Florida has a wide variety of diverse landscapes and country that offer a playground to the kayaker, no matter their ability. This article aims to bring you a brief description of some of the kayaking jewels in Florida’s crown.
The destinations are not ranked in any particular order, but to make navigation easier we have broken the locations down geographically. North, South, East and West.
The State Of Florida, United States of America
Florida is situated at the South Eastern tip of America, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on its East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico on its west. From tip to tip the state is approximately 500 miles long and 160 miles wide. The sunshine state as it’s known is home to some of the worlds most amazing beaches, keys, rivers and mountains.
Many of the kayaking routes and trails listed in this article fall in or pass through state parks that are run by the Florida State Parks Service. For more detailed information on the parks, services, fees and other information visit the Florida State Park website.
Kayaking In North Florida
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
The Ichetucknee Springs state park boasts some of the best freshwater springs in the state which are perfect for exploring via kayak. It’s a great way to keep cool in the summer months while exploring the majesty of the reserve as you follow the springs that feed into the Ichetucknee River.
Along with the unique flora, you will also some cheeky river otters, Herrens, and turtles, not to mention fish and a host of other bird life.
The trail is only 5 miles but has plenty of spots to stop and absorb the history. As the trail unwinds it reveals some of America’s history. See some of the lands occupied by the first settlers and explore the civil war cemeteries and fortification camps.
Beginning in Okefenokee Swamp this stunning kayaking adventure that takes you through Florida’s Northern heart before escorting you into the Gulf of Mexico. The trail begins at White Springs and continues for 171 miles.
The Suwannee River has various camping spots along the way. For the anglers among you, fishing is good on the river so bring along your fishing rods and make use of their fishing kayaks.
There are many options to enjoy this river, be it a 1 day meander or the 6 day kayaking trail with comfortable camping facilities along the way.
Explore many of the ruins and cultural sites along the way including the Stephen Foster State Museum.
Just off the Gulf Of Mexico is a little fishing village called Cedar Key. I defy anyone not to marvel at the artistry of their sunrises and sunsets, seen from the vantage of a kayak, they will surely take your breath away.
The waters around Cedar Key are often frequented by dolphins and other marine life. It’s not uncommon to see them jumping and playing in the waves as you paddle along.
A short 30-minute paddle away is the Atsena Otieisland where you can absorb some of the islands culture and history. There are a few other barrier islands that are easy to explore. The islands are small but full of vibrance and cluture.
Kayaking In South Florida
Disney world is not the only thing famous in Florida. So are the Everglades!
For the brave adventurer, you can take a guided or unguided tour through the historic mangrove thickets and get up close and personal with some alligators, snakes, turtles and other freaky creatures.
The everglades are vast with hundreds of islands, nooks and crannies.
For the beginner, there is the Sandy Island Loop. You start this day trip at the Gulf Coast Visitors centre. The route takes you across Chokoloskee Bay where you will turn around and then make your way back
Guided adventures are also on offer if getting close to gaters is more your style of adventure.
Indian Kay is a relatively short kayaking trip that is long in history. Launching from the shore in Islamorada, it’s a 45-minute paddle to this intriguing piece of history.
in 1836, the island was the home of Miami Dade County and now is a totally deserted ghost town. You can kayak to and around the island. Disembark and tread the actual streets the residents walked down all those years ago.
IF you enjoy the thought of kayaking back in time this is a definite must.
When you think of Miami, beaches and bikini’s are the first things that come to mind. However, in the heart of this bustling city is the Oleta River, National Park. With clear waters, the park provides an oasis for kayakers on the doorstep on one of the party capitals of the world.
Beginners can stick to the canals, but for the more experienced you can follow the canals into the Biscayne Bay and navigate your way to Sandspur Island where you can enjoy some awesome sandy beaches.
There are plenty of kayaks to rent and information centres to provide you with routes and activities.
Kayaking In East Florida
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon boasts having the largest selection of biodiversity in North America! The shallow estuary runs 156 miles and is located in both a temperate and tropical area which gives rise to its abundance of marine life.
If you are into fishing or bird watching, then seeing the estuary from the vantage point of a kayak is second to none! Take advantages of the designated camping facilities on various islands. Make it a day trip with a picnic or choose to make it a multi-day excursion.
St. John’s River
Kayaking along the St John’s River will provide you with the unrivalled opportunity of seeing the largest population of West Indian Manatees
You begin your adventure at Blue Springs State Park. By following the crystal clear blue sprints you will be escorted into the St Johns River. As you meander along you will pass close to Hontoon Island which is a designated Manatee resting place.
The river is 310 miles long with guided and unguided tours and plenty of places to stop along the way. Kayaks are available to rent and the routes are suitable for beginners.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Talbot island is a getaway from the hustle and bustle. It is one of the few undeveloped islands left. Home to diverse wild and bird life. No matter what type of outdoor activity the island can provide. It has miles of bike trails, stunning sun-bleached beaches perfect for surfing diving and swimming as well as some stunning kayaking trails.
Kayaking In West Florida
Sanibel Island is a kayaking mecca suited for beginners and experts alike. From the calm waters of Lover’s Key to the more adventurous Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. This 190-mile journey will take you through rivers along coasts and into tributaries of the fabled Florida South West coast.
The island boasts the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with numerous birds mangrove forests and wildlife it provides a unique kayaking experience.
Weeki Wachee River
The Weeki Wachee River is a freshwater river that emanates from a magnitude 1 spring in the state park where the kayaking trail starts and runs about 6 miles to the end at Rogers Park. It is a very gentle paddling experience that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
The crystal clear water gives you a birds-eye view of what is happening beneath you. You can see all manner of fish, Manatee’s and on the rare occasion alligators. (THis is rare as they tend to keep to the swampy regions of the river where paddlers don’t go)
The river is extremely popular and very child-friendly as there is not a lot of effort to propelling the kayaks downstream. The enchanted forests give rise to many stories and provide a mythic tone to your adventure.