Bird Rookery Paddle (High-Tide Route)
Distance: 2.87 miles
Level: Novice paddlers
Summary: Due to the prevalence of oyster beds, this route only should be used at high tide. The tour to the rookery begins with a peaceful paddle through the mangrove forest. The remainder of the paddle is the same as the Bird Rookery Paddle route. You will follow along a seawall built by the Turnbull Settlement in 1766-76 and also take in a view of homes along Riverside Drive. The route passes under the North Causeway and through the New Smyrna Beach City Marina. Watch for big boats because you will be at the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The rookeries are two mangrove islands where water birds choose to nest year-round. You may see birds on the nest during mating season – February-June. Pelicans inhabit the area the rest of the year.
The islands were protected by Theodore Roosevelt – a bird enthusiast – in 1908. These are the only two rookery islands in the area that are protected by Presidential order. Both islands are just east of the NSB Marina.
Please use binoculars or a camera zoom lens for a closer look at the nesting birds and keep a good distance between you and the rookery.
Directions: Launch behind the Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Drive. Paddle to the left and follow the property line to make a left turn into the canal beside the property. After a brief paddle, you will see the opening to a small creek on the right. Turn into this area. Note: There are a lot of oysters and shallow areas.
Paddle across the ditch and keep paddling until you come out in an open bay area. Turn right to paddle toward Riverside Drive and turn left. Continue under the North Causeway, through the New Smyrna Beach Marina and to the two bird rookeries.
On the return, when you get to the bay area, head north and between the mangrove trees. Continue a short distance until you come out again at Riverside Drive. Paddle a short distance. You will see the opening on the right to the long canal that will take you back to the launch area.
Launch GPS: N 29 02' 16.24" W 80 55' 08.36"