Near the southern tip of Florida, just over the bridge from Everglades City, lies a little island paradise in Chokoloskee Bay. Chokoloskee Island, on the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Gulf of Mexico, is a haven for fishermen and nature lovers. Here, in the peaceful tranquility of the Everglades, surrounded by the blue water of the bay, time stands still and life is easy.
Discover the Hidden Gem of Chokoloskee Island
The Beautiful Chokoloskee Bay
The bay stretches out for 10 miles along the southwest coast of Florida from Everglades City to the scenic maze of the Ten Thousand Islands. The bay offers access to the Everglades National Park, the Big Cypress National Preserve, the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Rookery Bay National Estuary.
The small island in the bay is the home of Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina, an idyllic fishing paradise on the shores of the bay and the best place to hook that big one in the whole of Florida.
A Tiny Island Paradise
The bay encircles the 137-acres island that is connected to Everglades City on the mainland by a narrow causeway. The island is rich in history, and islanders tell tales of pirates, outlaws, and ghosts. From the park’s marina, you can enjoy a day on the water boating, kayaking, and fishing.
If you are an avid fisherman, treat yourself and board one of the fishing charters. See what fishing packages the park has on offer, or discover the mangrove jungles of the Everglades on the many guided boat tours and see an abundance of birds, manatees, dolphins, and alligators.
Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina
This picturesque island gem, right on the edge of the water, overlooks the bay and offers spectacular views and breathtaking sunsets in peaceful surroundings. The park that is well known as a fishermen’s retreat is the perfect escape for nature lovers and offers easy access to the surrounding nature preserves. From the park, campers can enjoy the many fishing charters and eco-tours to explore the bay, The Thousand Islands, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Park Campground, Cabins, and Lodge
Pitch your tent and sleep under the stars, or hook up your 30ft or smaller camper or RV and enjoy the peaceful surroundings at one of the grassy campsites, all with electricity, water, and sewer hookups. And after a day of fishing, throw your catch on the grill and sit around the fire pit for a relaxing break with family and friends. The site has a bathhouse, with showers and restrooms, and laundry to make your camping experience as comfortable as possible.
If roughing it a little is not for you, the park has 13 cozy one and two-bedroom cabins with fully equipped kitchens. The Captain’s Lodge, which can accommodate 10 guests, is also a comfortable option.
The full-service marina has a launch ramp and slips with short and long term rental options available. If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent a boat or a kayak at the marina and explore the mangrove islands, fish, and enjoy the bay. The marina also offers boat and trailer storage and has a well-stocked store with everything a fisherman needs.
Fishing is the main activity on the island, and the vast variety of fish to catch all year long attracts fishermen from all over the world. Local boat captains can take you on chartered fishing excursions and give tips on hooking a prize catch. Or you can explore the many islands and inland rivers by boat from the marina and find your own perfect fishing spot.
Some of the favorite fish to catch are red drum, bass, snook, tarpon, redfish, pompano, grouper, snapper, sheepshead, permit, seatrout, and cobia. Fishermen boast that they catch a dozen or more different species in a single trip.
A Rich History
The island has a long and fascinating history that starts 1500 years before the first settlement was built in 1874. Native Americans called the island their home and created big mounds of shells and sand to help protect the island from storms, that can still be seen today.
Until 1956, the only way to get to the island was by boat, and until 1973 residents had to collect their mail at the historical Smallwood General Store.
Ted Smallwood General Store Museum
The store was opened by Ted Smallwood in 1906 as a trading post to serve the early settlers and Indians who lived in the area. It quickly became the social gathering spot for the island folk and many of its notorious bootleggers, drug smugglers, and fugitives. After the store closed in 1982, it was changed into a museum. The shelves are stacked with goods that date back to the early 1900s, from medicine bottles, spittoons, and animal hides to wagon wheels.
Outlaws, Pirates, and Ghosts
The island is cloaked in mystery, and island folk will whisper tales of ghosts in hushed tones and swear that there are more ghosts than living souls that dwell along the shores. They talk of a 120-year-old pirate who got trapped in his own fishing net and tell tales of fugitives and outlaws. The most infamous of the outlaws is Edgar “Bloody” Watson, who ran with the Jesse James gang and came to the island in the early 1900s. It is believed that he killed Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen of the Old West.
As the story goes, Watson hired fugitives to work on his farm, but instead of paying them, he preferred to murder them. He also extended his killing spree to a few of the islanders. The story ends on October 24, 1910, with a shootout between the islanders and Watson. The old store is believed to still, like in the old days, be a gathering place, but nowadays mostly frequented by ghosts at the stroke of midnight.
This cozy little island, with all its uniqueness, stories, and natural beauty, is the ultimate fishing getaway. Here you can explore the many fishing options, marvel at the history and stories, and enjoy a well-deserved break in natural surroundings. Contact Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina today and book your exciting fishing experience in this unique paradise.