If you are looking for the best places to kayak in Florida, this article is for you. For those who embrace summer’s heat and water sports, a kayaking vacation is a perfect getaway. Florida, dubbed as one of the best kayaking spots in the United States, has diverse ecosystems and pristine waters that all outdoor lovers would enjoy. Kayaking is one of the most common types of water sports in warmer parts of the country. There are tons of shallow ocean fishing sites, rivers, ponds, creeks, streams, and reservoirs in Florida. To be honest, Florida has over a hundred places that a kayaker or paddler would love to be. You will find miles and miles of waterways that are accessible by kayaks or canoes. Saltwater, freshwater, mangrove tunnels, kayak trails, you name it, Florida got it.
If you enjoy small towns, kayaking in Cedar Key will be right up your alley. There are 13 small islands in this group, all of which have lovely trails and an abundance of wildlife. Kayaking with dolphins is a popular activity in and around this historic fishing community on the gulf coast. In addition to taking in the scenery from the kayak, you can stroll through the downtown area and relax with a cup of coffee. It’s one of those small towns you see in the movie where time stands still. Back to paddling, please note that only a seasoned sea kayaker should approach this water. Yes, even a complete novice can have fun paddling here, but it’s best to check the weather before you go. In the downtown area, you’ll find a few kayak rental shops where you can get more information about the area. The bayous are the best places to paddle if you want a safe session.
Indian Key Historic Park is actually an island inside the Florida park system. This island can only be reached by boat, and it takes around twenty minutes to reach via a kayak or canoe. This island has surrounding blue calm water, and you can come to the island from the Islamorada by paddling. If you are trying to get away from the loud city life for a while, the Indian Key is a great place to be. Once upon a time, this place was used for shipwreck-salvaging business purposes, but it is now a place for hiking, sunbathing, picnicking, and other outdoor activities. There is also a tower to climb and places to snorkel in different parts of the island. Please remember that there are no facilities on the island, and it is up to you to bring enough drinkable water and food with you. Also, you are not allowed to bring your furry friend to the park (no pet allowed).
The Wakulla River
Wakulla River is an eleven-mile-long river in Wakulla County. Unlike many other kayaking rivers in Florida, the Wakulla River is totally free. There are designated fishing areas, where you can fish with a fishing license. No matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned paddler, the Wakulla river got a thing or two to offer. You will find some tides on the river, and it should not take more than four hours to finish the kayak trail. You will find manatees, plus turtles, a variety of birds, gators, and more wildlife while calmly paddling on the Wakulla River. The Wakulla River is great to paddle in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. The water is warm enough during these seasons, and you can even want swimming. In a nutshell, this is a great Floridian kayak river to look for this summer.
Silver Springs State Park: Silver Springs River
Silver Springs State Park is a Florida Stat park situated on the Silver River in Marion Country. This park hosts the Silver Springs, the first tourist Attraction of Florida. If you want to have wildlife viewing on the kayaking excursion, Silver Springs is one of the best springs for kayaking in Florida. There are not many rivers to kayak in Florida with more beauty, history, and wildlife than Silver Springs River. You will see many tropical birds, alligators, otters, armadillos, Sherman fox squirrel, fox, turtles, manatees, and many species of fish. According to Wikipedia, the Silver River has a length of 7.2 km and boasts tons of activities. Besides kayaking, you can also take clear bottom boats or canoes to cross the paddling trail. No matter if you are going solo, tandem, or taking your kids to the park, you are guaranteed to have fun.
Coaster Dune Lakes
Coaster Dune Lakes are one of the true gems that one paddler can find in The United States. There are very few coaster dune lakes in the world, and Florida got one of them. Walton county hosts 26 miles of coastline along with the 15 named coaster dune lakes. Is it said to be 10,000 years old, and was formed by the winds. You will find many kayakers and paddle borders paddling on the tea-colored tannic lake surrounded by sand dunes. The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico can be seen from here too! The freshwater content sits only a few feet away from the saltwater, separated by the sand dunes. Besides the scenic spots, you will also be able to check the diverse wildlife and placid water. Also, if you don’t have your own kayak, you can rent one there.
Tampa Bay Tarpon Springs
Tarpon springs of Tampa Bay is one of the best places to meet dolphins while kayaking in Florida. If you are wondering where to kayak with manatees in Florida, this is the place to be. It’s home to dolphins, manatees, stingrays, and definitely tarpon! So, if you are more into wildlife viewing, Tarpon Springs is a great place to start kayaking. There are rentals where you could get a completely clear kayak to see the manatees swimming beneath it. If you take the tour, you will find that there are many picturesque stops along the paddling trail, and you can listen to the guide about the history, wildlife, marine life, and more about the area. Once you finish paddling, you can visit the waterfront shops and the famous greek restaurants.
John Pennkamp Coral Reed State Park
John Pennkamp Coral Reed State Park is the first undersea park in the United States made to protect the only living coral reef in the continental United States. It comes with around 70 nautical square miles of adjacent Atlantic ocean waters. John Pennkamp Coral Reed State Park has a length of 25 miles, and it extends three miles into the Atlantic ocean. There are two different kayak landings available in the park. If you want, you can also rent a kayak or canoe here. You will have to pay $12 per hour for a kayak, and $20 for a canoe. They also have standup paddleboards available to rent. If you are into kayak fishing, you can do that here too. Fishing is permitted in some designated areas of the park. Besides the paddling and kayaking trails, one can also go swimming on the beach and walk on the short but beautiful trails, picnic, and more.
The Blackwater River: The Blackwater State park
The Blackwater River is a 56.6-mile-long river in the Blackwater River State Park. Out of this 56.6 miles of river, 31 miles can be navigated by canoe, kayak, or small boats. The Black Water river designated paddle trail starts from the Kennedy Bridge near Munson, Florida, to Deaton Bridge of Blackwater River State Park. There are different types of wildlife found nearby, including white-tailed deer, turkeys, river otters, bobcats, and more. You will also find a variety of birds, including crows, Mississippi kites, woodpeckers, and more in the surrounding area. You will not find any tides in this river, making it a great paddling river for both the newbies and seasoned paddlers.
Hillsborough River State Park
Hillsborough River State Park is situated in the northeast corner of Hillsborough county. This state park covers 2,990 acres and has around seven miles of trails that run throughout it. Canoeing/kayaking is a common activity in this park. You can either bring your own kayak or rent one here. It costs $25 per (plus tax) canoe or kayak for the first two hours. If you want, you can add more hours for $5 (plus tax). The Hillsborough River flows for over 50 miles through the swamps, pine Flatwoods, and marshes to the Hillsborough Bay. If you are planning to do other activities like camping, bicycling, swimming, and more, it is a great park to do so. It also offers RV and tent camping with electricity on most of the campsites. They are equipped with water, a fire ring, and a picnic table. More information on camping in this state park can be found here.
Chassahowitzka River, or simply The Chazz, is one of the most popular rivers in Florida for paddlers. The Chaz is famous for its clear and pristine water conditions. It is one of those rivers where you are just to paddle for fun. I would say, if you are expecting a lot of wildlife, you will be disappointed a bit. The parking at the gate is only $5. You can kayak, canoe, or snorkel in this river system. If you love manatees, you will be glad to hear that there are a lot of manatees found in this area. Besides manatees, you will also find a great variety of birds, river otters, turtles, and water snakes. The Chaz is popular for its myriad of side creeks and hidden springs. This shallow river is great for new kayakers.