Southwest Florida

Post-Irma: Southwest Florida beaches unharmed; some things still closed

As of Oct. 13, 2017

Despite Irma’s best efforts, Southwest Florida’s beautiful beaches and hotels are ready to welcome you back.

Most area hotels have opened or are reopening during the first week of October. An exception: The waterfront Naples Grande Beach Resort in North Naples, which may not reopen until December, according to JoNell Modys, Collier County Visitors Bureau public relations and communications manager.

Even the hotels on Marco Island, where the eye came ashore, have reopened.

Nearby Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Goodland are bouncing back but slowly. This area had an 8 to 10 foot storm surge, Modys said, and businesses are still recovering.

Several hotels are open there:

The Ivey House Inn in Everglades City has reopened. The newer Inn portion came through the storm well; however, the historic Ivy House Lodge and Cottage were seriously damaged. (We are sad; we love the Ivey House and its history.)

Parkway Motel on Chokoloskee Island, a mom and pop place that attracts European nature lovers and wins stellar reviews, and River Wilderness Waterfront Villas in Everglades City are open.

Many restaurants in Everglades City are re-opening for stone crab season Oct. 16. See a Florida Rambler roundup here.

Here are other highlights:

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an Audubon facility with a long scenic boardwalk, was hit hard with many trees down atop the boardwalk. It has re-opened and you now can walk a short loop at a reduced entrance fee ($10 adults; under 18 free.) Sadly, Corkscrew lost two of its iconic Landmark Trees. These were 12 original cypress trees that were hundreds of years old; each was given a name. (Da Vinci and Guy Bradley were the lost trees; the others are fine.)

The national park facilities in Southwest Florida are closed for the moment – the Gulf Visitor Center and Shark Valley facilities of Everglades National Park. The visitor center at Big Cypress National Wildlife Reserve is open but many trails have limbs and trees across trails. Scenic Loop Road is closed.  We’ll update this page with news.

The area’s state parks are open—the wonderful beachfront Delnor Wiggins State Parkand Lovers Key State Park as well as the Everglades-area Collier-Seminole State Park and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

You can still book fishing charters at Calusa Island Marina in Goodland and there are airboat rides, fishing guide and kayak outfitters back in business in Everglades City.

Naples Botanical Gardens reopened Oct. 1. It lost 230 large trees, but its president says: “Nature is resilient and so is Naples Botanical Garden.” You want a sign of how much damage the winds did? The garden’s debris pile covers more than two acres, all six feet deep.

Naples Zoo reopens Oct. 14.

The Naples Pier is open, but only the first half is safe to use and open to the public.




One Comment

  1. Jennifer Juergens says:

    Thank you for the updates!

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