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This past summer, I finally got the chance to visit Keewaydin Island. I had been wanting to visit this island which is only accessible by boat since reading this article two years ago. A day trip to Keewaydin Island was truly amazing and I cannot wait to share my full review with you and to inspire you to visit this beautiful natural gem in Southwest Florida.
A Day Trip to Keewaydin Island
Where is Keewaydin Island?
Keewaydin Island is part of the 10,000 Islands off the coast of south Naples in Southwest Florida. It is mostly uninhabited with only 13 self-sustaining dwellings. The island is eight miles long and only accessible by boat. There are no roads or bridges, and no cars on this island. On Keewaydin Island, there is no running water or electricity.
But – the beaches here are pristine, unspoiled and beautiful! Even with no amenities, folks love to visit.
How do you get to Keewaydin Island?
The bottom line is to get to Keewaydin Island you must have a boat. Now if you don’t have your own boat don’t worry I’m going to give you three options to travel over to this hidden island gem.
If you do have your own boat, you can just head on over! Most boats park on the south tip of the island, on the intercoastal side. This was definitely more of a party scene than I had envisioned, a little more Lake of the Ozarks than National Geographic, but it was fun atmosphere, with beautiful, natural surroundings.
Three Ways to get to Keewaydin Island
Option 1 – Hemingway Water Shuttle. You can book a round-trip ticket on the Hemingway water shuttle which is what we did. The Hemingway water taxi leaves two times daily for Keewaydin Island from a marina on Marco Island.
In July 2020, a round trip ticket cost $44 per adult and $22 for children.We took the 10 AM ferry from the Rose Marina on Marco Island. Parking at the marina is free, and we arrived 15 minutes before departure. We loaded all of our beach gear onto the ferry and ran into the marina shop to use the bathroom.
The ride to Keewaydin Island was approximately 20 minutes and along the way we did stop to see some dolphins.
Our return trip was scheduled to depart Keewaydin Island at 4:30 PM. The boat did dock on the island all day, but around 2 PM a storm was coming so we had to cut the trip short and head back early.
If you don’t want to drive your own boat or have a small party, this was definitely the easiest way to get to Keewaydin Island. The staff at Hemingway water taxi was really great and tried to make our boat trip a little bit more like a sightseeing tour. They were very helpful loading and unloading our gear and on the return trip gave bottles of water to each passenger.
KEEP READING: Best Resorts in Naples, Florida
Option 2 – Rent your own boat from the Rose Marina
If you want to head to Keewaydin Island on your own you can rent a pontoon boat from the Rose Marina. This is probably the most economical option if you have a larger group or lots of gear, or want to visit different parts of the island on your day trip.
You can rent a pontoon boat from the Rose Marina for 7 or 10 passengers. A 7-passenger boat rental starts at $205 for a half day in the off season, and goes up depending on what time of year and how long you want the boat for.
In the state of Florida, a driver’s license is good enough to drive a boat, unless you are under 21 and then you must also take a state approved boating course.
Option 3 – Book a guided shelling tour
If you want to visit the more remote parts of Keewaydin Island, consider booking a shelling tour through a reputable tour company such as Rising Tide Explorers Florida. Little man and I did a kayak tour with Rising Tide Explorers and I did have my eye on taking the shelling day trip with baby girl. But of course, I ran out of time – so many fun things to do in Southwest Florida and just not enough time!
The three-hour tour leaves at 9am and prices start at $109 per person. They will take you to the more northern parts of the island to look for shells in this pristine, beautiful beach. Definitely something on my list of unique things to do in Naples Florida for the next visit.
A day trip to Keewaydin Island
We left Naples Florida with enough time to drive down to the Rose Marina of Marco Island and boarded the boat a few minutes before our 10 AM departure. We brought with us our beach chairs, all our beach gear, and our food and drinks for the day.
After a quick boat ride and of course some dolphin sightings, we arrived! Our water taxi parked on the southside of Keewaydin Island, on the intercoastal side. We disembarked the boat and set up at a spot on the gulf side of the island, a short walk away.
We spent the morning walking around exploring the water, the sand and doing some amazing shelling as it was low tide and we could walk out 100s of yards into the water. It was very shallow, calm, and warm. It was a perfect day to be out on the water.
Because of COVID-19 I wasn’t sure if there would be food and drink boats available as I had read there would be, so we did bring all of our food and drinks and of course plenty of water for the day. But we were pleasantly to surprised to see there was a food boat, an ice cream boat and a drink boat parked on the intercoastal side, along with a T-shirt stand where guests could purchase souvenirs.
After lunch, the kids happily chose ice cream from the ice cream lady boat which was so cute! She had it all decorated in such a nice, fun inviting way.
Hubby and I enjoyed adult beverages from the bar boat. I had a delicious rum runner and hubby had a fun margarita.
To Keewaydin Island you can bring your own food and alcohol. We saw people with tents, and grills. There were really no restrictions on what you were allowed to bring to the island. Definitely note that as this is a beautiful, natural, untouched area you need to take out all of your garbage. There are no garbage cans on Keewaydin Island. So be sure to pack a garbage bag so that you can easily collect your trash and bring it off the island with you.
With that said you’re also are no bathrooms on Keewaydin Island so when it was time to have to do our business we had to go in the water. So something to think about as you plan your day trip to Keewaydin Island.
On the day of our visit, unfortunately our day trip was cut a little short. We were supposed to depart Keewaydin Island at 4:30 PM. However, at around 2 PM the boat captain came and found us and let us know that a storm was coming through the area. Not wanting to get stuck out at sea in a storm or on the island with no cover we headed back to Marco Island just in time.
Summer in Southwest Florida is very rainy especially in the afternoons so planning your day trip to Keewaydin Island can be a little tricky. But I was glad that there was a rain plan in place and that the captain took care of us. It had been so rainy that week I was nervous about having to wait out a monsoon on the beach!
The ride back to Marco Island was short and sweet. We came back with lots of shells, great memories, and beautiful photos of our day trip to Keewaydin Island. We cannot wait to go back and explore more – maybe the north part of the island or possibly rent one of the self-sustaining cottages that exist on Keewaydin Island.
What to Bring to Keewaydin Island
All your beach gear – Beach chairs, beach towels, umbrellas, boogey boards (although there were not many waves), and sand toys. Hemingway Water Taxi will rent you chairs and umbrellas if need be. There were not rental services on the island.
A bucket to collect shells (and a shelling net if you have one)
Lots of water in a cooler
Food and snacks
A few bucks to tip your captain
A credit card to buy ice cream, drinks, souvenirs
Camera or Go-Pro
A day trip to Keewaydin Island was a fantastic, off the beaten path adventure, but yet so close to Naples. I highly recommend a ride out there to anyone visiting the Southwest Florida area!
Have you been to Keewaydin Island? How did you get there? What did you do? Tell me about it in the comments.