kayaking in florida

Kayaking In Florida | Our Favorite Spots To Go Kayaking In Florida

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In Florida, waterways are surprisingly abundant. Kayaking in Florida is definitely one of the best ways to experience the diverse beauty of Florida’s natural waterways. Of course, Florida is, without doubt, a favorite holiday spot in the world, with beautiful springs, lakes, coastal creeks as well as plenty of fishing sites to explore. When you kayak with manatees Florida, it is like riding with bliss and into paradise. The best kayaking Florida spots range from paddling through various kinds of water bodies.  Some are through thick but accommodating forests with greenish moss. Furthermore, particular waterways have a rich history, diverse wildlife, hallmarks, and more. In the following section, we will be discussing our favorite kayaking destinations.

Related Article: The Best River Kayak

14 of Our Favorite Spots to Go Kayaking in Florida

 1. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

The location of this park is at the heart of flat agricultural lands in North Florida. It is indeed a precious gem of the state. Here, kayaking in Florida has a new face. Crystalline, ice-cold water springs forth from freshwater springs flowing directly into the Ichetucknee River.

In the 1970s, it served as a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of Interior. In addition, it is famous for being named “the clearest water in the world.”

Even though history precedes this river, it is open season after season for tubers and swimmers all year round for kayaking and canoeing. Kayaking here is best on weekdays in off-seasons. You will catch otters playing or a blue heron basking in sunshine with turtles.

By the river lies ancient moss-covered Cyprus and limestone banks. The landscape, which is the same as Native Americans lived in, is a beautiful scenery for photographs and making incredible memories.  

2. Jacksonville

Jacksonville may not be the first location that comes to mind. However, it is one of the best places for kayaking in Florida. It boasts of vast oceans, rivers, creeks and numerous wildlife. The fundamental elements of this beautiful place include a variety of options like moonlight kayaking, romantic trips, excursions, tourism and enjoying nature’s bliss.  

kayaking in floridaSt. John’s river is a a windy but chilly part of Jacksonville provides extremely sweet and relaxing kayaking vines. The regular cypress trees and water elements are replaced with modern skyscrapers and classic urban features.

For new kayakers and experienced ones alike, Jacksonville is a new way of kayaking in Florida. It is merely a break from the norm. Close to St. John is the river city brewing company and a boat ramp whose primary purpose is to offer convenience.

The route from the boat ramp allows a cross over towards the Northside, thus beating the traffic which sometimes may be unbearable. After crossing over from St. John, you may consider going through the tunnel close to the railroad bridge. Kayakers often paddle beneath or towards the Tines-Union building to catch a glimpse of McCoy’s creek.

McCoy’s creek is a piece of modern jungle. The tree canopy is made up of Ibis, Storks, Egrets and a variety of coastal birds. Other spots to explore along the coast of Jacksonville include the River City Arts Market, Jacksonville Landing, the Hyatt, the Jacksonville Piers, Metropolitan Park, Maxwell House Plant, Hogan’s creek, as well as other historic sites.

We prefer to refer to Jacksonville as a place of urban kayaking in Florida. A simple blend of both natural and artificial sceneries to make your kayaking experience full of pleasant memories.

You should watch out for kayak traffic, unpredictable currents, winds and swift change in the weather.  Other factors to consider are the surface condition of water, restricted access to some areas and paddling routes.

Kayaking in St. John isn’t necessarily easy for beginners. You may prefer to go through smaller waterways before moving here for the best of kayaking in Florida. However, if you want to go all out, go with a professional guide and be sure of their capabilities for the sake of emergency.

3. Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs is at a location that enables people to easily travel from different corners of Florida to enjoy crystal clear waters. For a personal and up-close interaction with wildlife, Rainbow springs KS where you want to be. In Rainbow Springs, you cankayak with manatees Florida, birds, varieties of fishes, turtles, and otters.

Rainbow Springs is at the North Central sphere of Florida with pumps of fresh water from a neighboring river. The gentle current flows about 6 miles into the Withlacoochee River. Paddling along that path, you will find flora and fauna. Both are of West Central Florida.

Next are a moss-covered pine and Cyprus and all forms of water creatures. Rainbow Springs Park in Dunnellon has a paddling route taking kayakers through the Ocala National Forest and into a loop of Rainbow Springs again.

Regarded as the fourth largest spring in the state of Florida, Rainbow Springs was a National Natural Landmark in 1972. It remains an excellent place for kayaking in Florida, a tourist attraction, and now a protected wilderness area. Rentals are available at the park as well as restrooms, a picnic area, hiking trails and somewhere you can grab a bite.

