Kayak & Canoe

Our favorite canoe and kayak trails: Best kayaking spots in Florida

Florida’s best kayaking trails range from paddling through saltwater and mangrove tunnels to kayak trails where you paddle through forests of cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. Many of our favorite Florida kayak trails involve a destination: Our list includes kayak trips to islands that are now ghost towns.

Here’s a guide to our favorite kayaking trails for each region. For each area, we’ve picked one kayak trail that is less well-known but definitely worth discovering.

Best kayak trails in Florida Keys

Favorite:  Indian Key off Islamorada.  If you’ve ever dreamed about exploring a deserted tropical island, here’s your chance: Take your kayak down to the Florida Keys and paddle out to Indian Key State Park. Here, you explore jungly ruins and snorkel along a rocky shoreline. Full story:  Indian Key: Kayak to Florida Keys history — and snorkel too

Unsung but worth discovering: We’re not designating a single spot here, because there are hundreds of places to launch a kayak, a canoe or a paddle board in the Florida Keys. We’ve picked a  dozen to suggest here, all worth discovering. Full story: 12 great kayak outings in the Florida Keys

Kayaking to Indian Key in the Florida Keys

Kayaking to Indian Key in the Florida Keys. (Photo: David Blasco for Florida Rambler.)

 

More places to kayak in the Florida Keys:

Destination Key Largo: Pennekamp State Park

Long Key State Park: Beach camping in the Florida Keys plus paddling

Camping in the Middle Keys: Curry Hammock State Park

 

 

 

Best kayak trails in Southeast Florida

Favorite: Fisheating Creek in Palmdale. This gorgeous, wild, winding river is well-known in Florida, but can only be paddled when water levels are high enough. This river through a pristine cypress forest belongs on the bucket list of those who love the Florida outdoors. Full  story: Legendary Fisheating Creek : Kayak trail lives up to hype, but timing is everything

Unsung but worth discovering:  The St. Lucie River in Stuart is not a well-known kayaking destination — and it should be. It’s wild and gorgeous  — a forest of old live oaks thick with airplants and Spanish moss. There are a few small islands that inspire the imagination and, after paddling about two hours, you reach a remote area where you can picnic and take a hike reachable only by boat. Full story: St. Lucie River: Beautiful kayak trail deserves discovery

The dark tea-colored water was a mirror for the cypress forest along Fisheating Creek.

The dark tea-colored water was a mirror for the cypress forest along Fisheating Creek. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

 

 

More places to kayak in the Southeast Florida

Kayak trail to a hidden beach: St. Lucie Inlet Preserve in Stuart

Peanut Island in Riviera Beach: Snorkeling, historic Kennedy Bunker, even camping

Sebastian Inlet in Melbourne Beach: Getaway for camping, paddle sports, wildlife

Kayaking West Lake in Hollywood Beach: A little bit of nature hiding in Broward

Kayaking Virginia Key: Miami skyline views plus surprising natural splendor

Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound: A Florida treasure

Boca Raton: Urban Paddle: Back yards of the 1%

MacArthur State Park in North Palm Beach: Kayak trail to Munyon Island for beaches, mangrove tunnels

Oleta River State Park offers respite from Miami’s urban bustle

John Lloyd State Park in Dania Beach

Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach: Window on the Everglades

Loxahatchee River in Jupiter: Kayak a wild, scenic river in South Florida

Roughing it: St. Sebastian River Preserve in Fellsmere

Best kayak trails in Florida Everglades

Favorite: Turner River. I’ve paddled a lot of trails in the Everglades, but so far, the Turner River is my favorite. It goes from pristine cypress swamp, through mangrove tunnels to sawgrass marsh, and  it teems with birds, gators and fish. It’s everything the Everglades can offer in one trip. Full story: Turner River kayak trail: The best in the Everglades

Unsung but worth discovering:  Sandfly Key.  You can explore the wilderness of the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s Gulf Coast with this short kayak trail to an uninhabited island full of history. It’s the perfect “starter” kayak trail for an area full of paddling possibilities.  Full story: Ten Thousand Islands: Sandfly Island is perfect ‘intro’ kayak trail

Turner River Kayak Trail, Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge.

