Traveling wholly from one side of Florida to the other by boat is possible thanks to the Okeechobee waterway. This peaceful waterway goes through miles of untouched Florida Everglades and thousands of acres of Old Florida scrub and ranchland. It is the only navigable cross Florida canal.The system of rivers and estuaries connects Lake Okeechobee with both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterway is 154 miles long and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean near Stuart, Florida to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers. It is the only true cross Florida canal and that joins the east coast of Florida to the west coast.
Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway are part of the complex water management system known as the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project. This project was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and is managed by them and by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
There are numerous opportunities for viewing wildlife such as the roseate spoon bill, which was once hunted to near extinction for its feathers. Spoonbills have made an impressive comeback thanks to conservation efforts.
Another bird which is considered to be among the rarest in the U.S. is the Reddish Egret, which normally is only seen in this region.While observing the many unique forms of wildlife, make sure to remain aware of the potential unseen hazards along your route. Submerged logs, vessels, and shallow areas can appear at a moments notice so keep a heads up for them. While many obstacles are clearly marked in other regions, Okeechobee is known for its hidden ones, so be careful.
Since Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake located wholly in the continental United States. (Lake Michigan is the largest), it can get nasty. You should know which forecasts cover the area.
Traveling this waterway across Florida is sure to impress, so make it a safe passage, anyone planning their Great Loop route using the Okeechobee Waterway, it is advisable to stay in touch with the Army Corps of Engineers for lock status, lake levels, wind & weather, and ensure that your experience will be one you cherish for years to come.