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“Bring bug spray!”

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
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Marco Island Kayak Eco Tour
Ranked #16 of 124 things to do in Naples
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Environmental Learning Center is a 16,500 square-foot facility with four research laboratories, classrooms and 140-seat auditorium, and two story visitor center. The visitor center offers a variety of hands-on experiences, including 2,300-gallon aquarium and NEW Estuary Encounter interactive marine life exhibit and other displays addressing research and stewardship efforts ongoing within the Reserve, as well as a nature store, gallery and picnic area. Guided boat and kayak tours offered seasonally provide educational experiences while enjoying this special place. Check our website to see information about our tours.
Reviewed 7 May 2014

We visit nature and history places all over the world and most of them are bigger than Rookery Bay. But Rookery Bay did a great job engaging our kids and having exhibits that they could enjoy. They also gave him tons of prizes for finishing the little activity...and bribery goes far with my kids.
We went on the nature trail but didn't see anything. For the first half, we were happy just to walk but we ran the second half because the mosquitos were so bad. Some of the worst I've ever seen. We had purchased bug spray at the front desk but we must have missed a few spots on one of my sons because he was eaten alive. Yeah, my husband sprayed him. And I didn't want to spray the face of my young daughter because I was afraid she would rub it in her eyes in a fit...well, the bugs thought her face delicious. She had some kind of allergic reaction to the bites and then got a black eye from one...it was close enough to her eye that the anti-coagulant gave her that reaction. So she looked hideous for the rest of the trip!
So use tons of repellant OR go on a really windy day!

Thank elawson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (276)
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203 - 207 of 276 reviews

Reviewed 14 April 2014

We're vacationing in Marco Island for the month and wanted to explore some nature. For only $5.00/adult, we got admission to the educational center, free parking, and much, much more. The resident naturalist took us on a guided nature walk and we learned about mangoves, live oaks, invasive plants, feral pigs, snakes, palms, air plants, etc. The walk was flat on a small gravel walkway so it was an easy trek. When we returned to the center, we mentioned to the staff that we were interested in some history of Marco Island. We were told, "No problem; come with me". They escorted us to a classroom, set up a 30 minute video, and we enjoyed a narrative with "old time" photos and the history of the island. We never expected this personalized service. My only advice is to be sure to bring a long-sleeved shirt for the nature walk because the mosquitoes can be a pest on a humid day in April.

Thank BarbaraG332
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2014

I highly recommend this as a stop over for those that enjoy nature. There is plenty of free parking and the interior of the building is loaded with exhibits and friendly staff. We got to sit in a classroom-like room with a naturalist, Patrick Higgins, who discussed all about shells. Patrick is an excellent speaker - clear, concise, well organized and answers everyone's questions. The room was packed but Patrick was able to keep everyone's attention from young to old - a difficult thing to do with a lecture type of setting. I enjoyed his session very much. I wish we were able to visit the Rookery Bay during the beginning of our vacation so we could see the full schedule of events to plan around it. They also have an outdoor trail for anyone to freely walk around and a couple of paid tours / sessions like kayaking, boat ride, etc. Go here early as they close around 4 / 5 pm. Entry is $5 per person to explore the building and walk the grounds and free learning sessions.

1  Thank LoneRogue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2014

I just happened to find this place when I missed my turn to head to Miami via Rt 41. It is a great spot to bird watch, learn about the local animal and plant life, and take a break to get out of the car and stretch your legs. I paid $5 to get in and had access to a science museum display room, culture museum display room, snake lecture, bird lecture, conservation video, three walking trails, two observation bridges (both birds and manatees), picnic area, and gift shop. The science museum part had a touch tank for children and a scientist there to explain all the details on estuary sand creatures. Lovely lovely place to visit. Would recommend for everyone.

1  Thank Amanda D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2014

Haven't yet been to the nature center, but have taken 4 boat tours with Randy. The boats hold 6 people plus Randy and explore different aspects of Rookery Bay. Randy is extremely knowledgable about all aspects (plants, birds, shells, topogrphy, history, etc.) of the Bay. There are 5 tours (not including kayak) and we have been on 4 of them and have booked the 5th. Though they were all extremely interesting, they do cover different areas and information so important to read descriptions carefully. The most unusual one is Starlight which takes you to a remote section of Keewaydin Island to look for shells and watch the sunset and then, as you return, the full moon rises right in front of you and guides you home. Though you can see a Naples sunset on any beach, this is a unique experience. Book early. Since the boat is small, he tends to fill up quickly especially in high season. You get free admission to the nature center with your boat fee, but we've never had time to do it.

2  Thank sun&sea lover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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