4. Manatee River

Kayak with manatees Florida in the Manatee River. It is at the heart of Florida, a kayak trial with a typical landscape of moss-covered mangroves, pine, and scrub. The Manatee River flows through Manatee County to Tampa Bay per 46 miles.

Manatee River is a favorite spot for kayaking in Florida. The upper portion of the Manatee River Run is a great place to begin your kayak journey. From Fort Hamer Country Park to Manatee Dam, the trail is perfect for beginners.

Sandbars with picnic areas are a very much a welcome side attraction. You can also stretch your legs after a long time of kayaking. Weekdays are often less clumsy. In fact, few people are present at this time. It is the best time to enjoy kayaking in the Manatee River, with birds, manatees, alligators, and other wildlife.

You may come along with your gear or rent it for as long as you may need to. Guides are available at your disposal. Manatee River is a great launch point.  

5. Suwannee River

Suwannee River has the natural and typical landscape of Florida waterways, but this river’s rich history adds to its beauty. Native Americans and the first settlers of the US colonies had the first taste of this great beauty.  

kayaking in florida

Stephen Foster State Park by White Springs near the US 41 Bridge is an excellent starting point. Moving along, you will find ancient Cyprus, pine forests, plus freshwater springs running into the river. You should not miss Suwannee River State Park in Live Oak for a picnic break. Also, the Civil War fortification camps and old historical cemetery are along this route.

Camp Branch, Swift Creek, and Woods Ferry are as well a few common conservation points. Toward the end is Spirit of the Suwannee River State Park, a favorite spot amongst hikers and campers, and a place for kayak rentals and other recreational activities.  

6. Cedar Key

If you do not look forward to asphalt jungles and famous horde by the river, Cedar Key is just the place for you. It is a fishing village off the Gulf of Mexico colored with pink and purple sunsets. It is the perfect spot for kayaking in Florida.

For the best kayaking in Florida with jaw-dropping sights, Cedar Key is an excellent place to start. About 30 minutes of paddling leads you to the historic island of Atsena Otie, the ancient Native American water trail.

The island is also a spot to look out for Native American artifacts such as arrowheads, pottery, and other artwork. After spending quality time there, you may paddle gently back to shore into a Florida coast sunset.

Cedar Key is a place with numerous kinds of wildlife like blue herons, eagle, and osprey nests. They are all protected in the mangrove forests and pose no potential harm. During summer, you may be lucky to have a glimpse of leatherback turtles and dolphins enjoying gentle blue waters.

7. Everglades, South Florida

There are so many places to go kayaking in Florida, and the Everglades is one of the best. It is different unique varieties of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Everglades City is a great start point. Rent a kayak at one of many sublets, but it is excellent if you already have your gear.

Kayaking into the famous swamp gives a clear view of alligators, turtles and ancient mangrove forests. Everglades is a straight gateway to Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Waterway in Collier County.

Beginners should test the waters from the Sand Fly Island loop. It’s fairly easy and achievable on your first try out. You will also find the waterway trail easy to paddle through, from Gulf Coast Visitor Center, through Chokoloskee Bay, and back across mangrove islands.

Expert kayakers take Wilderness Waterway trail along the west side of Everglades National Park then to Flamingo. This particular Trail takes five days consecutively, but camping facilities are located alongside. The journey is not necessarily long and tedious all the way.

8. Oleta River

Oleta River is situated in the heartbeat of Florida — Miami. Miami, as buzzing and bustling as it might be, is indeed a land of great beauty. We speak the truth when we say Oleta River and its inlets makes for better a kayaking spot in Miami.

Kayaking in Florida probably the most relaxing way to escape the stress that comes with life in Miami.  The mangrove forest reserves of the metropolis usher you into Oleta. Besides, its famous sandy beach of 200 ft. is excellent for swimming and chilling with friends.

Several trails are running through neighboring parks where birds rest in their nests. In addition to this, indigenous flora and fauna flanks the whole area. Beginners enjoy the luxury the park offers, including guided tours, secure trails and monitored wildlife. However, if you fancy doing it alone, maps are available, and they are pretty easy to follow.  

There are also several outlets for rentals supplies, and snacks.  

9. The Coldwater Creek

The Coldwater Creek prides itself in being “the Kayak capital of Florida.” Therefore, without much publicity, it is a hot spot for kayaking in Florida. Tourist enthusiasts, campers, adventurers and travelers fancy it as “a must visit.”

