The trip included plenty of cruising across the perfectly still water, along with 360- degree spins, and a number of stops to discuss our surroundings. Captain Jerome explained how Goodland islocated at the beginning of the 10,000 islands chain. These islands run southeast along the bottom tip of Florida. The last island in the chain, Flamingo, is very close to Homestead and the beginning of the Florida Keys. About five minutes into our trip we passed through “Hell’s Gate.” This mangrove-lined passageway is basically the entrance to the large island chain. It is given its name due to the difficulty involved in finding one’s way out of these waterways.
Throughout the tour, we saw brown pelicans, rosette spoonbills, white ibis, osprey, oyster beds, and more. First Mate, Johnny Cyr, pointed out a manatee we all would have missed as we were busy watching a pod of dolphins swim by.
As we came back out of the mangroves, we passed along the east side of Goodland where we were able to see the quaint cottages that line the shore. We couldalso see the condos near Key Marco overlooking the island. Key Marco, also known as Horr’s Island, is just to the west of the entrance to Goodland.
As the tour came to an end I was full of new information regarding the area surrounding Goodland. I now have the perfect answer to describe our little island’s location. Goodland is south of Naples, east of Marco Island, at the top of the 10,000 islands chain, eighty-nine miles from Flamingo, 144 miles north of Cuba, and sandwiched just between Horr’s Island and “Hell’s Gate.”
American Airboat Tours can be reached at 239-970-2335.
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland.