Launch your kayak from either Koreshan Historic State Park or Lovers Key State Park for a paddle into Estero Bay to see Mound Key, a significant Calusa archaeological site that is now its own state park.
Location: Estero Bay
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
A massive midden – a mound of oyster shells discarded by this seafaring people – rises up to 32 feet high from the shallow waters of the bay.
Both archaeological evidence and historic records, most notably the journal of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, who lived among the Calusa and other Florida peoples for 17 years and published his memoirs in 1575. Shipwrecked as a boy of 13, he understood enough of what the Calusa were communicating to escape death. He described Mound Key as “Ta little island in the middle that has a circumference of about half a league, with other little islets around it. On this … Carlos had his headquarters and presently his successors have it there. From there one may go by canoes to the arm of the sea…” Fontaneda acted as interpreter for Pedro Menendez de Aviles when he met with Carlos in 1566.
Driven out by Spanish conquistadors and felled by the introduction of European diseases, the Calusa moved south through the Ten Thousand Islands to the Keys and Havana, and vanished from history’s pages. Mound Key State Park enables you to walk around the site of their village and imagine a different time, a different page in Florida’s long history.