The Coldwater Creek is actually in a small town, Panhandle, and is famed as the best kayaking trail in the area. Additionally, there is a recreation spot with rental services and a lovely spring fed creek.  

The fast running currents are suitable for both beginners and experienced kayakers. Furthermore, you may take a walk upstream while enjoying the views from the environment.

A few beautiful houses are planted along the creek giving you a magnificent landscape, ancient pine, hardwood forests, scrub habitat, and hammocks.

10. Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island along the Gulf Coast is a slice of heaven in Florida. Aside from being a well-known destination for outdoor adventures, it is also a haven for wildlife.  

Sanibel Island is next to Captiva Island; a barrier island of the tropical coastal area. Darling National Wildlife Refuge of Sanibel Island has a place for many varieties of birds as well as flora and fauna. Also, the Commodore Creek is a start spot for trails.

Here, you will see dolphins and manatees raising their heads off water to enjoy air and nature; it is a breathtaking sight to kayak with manatees Florida.

11. Indian Key Historic State Park

If you have seen movies of ghost towns with amazing waterways, there is a slim chance that you have probably seen Indian key. This highway of Florida has green islands with pale-bluish (gem-like appearance) water.

kayaking in floridaIt is, in fact, a tropical paradise. Just load up your gear, explore and kayak away. The fascinating yet mystic history of this park makes it an all-time favorite spot kayaking in Florida.

Swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and swift paddling is quite famous in Indian Key. It is preserved forever as a state park because of a twisted yet rich history.

For best kayaking in Florida, Indian key is a place you must visit. Reminiscent ancient ruins from the 1800s give a clear-cut picture of how the area thrived. Overgrown jungle-like vegetation, street signs, old buildings, and deserted streets are what is left of what was once a big community.

This location takes a route different from your start-off trail. To get here, you should go with a guide especially if it is your first time. You can rent kayaks at Robbie’s Marina and its tarpon and get yourself a guide from there.

Yes, Indian Key used to be a coral reef and is excellent for snorkeling. However, you should watch out for sharp-edged reef rocks and prickly parts of the shoreline. Also, a dock is seen around the plains, but it is often too high for paddlers. For the sake of a thrilling experience, consider a lower side of the shore where rocks are less elevated and safer.  

Kayaking in Indian keys is usually around shallow water and flat seagrass. Both are safe and clearly shows you manatees and dolphins and how they interact. Also, a good number of rare wildlife are seen on rare occasions. Paddling softly will give you much satisfaction.

12. Bahia Honda State Park

From wherever you are viewing the Bahia Honda state park, you can never miss the most important part of the park – the water. From the beach, you have incredible views of Bahia Honda Island.

At the bay, It is impossible not to relax with this view, and some people often choose this spot as a place for a romantic getaway or somewhere to spend time with their loved ones. Kayaking in Florida is simply more than what a person should enjoy alone. The more, the merrier.  

Bahia Honda Island is known for its wavy currents softly moving along two-thirds of a mile out in the Atlantic. It has a view of the historic saddleback bridge at Bahia Honda State Park.

On a clear day, the inviting blue of Bahia Honda Key reveals underwater creatures. For just one or two hours of kayaking in Florida, visitors can rent kayaks at the park and explore the coastline. You may simply explore the bay side or circumnavigate the entire island.

Note that rental kayaks cannot be taken through the bay. It is always preferable to come along with your gear. Timing the tide is as important as having your gear. You should kayak towards the direction of the tide for best results.

13. Peanut Island – Kayaking in Florida Oil Island

Peanut Island is an artificial island in the center of the Port of Palm Beach. Famous for its oil production, Peanut Island is an 80-acre property of pure goodness. It has picnic shelters, camping sites, and a vast perimeter of peanuts.

The rocky shoreline of Peanut Island is an abode for many colorful fishes and creatures. It was designed to have a sandy-bottom with a pizza outlet by the side. You can grab a slice (or a couple) without stress.  

Even though it is man-made, it promises a great deal of natural experience such as manatees, rays, small sharks as well as many types of colorful reef fish. Well, except for the fact that you cannot see underwater.  

14. Southwest Florida: The Great Calusa Blueway

From the topmost side of Mound Key, you will see seagulls and pelicans. Seeing them, however, is not as exciting as kayaking through the Calusa Gateway of Florida.

