Port of the Islands History
22 miles southeast of Naples on U.S. 41 might sound like the middle of nowhere, and that’s exactly how we like it. Deep inside the western flank of the Everglades and the 10,000 Islands sits an oasis of civilization, Port of the Islands.
The Port of the Islands Resort started out as an odd Florida real estate project back in 1963 called the Remuda Ranch. The real estate developers would fly prospective buyers into Remuda Ranch, entertain them at the resort, show them swamp land they could buy and fly them back out.
Around 1980 the Remuda Ranch was purchased by Bill Ray of Newport Beach, California and renamed to Port of the Islands. In 1984 he began a multi-phased, multi-million dollar redevelopment of the area that included residential living to the Port of the Islands community.
Notable visitors and residents of Port of the Islands community include:
Juan Gomez, a buccaneer that sailed with notorious pirate Gasparilla, retired on Panther Key located at the end of the Faka-Union Canal in the Ten Thousand Islands; where he lived until 1900 when he died at the age of 122.
Al Capone, infamous gangster, spent a few wild evenings at Remuda Ranch in the 1930’s.
Bill Dance, fishing legend and outdoor television personality, and Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, have fished out of Port of the Islands Marina on many occasions.
Port of the Islands is now known as one of the best marinas on the coast, but also one of the least known. The area is one of the best jumping off points to exploring the wonders of the Everglades. Port of the Islands is surrounded by state and federal protected parks and preserves including Everglades National Park, Collier-Seminole State Park Preserve, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Picayune Strand State Forest. Guests will have access to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Notable points about this collective ecosystem include:
It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.
It is the largest U.S. wilderness east of the Mississippi River.
It contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
It is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America.
It is home to more than 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.
It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance.