Ecotourism In Florida: What Is An Ecotour?

kayaks used for our kayaking tours

Understanding Ecotourism and Eco Tours

Ecotourism is an environmentally friendly form of sustainable travel with the intent to appreciate your surroundings. More and more tourists choose to give up on artificial island resorts to take part in eco tours at nature reserves and other areas of great ecological significance, passing untouched landscapes with care and humility.

It’s a welcome change from regular mass tourism, which has come to be considered a bane of fragile ecosystems and pristine wildlife. An increasing number of people have started to participate in special eco tours of the most remote and exotic corners of the world, taking in the nature’s wonders untouched by the civilization and supporting the local communities in the process.

Eco Tours in Florida

Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County
Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ecotourism has also caught on back in United States, where there are hundreds of national parks and natural areas waiting to be explored by responsible tourists who realize the significance of these places for our future.

Eco tours in Florida have recently gained traction due to the unique landscape and ecology found in Sarasota. The city’s near vicinity features abundant opportunities for eco tours, especially while kayaking through Siesta Key and Lido Key Beaches. These tours provide an insight into the local flora and fauna that you wouldn’t encounter elsewhere. They also serve as a smooth introduction to the ideals of ecotourism.

Ecotourism Guidelines

The term “ecotourism” is used very loosely when referring to other forms of travel, so there are several types of tourism that the word might mean to different people. No common regulations are imposed on people who choose to participate in ecotourism, but there are some basic guidelines and principles shared by responsible travelers that preserve the environments that they visit on eco tours.

  • Minimized impact on your surroundings.
  • Cultural and environmental awareness.
  • Positive experience for both visitors and hosts.
  • Financial support for local communities and preserves.
  • Awareness of the political and social climate of your destination.

Not all of these guidelines apply for eco tours in Florida, but it’s still useful to know them in case you decide to participate in ecotourism in any other part of the world. It’s a form of travel ethics that you can apply in any location to reverse your negative impact on the surrounding environment.

Reasons to Participate in Eco Tours

Some of the most important highlights of ecotourism are social responsibility, respect for the environment and personal growth. The primary attractions of eco tour destinations are pristine wildlife, exotic flora and cultural heritage, instead of the entertainment value usually expected on regular tourist tours.

The kayaking adventures of eco tours in Sarasota, FL combine the best from these two worlds by introducing genuinely fun activities to take part in with no risk of harming the surrounding environment.

The hidden treasures of Lido Key and Siesta Key Beaches will welcome participants of all ages, who will spend their time learning important lessons of natural awareness and enjoying unforgettable views of landscapes you wouldn’t expect to see without ever leaving the United States.

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Mangrove Tunnels of South Lido Key

mangrove tunnels of sarasota bay

Mangrove Tunnels of South Lido Key

Adventure Kayaking You Won’t Soon Forget

Sarasota is most notably recognized for its beautiful beaches, warm temperatures and breathtaking sunsets. Vacationers flock to Sarasota in the winter and summer seasons to enjoy all that the community has to offer from our rich, cultural history and exquisite dining to the area’s architectural wonders. However, when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, nothing says “adventure” like a kayaking trip through the mangrove tunnels of South Lido Key Beach.

What Are Mangroves?

mangrove kayaking tour in sarasotaMangroves are tropical plants that have adapted to the loose, wet soils of our coastline, as well as salt water and tidal surges that frequent Lido Key. There are more than 50 species of mangroves throughout the world, with 3 species that are native Florida:

White Mangroves are the most common species and are easily recognized by their smooth-barked trees with clusters of small orange flowers that are very fragrant. The White Mangrove can grow in excess of 16 feet and produces mangrove fruits that were a common staple of nourishment to the Aboriginal people thousands of years ago. The fruit is highly toxic, but the toxins are easily removed by burying the fruit in mangrove mud for 3-7 days. Once boiled or roasted, the fruit is ready to eat with no worries. Futhermore, mangrove tree branches can be burned to repel sandflies!

Why Are They So Important?

You might think to yourself, “Well, why are mangroves so important? Aren’t they just trees?” Well, yes, they are trees. However, mangroves and mangrove tunnels are extremely important to both humans and marine life for a number of reasons:

  • The distribution of the mangrove community in ...
    The distribution of the mangrove community in Florida is shown in red. Cedar Keys and Ponce de Leon Inlet are the northern limits of the mangrove community. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Provide nursery areas for young fish and crustaceans, safe from deep waters and large predators.
  • Serve as an important source of nutrients for the marine ecosystem.
  • Act as shelter to their inhabitants.
  • Are a barrier to coastal erosion, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis and flood waters.
  • Provide us with many benefits such as:
    • Seafood
    • Fruits
    • Medicines
    • Fiber
    • Wood

With so much to offer, Mangroves have been a highly regarded part of Sarasota’s aquatic ecosystem and have played a major role in the conservation of our coastline.

Kayaking the Mangrove Tunnels of Lido Key

Among the many benefits of Mangrove’s, they also offer up a great opportunity for kayakers looking to explore Lido Key from a unique perspective. Lido Key is home to miles of Mangrove forests, twisting and turning to create beautiful, canopied mangrove tunnels, serving as a natural habitat to various plants, birds and marine animals.

When kayaking the mangrove tunnels of Lido Key, you can expect to see:

  • mangrove tunnels in Sarasota on Lido KeyManatees
  • Dolphins
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Mangrove Crabs
  • Sea Stars
  • Sea Urchins
  • Osprey
  • White Egrets
  • Comorants
  • Pelicans

And that’s just to name a few.

The experience itself is worth the trip, giving you an up close and personal look into the heart of Florida’s mangrove forests and the many surprises they hold within.

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Interesting Things About Siesta Key Beach

Facts about Siesta Key Beach

Did You Know This About Siesta Key Beach?

It’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons Sarasota is so popular for tourists are the beautiful, white sandy beaches that make up the majority of Sarasota’s coastal borders. With temperatures reaching 90+ degrees in the summer months and barely dipping below the 70 degree mark in the winter, Sarasota is a truly a year-round paradise. Of all the beaches within Sarasota, none surpass the beauty and exquisite sunsets of Siesta Key Beach. Voted the nation’s #1 beach in 2001, Siesta Key continues to draw more visitors every year. With sugary-white sand that remains cool to the touch, crystal clear blue water and plenty of fun and excitement for the entire family, Siesta Key is a fantastic location to get away from the everyday pressures of life, kick back and relax.

Here are some interesting facts about Siesta Key that you may not know:

siesta key beach

What’s your favorite thing about Siesta Key Beach?

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