Naples, Florida sits along the Gulf of Mexico and is known for white sandy beaches, golf courses, high-end shopping, and fine dining restaurants. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the US and is the sixth-highest per capita income in the country. With a population of about 20,000 people the population swells in the winter time when snowbirds flock the area.
The Naples Fishing Pier was built in 1888 and it is surrounded by miles of white sandy beaches. The pier even allows fishing without a fishing license every day except Sundays.
The surrounding area is very residential with a few shopping streets with nice restaurants and coffee shops.
Craig Cat Rental
Craig Cat is a small family owned business in Orlando, Florida which makes Craig Cat boats. What’s a Craig Cat? It is a small motorized pontoon boat with 30HP and seating for 2.
In the past couple of years the Naples area has seen an explosion of Craig Cat rentals. We decided to rent one and try it out. We had seen one before on display at the Orlando Airport many years ago and then saw one being launched at the lake we used to live at, Hayden Lake, in Idaho. We had debated maybe buying one to add to our watercraft arsenal but never did it. So it is time to try one out!!
We had a difficult time finding one for rent as most of the companies were already booked well ahead of time. We finally found one at Island Hopper at Port of the Islands Marina outside of Naples so off we went. The marina sits along the Faka Union Canal just off the Tamiami Highway.
Island Hopper rents the Craig Cats where you drive the boat and you follow the tour guide through the 10,000 Islands northern portion which is part of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The southern part of 10,000 Islands, south of Everglades City, is part of the Everglades National Park. The destination is White Horse Key for some shelling! The tour takes about 3 or 4 hours with a bit of instruction in the beginning and then you drive and just follow the leader until you get to the outer White Horse Key. It was great fun.
Off we go with some slow speeds as we head through the manatee area and then once past that area off we went!!! The Craig Cat handles a bit different than standard boats with the captain sitting on the right side with a throttle on the right and the steering as a lever on the left. The steering lever you move forward to turn right and move backwards to turn left. A bit awkward but it works!
After about an hour we arrived at the sandy white beach of White Horse Key. We could just run the boat up on the sand and get out and walk around, have a snack, take a swim, or whatever you want to do.
It wasn’t long before it was time to head back! It was another hour to get back to the marina with great site seeing along the way and just a fun trip overall. AND it is a great way to see the 10,000 Islands.
We had a great time and highly recommend Island Hopper!
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