Lake Okeechobee, meaning “Big Water,” is an important recreational destination for boating, fishing, bird watching and hiking. The massive lake covers 730 square miles (1,891 square kilometers). It measures 38 miles long by 29 miles wide (59 by 48 kilometers), and has an average depth of nine feet (three meters). The lake and surrounding wetlands drain into the Florida Everglades, making this a vital part of the local ecosystem and South Florida’s freshwater supply.
Book a fishing charter at Clewiston, a town on the southwest corner of the lake. Trips cater to every skill level, from beginner to experienced angler. The area is renowned for largemouth bass fishing, and both commercial and recreational fishermen use the lake. The best time to fish is from December through March.
The 110-mile (177-kilometer) Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail runs around the lake along the Herbert Hoover Dike. This is a beautiful route for hiking or cycling year-round. Take in views of the lake and surrounding agricultural area from the top of the embankment. Hike as much or as little of the trail as you like, and stop for a rest at picnic tables along the way. Expect to see herons and egrets around the edge of the lake, and huge flocks of a wide variety of birds during the migratory seasons.
Visit the nearby town of Belle Glade, on the south end of the lake, to play a round of golf at the Sugar Cane Golf Club. The city of Okeechobee, on the north end of the lake, hosts regular events at the Rodeo Arena. Check the arena’s website for a schedule of events.
The lake is about 70 miles (111 kilometers) northwest of Fort Lauderdale. You’ll need a car if you plan to visit on your own as a day trip from Fort Lauderdale. Tour companies run hiking trips to the lake from Fort Lauderdale and Clewiston.