Located just 15 minutes from downtown Naples, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 40% of Collier County’s most beautiful, naturally preserved beaches and coastline. The reserve itself includes 110,000 acres of land and water!
Visitors can explore on foot, by boat and kayak or with a visit to the state-of the-art Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, filled with interesting interactive coastal and natural history exhibits. There is also an art gallery onsite currently showcasing a photography and painting exhibit about Rookery Bay’s land and wildlife called “The Land They Love: Rookery Bay Reserve.”
At the Center, guests learn about the waters, birds of Rookery Bay and animal life as well as experience it hands-on with educators at the marine life touch tanks. Guests are encouraged to look, touch or hold a sea star, sea urchin, giant conch snail or pistol shrimp. Behind the Center, a scenic overlook bridge leads to three loops of nature trails for all levels. Visitors can also enjoy the outdoor patio for lunch and the serene butterfly garden.
While crossing the bridge to the trails, visitors may
see boats and kayaks or even get a special surprise and spot a manatee, dolphin or even a juvenile bull shark in the water below!