in chickees (raised platforms on the water), say good morning to dancing dolphins and watch sunsets that will sear themselves into your memory forever.