Turner River Kayak Trail, Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More places to kayak in the Everglades:

Everglades kayak trail: Halfway Creek off Tamiami Trail is all about the plants

Canoe or kayak Everglades National Park: Coot Bay and Mud Lake trail

Ten Thousand Islands: Ride the tide through Indian Key Pass

Everglades canoe trail: Exploring Nine Mile Pond

More Everglades kayak trails: A roundup from Florida Rambler.

Best kayak trails along Florida’s Gulf Coast

Favorite:  Caladesi Island State Park, off the coast of Clearwater and Dunedin, has been called the best beach in America. What’s even better? Kayaking to Caladesi and seeing wonderful wildlife along the way. Full story:  Caladesi Island: Kayak to a wild beach

Unsung but worth discovering: Shell Creek in Punta Gorda. This little creek should be better known. Its magnificent tree canopy and unspoiled Old Florida feel offer kayakers great natural beauty and wildlife, all in an easy, accessible day paddle. Full story: Shell Creek: The prettiest kayak trail you’ve never heard of

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park on St. Joseph Sound. (Photo: David Blasco for Florida Rambler.)


More places to kayak along Florida’s Gulf Coast

Manatee Park & the Orange River: Fort Myers kayak trail ideal for winter day

Matlacha Pass Preserve: An artsy town is gateway to nature-filled paddling trails

Telegraph Creek: Worth discovering and not just for the llamas

The Chaz in Homosassa: Springs & wildlife make this river a special kayak trail

Best camping near Sarasota: Camp Venice

Cayo Costa island: A remote, romantic getaway that is wild Florida at its best

Mound Key in Fort Myers Beach: Take Calusa Blueway to archaeological island

Port Charlotte sea kayaking: White pelicans & mangrove mazes

Imperial River: Nice kayak trail through old Bonita Springs

Collier-Seminole Park in Naples: Kayak trail, camping near Naples

Kayak Sanibel, Captiva: Where to go to enjoy wildlife & beauty

Koreshan State Park in Estero preserves wacky Florida history

Peace River in Arcadia: Florida canoe trip is an easy adventure

Camping and kayaking near Tampa Bay: Fort Desoto

 

Best kayak trails in Central Florida

Favorite:  Silver River in Ocala. If you haven’t experienced Florida’s most famous spring, you’re missing one of the most beautiful kayak trails in Florida. The pristine scenery and wildlife are outstanding. Full story: Silver Springs State Park has much to like: Kayaking, cabins, hiking, history

Unsung but worth discovering:  Blackwater Creek near Eustis, a little-known river near Orlando, has over-the-top scenery where it flows out of Lake Norris. It’s an easy paddle worth seeking out for its great beauty. You can even arrange for free canoes. Full story: Kayaking Blackwater Creek & Lake Norris in Eustis: Splendid waterways to discover

Unsung but worth discovering: Arbuckle Creek in Avon Park. We couldn’t name just one great unsung kayaking spot in Central Florida, so here’s a second.  Arbuckle Creek is a gorgeous river through an ancient cypress forest. It feels remote and wild but is convenient to Orlando and South Florida. It’s a gem, full of wildlife and magnificent scenery. Full story:  Kayaking Arbuckle Creek in Avon Park: Unexpected beauty at a bombing range

Six turtles at Silver Springs River

Six turtles at Silver Springs River. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More places to kayak in Central Florida

De Leon Springs: State park known for pancakes has much more

Hontoon Island near DeLand: Camping, cabins, great kayak trip in wild setting

Turkey Creek in Palm Bay combines kayaking and hiking

Ocklawaha River in Fort McCoy: Kayak or canoe a river that was saved

Cool Camping Near Orlando: Kelly Park/Rock Spring

Blue Spring State Park in Orange City: Manatees in winter; swimming & tubing in summer

The Withlacoochee River in Nobleton: One of Florida’s most scenic kayak trails

Weeki Wachee Springs: Kayaking, manatees and mermaids

Spruce Creek near New Smyrna Beach: A diamond in the rough

 