Adventurous kayaking experience is what you get in Florida. The trail winds direct your kayak softly. Additionally, about 300 bird species have been identified in this location. Your journey around this shore is made easy with a phone application, giving you directions, and a personal guide, although the water is clearly and thoroughly marked.

A new kayaker can easily map out waterways for a great time on the water. The well-versed ones also find it appropriate.  

Kayak with Manatees in Florida

kayaking in florida

Many of Florida’s wonders are best enjoyed on water by kayaking, and for this reason, you will never forget your first experience with manatees. While kayaking through the beautiful waters of Florida, their plump yet chubby features outlines their playfulness.

When the weather is much cooler, around November to April, kayaking in Florida is super cool. Like dolphins and whales, manatees come over to the surface for a breath of air; it is one of the most beautiful things you would ever see.

Naturally, manatees inhabit clear and crystal waters, seeing them beneath you as you ride is thrilling. When the weather cools off, however, they change inhabitants in search of food and growth. Sometimes, this change subjects them to adverse conditions such as boat collisions, poaching, etc.  

How to kayak with manatees in Florida

The most appropriate means to kayak with manatees in Florida is from a distance. Don’t try to interrupt their feeding, movement or behavioral pattern in their environment. You can still see them well while maintaining a reasonable distance.

One of the most preferable areas to kayak with manatees in Florida is the Crystal River, Kings Bay Area on the western rear side of the state, close to Ocala. Around this axis, you can take walks within the borders or paddle across Three Sisters Spring where ample amounts of manatees come together during cold seasons.

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Often, headwaters are shut off. However, people from all over the world are permitted to swim or kayak in the surrounding environment. Weekends are usually busy as a result of diving, kayak tours, as well as other related activities. You should expect murky water and stringent guidelines for the sake of your safety and preservation of the manatees.

Sometimes when new individuals with no prior experience kayak with manatees Florida; they successfully drive them away. So, it is advisable for you to set out in the morning for you to enjoy every bit of kayaking.  

Kayaking vs. Canoeing in Florida

If you have never visited Florida, kayaking is one perfect excuse for a visit. What can beat experiencing water creatures float silently around you? To me, to be considered the best kayaking in Florida, the location should involve a combination of outdoor activities including diving, fishing, snorkeling, etc.  

Kayaking is simply the use of the kayak for movement on the water. Admittedly, a kayak is often mistaken for a canoe. While there may be similarities, there are more than a few differences. Some people like to refer to it as a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat. Well, they are not far from the truth. In a  kayaks, the sitting position of the paddler is designed so that they face frontward. Also, there are sealed areas on board, double-bladed oar, as well as other distinguishing elements.

Kayaks are often categorized by their designs and materials from which they are made. Naturally then, each model has its pros and cons. Therefore, these factors are responsible for performance, paddling style, solidity, and maneuverability.

Anyone who has seen a canoe and a kayak should be able to spot the difference instantly; it is that obvious. Sometimes, the term “canoeing” is used inclusively for both sports even though there are concrete differences.

Classification: While it doesn’t show any difference, this is probably the most significant way to recognize both crafts. Canoes, as well as kayaks, are marked with letters and numbers respectively.  

In the metaphorical sense of it all, canoes are usually seen as the “badass truck,” while kayaks reserve the “sleek sports car” title. This just spells out the difference in their purpose. Kayaks are made for swift and fast sailing and can be used in challenging or rough water conditions.

Gear: You would expect that this should be markedly different as both were designed differently. The gear is, in fact, the most noticeable difference in both. Canoes usually have open-top boats, with space for about two or more people. You either sit on the bench, across opposite beams of the canoe, or you kneel down.

Kayaks are more enclosed than canoes. Seats are fashioned to be lower in the craft, so that you’re sitting on the floor with legs laid out straight or almost straight.

Paddle: Kayaking paddles have two blades, one on each side and appear longer. Canoes, on the other hand, have one blade, and it is much shorter. This means both require different paddling methods.

The double-bladed paddle enables the paddler to adjust and sail with new techniques and allows for a quicker pace.  

We Hope You Have Fun Kayaking in Florida!

The best ways to enjoy kayaking in Florida is by watching a beautiful sunset and moonrise on the coast of your favorite spot. Experience the natural beauty of Florida from diverse perspectives.

Enjoy your ride with friends, tell ghost stories and toast to the stars on a romantic date. All the kayaking gear you need is easily accessible, and accommodations are often close to the best kayaking in Florida.