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TIDES & WEATHER

TIDES

Although the tide range in Southwest Florida only averages about 24 inches, due to our shallow waters the tides can determine where you can and can’t access by water. Generally, the open bays tend to be accessible at any tide, but some mangrove areas can become high and dry at low tide. Another thing to consider are tide heights. Tides are based on “mean low tide”, which is considered “0 (zero)”. A negative tide is any water level below this, and generally happens around the full and new moon phases, and cold fronts in the winter months. When a tide chart says that the high tide is 2.2′, it means the water level will be 2.2′ above mean low tide. Our tides in Southwest Florida are irregular. In most other places, there are 2 high tides and 2 low tides each day. The tide cycle is approximately 24.5-25 hours long and repeats every 14 days – but not on the west coast of Florida. Here, we sometimes have 2 tides a day, and sometimes only one. Sometimes, high tides are lower than some low tides. To throw another wrench into the equation, North and Northeasterly winds can drop our water levels as much as 1′ or more, and Southwesterly winds can raise water levels. Think of this like a storm surge. Water is pushed in and out by the wind, depending on wind direction and speed. The best way to anticipate what water levels will be is to use a tide graph, not a tide chart. A tide graph shows the water level at any given time, which also allows you to see how quickly the tide is falling or rising, allowing you to predict tidal currents. A tide chart only shows the times of high & low tides and the water levels at those times, so you have no way of knowing what is happening in between. In most places, that’s no problem, but with our irregular tides, a tide graph gives you much more accurate information. You can see the difference between tide charts and tide graphs below. Click on the buttons to view current charts or graphs for our Bunche Beach and Pelican Bay locations.

WEATHER

Our weather can generally be split into two categories: Dry Season (Winter) and Rainy Season (Summer). When exactly the change between the seasons occurs can vary, but generally, the Dry Season is November-April, while the Rainy Season is May-October.

During the Dry Season, it rarely rains. Most rain comes with cold fronts. As these cold fronts move through our area, we generally get some rain, the wind turns northerly, and the temperatures drop. Usually, conditions normalize within 2-3 days. On cooler days, many prefer to paddle in the late morning or afternoon, as air temperatures can be as low as 40 degrees at 9 AM. Average temperatures are mid 70s during the day and low 60s at night.

During the Rainy Season, it rains and thunders almost every afternoon, though oftentimes storms are very localized and affect different areas. The forecast will usually show an 80% chance of rain everyday. Temperatures average in the lower 90s during the day and the upper 70s at night. During the Rainy Season, we recommend planning trips in the morning, as it tends to be cooler and rain/storm chances are generally lower. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out in the afternoon; you just need to be a little more aware of the weather.

The main things to consider when planning your trip are inclement weather (rain, thunderstorms), strong winds (over 15 MPH), and temperature. If you’re looking at the best time to go on a particular day, we suggest taking temperatures, tides, and inclement weather into consideration. If you’re unsure, we are happy to answer any questions, and to assist in picking the best day and time for your adventure!

GIFT CARDS

BUNCHE BEACH

Smiling women wearing life vests

PELICAN BAY

People on SUP and kayaks raising their paddles

BIG HICKORY ISLAND

People kayaking on a lake