Best kayak trails in Northeast Florida

Favorite: Pellicer Creek in St. Augustine. Full of birds and other wildlife, the waterways in Faver Dykes State Park offer many options for exploring by kayak through wild and beautiful land. Full story:  Florida ‘low country’ found at Faver-Dykes State Park

More places to kayak in Northeast Florida

Bulow Plantation Ruins: 5 minutes off I-95 for romantic ruins, picnic & paddle

Tomoka State Park: Gateway to the Ormond Scenic Loop

 

Best kayak trails in Northwest Florida

The Suwanee River will reward you with tranquility and beauty

The Suwanee River will reward you with tranquility and beauty. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Favorite: Suwanee River. If you think all there is to the Suwanee River is an old song with problematic lyrics, you’re missing out on one of Florida’s greatest kayaking, canoeing and camping rivers. Full story: Suwanee River: Skip the song; but go for kayaking & camping

Unsung but worth discovering: Cedar Key.  The Gulf Coast here is wild and undeveloped. From Cedar Key, you can kayak to several islands, including Atsena Otie Key, which was home to the original town built in the Cedar Keys.  Full story: Cedar Key: Charming, historic, off the beaten track

Cool idea: Florida’s best river for tubing, the Ichetucknee in High Springs

 

Did we miss your favorite? Please add suggestions in our comment field below.

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8 Comments

  1. Megan E Kilgore says:

    Hi! Love your site, its always a go-to for planning out new kayaking trips .. I currently live in Delray and feel its worth mentioning there IS more to see in the deerfield/ Boca/ Delray area other than people houses :-P. I’ve launched out of a few places in Boca and kayaking by Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is aaaaamazing. In one short 2 hour trip up and down the intracoastal we saw about 15 sea turtles, a few rays, several horseshoe crabs, and plenty of other birds & fish. The issue with exploring this area is the launch spots, lots are in parks that meet capacity fast on weekeends or are closed.. and during the week they close just a little too early for an after work paddle.

    • Bonnie Gross says:

      Thank you, Megan. As you can read on our site, both folks behind Rambler — Bob Rountree and me, Bonnie Gross — live in South Florida so we are ALWAYS looking for good places to paddle nearby! It’s a struggle to find good places to paddle, bicycle and hike in an urban area that has so paved over nature.

      Bob is quite familiar with this area of the Intracoastal Waterway, though, and he urges caution.

      Bob says on a quiet morning during the week, it could be a fun paddle if you can launch from Silver Palm Park on Palmetto Park Road. Parking is limited and often packed with boat trailers. Even if you can launch there, be careful of strong currents when paddling under the Palmetto Park Bridge to Lake Wyman.

      Other than Silver Palm Park, there is no access for several miles: Deerfield Beach’s Pioneer Park or Knowles Park in Delray Beach are the closest ramps.

      While Lake Wyman itself is a no-wake zone, the Intracoastal Waterway north of there to Spanish River Park is not. On weekends and late afternoons, it is overrun by jet skis and speedboats churning cross wakes and currents, making it treacherous for kayakers.

      We agree, this small section is scenic. I just wish there was better access with a no-wake zone extending north to Spanish River Boulevard.

  2. Thanks for the incredible article. Will be visiting soon 😉

  3. Kyle Wright says:

    Waccissa River, Slave Canal to the Aucilla River, Steinhatchee River, St. Marks River Area and any where along the Gulf Coast from Clear Key to Appalacicola make great day trips and weekend tripsychological. Great fishing aND paddling trails.

  4. I didn’t see anything mentioned for Northwest Florida and we have some amazing waterways here as well.

  5. You’ve nailed some of the best places in our two books, “Paddles in Paradise” and “More Paddles in Paradise”; especially some of our hidden gems like Shell Creek and Arbuckle Creek.
    Juniper Run in Silver Springs is a must do if you haven’t tried it yet.
    Good job!

  6. Melissa Stinson says:

    The Wacissa River in Jefferson county and the Chipola River in Jackson county are two of my favorites.

    • Thank you, Melissa. I need to get back to the Panhandle and Northwest Florida, because I KNOW there is terrific paddling there. (I’ve paddled the Blackwater River, but it was before we started Florida Rambler, so until we return, it’s a bit of a gap.)

      Your comments, though, will be helpful to us and others!

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