One of the great benefits of taking a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida is being able to soak up the tropical weather and atmosphere without ever having to leave the mainland. You can literally feel as though you are lazing on your own tropical island, with white sand beaches and palm trees dotting the Florida coastline. Another piece of nature that is commonly found in and around Florida comes from that tropical climate, with mangroves trees growing in some rather unexpected locations. These fantastic looking plants are able to survive thanks to the warm waters found in the Gulf of Mexico, and because of the temperate winters that are experienced in most parts of Florida.

There are three different types of mangrove trees commonly found in Gulf Coast Florida, each of which has been named with a color of their own. The Red Mangrove is typically found close to areas of open water, whereas the White Mangrove thrives close to the shoreline. The Black Mangrove may very well be the sturdies of the three, as it can grow back from the roots, even after it has been killed off by a particularly harsh winter. The black variety tend to spring up a little farther to the north than the other two, which tend to grow in the southern part of the state.

What may come as a surprise to many is that roughly 90% of all mangroves are found in the southern part of Florida and occupy as much as 500,000 acres. About half of that total area belongs to the government, which means those mangroves are protected by law. This was done to protect the ecosystem that grows in and around areas where mangroves thrive, as large chunks were torn away with developments made to the Southern Florida area.

The ecosystems that we are talking about harbor all kinds of interesting fish and wildlife, which is why the mangrove is such an important part of the Gulf Coast region. This is an area that relies heavily in the tourist trade, with many people coming to soak in the wildlife as well as the sea, sun and sand. Just a few of the fish that congregate around the waterlogged roots of the mangrove include the snook, the mangrove snapper and the blue angelfish. The branches of the mangrove trees provide shelter and roosts for magnificent birds such as the brown pelican.

As mentioned already, the Gulf Coast of Florida is a magnificent place to go if you want to get the feel of the tropics, whilst also getting up close and personal with nature. Since mangroves occupy a large area of the coastline, one of the best ways to view the trees and the nature that thrives around them is via Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board.

The Don Pedro Island State Park is one of the most unique places to visit on a SUP board. Explore one of Florida’s natural mangrove tunnels. This estuary is home to a very large colony of starfish, and live soft coral. The tunnel leads inside of Don Pedro Island to a hidden saltwater lagoon. Consider a tour of Don Pedro Island today, an experience and location you will never forget.