Gulf Coast Visitor Center

activities / Parks & gardens

Lonely Planet review

This is the northwestern-most ranger station for Everglades National Park, and provides access to the 10,000 Islands area. Boat tours depart from the downstairs marina into the mangrove flats and green islands – if you’re lucky you may see dolphins springing up beside your craft. This tangled off-shore archipelago was a major smuggling point for drugs into the mainland USA during the late 1970s and early ‘80s; bales of marijuana were nicknamed ‘square grouper’ by local fishermen. It’s great fun to go kayak-ing and canoeing around here; boats can be rented from the marina, but make sure to take a map with you (they’re available for free in the visitor center).