Bowman’s Beach: An Island Gem for Paddlers

 At Sanibel's Bowman's Beach, paddlers can enjoy a tranquil journey through the mangroves. 

At Sanibel's Bowman's Beach, paddlers can enjoy a tranquil journey through the mangroves. 

Bowman’s Beach, located at the western end of Sanibel, is not just for shell seekers and sunbathers. The publicly accessible area has convenient parking and an excellent kayak launch, and I have grown quite fond of paddling there recently.

Bowman’s Beach is located at 1700 Bowman’s Beach Road. Parking for the kayak launch is rather hidden, and can be found past the initial beach parking lot. Once you are in the kayak launch parking area, there is an easy drop-off for paddlecraft and parking spaces are located nearby. One added benefit is the extra-long spaces for parking with kayak trailers. Parking is five dollars per hour for those without the necessary parking permit sticker. 

Once at the launch, you have a choice to go right or left. Or more specifically, southeast or northwest. The southeast route ends fairly quickly, so I recommend heading northwest towards Old Blind Pass. Take note of the bridge, as it is an excellent landmark for spotting the kayak launch from the water upon your return. The paddling route runs between two long stretches of mangroves. There is a yellow-crowned night heron that tends to hang out just west of the bridge.

Continuing west, you will come to a switchback. This switchback is Old Blind Pass, which will lead to Clam Bayou. With some creative zig-zagging through Clam Bayou, it is possible to reach Dinkin’s Bayou and the Gulf.

But for me, the real treat is where Old Blind Pass comes in. A small sandbar is exposed during low tides, and dozens of pelicans like to sun themselves there in the mornings. This is also where one can park a kayak on the back side of Bowman’s Beach to access the more secluded areas. 

Before heading home, there’s even a hose available near the kayak launch to rinse your feet and equipment. Happy paddling!

Walter Cheatham is an experienced paddler and ACA-Certified Paddling Instructor. Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club founded by Sanibel Sea School to help the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribepaddlers.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.