This is your first step in planning adventures for the coming cooler weather. We’ve paddled dozens of Florida waterways and here’s our pick for the best places to kayak by region plus a few “unsung” favorites we recommend you discover.
Kayak & Canoe
The Big Bend area of Florida around St. Marks and Wakulla Springs is rich in things to do and see: Kayaking, biking, historic sites, springs, lighthouses. Yet, it is a less visited area off the tourist trail.
Remote, rural and picturesque, northwest Florida rewards your long drive with sparkling springs, the beautiful Suwanee River and scenic rural roads. Two state parks with cabins and campgrounds make great bases to explore the region.
On dark summer nights in the Mosquito Lagoon near Titusville, the water glows from bioluminescent plankton. Kayak tours help visitors see the spectacular light show.
A fascinating kayak destination: Mound Key Archaeological State Park, an uninhabited island accessible only by boat near Fort Myers Beach. The ceremonial center of the Calusa people, Mound Key is one of a kind and is surrounding by waters full of wildlife.
The popular Lower Keys park is perfect for kayak outings. You can kayak around the island or head out to tiny picturesque Little Bahia Honda Island.
The new Silver Springs State Park near Ocala gives kayakers their first chance to launch at the famous springhead and paddle an exquisite waterway that has never been open to kayakers before.
Paddle Florida is a non-profit that organizes a few paddling trips each year on Florida’s greatest waterways. Limited in size and carefully researched, these trips are great for solo paddlers or folks who appreciate a little support in undertaking a several day paddling and camping trip.
The St. Lucie River is not a well-known kayaking destination — and it should be. It’s wild and gorgeous — a jungly forest of old live oaks thick with airplants and Spanish moss. After paddling about two hours, you reach a remote area where you can picnic and take a hike.
This cypress-lined Alafia river has an unusual feature for Florida: Rocky shoals that create fun rapids to kayak. It’s near hiking trails, springs and a very nice paddling trail at Little Manatee River State Park.
Just 45 minute from Tampa/St. Pete, the beautiful river, state park and region is a natural haven that can keep you busy exploring for days. There’s an outfitter to make trip-planning easy, plus it offers cabins and camping.
Vast and remote, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast seems challenging to visit, a labyrinth of twisting channels through thousands of remote mangrove islands.
A very old, very big live oak tree inspired me to stop at this park near the Villages in Central Florida, and I found it to be a nice place to picnic, paddle and take a short hike.