At last, kayak and paddle boards rentals are available at this South Florida kayaking trail. Whiskey Creek inside John U. Lloyd State Park is lined with mangroves and feels wilder than it is
~In South Florida, where 5.5 million people are squeezed into a 110-mile strip of land between the Everglades and the ocean, it’s not easy to find natural places to hike, bike and kayak.
That makes Whiskey Creek in Dania Beach special: It’s one of the easiest-to-reach places to get out in a canoe or kayak and get your nature fix.
With a little effort, you can imagine you and your kayak are someplace wild, even though the giant cruise ships and cargo vessels of Port Everglades are two blocks away and the sound of jets taking off from nearby Fort Lauderdale International Airport punctures the solitude with regularity.
Whiskey Creek is a narrow, lush tidal waterway lined with mangroves. It parallels the beach and the Intracoastal for about a mile and a half and the only visible signs of man are a few footbridges that provide beach access.
If you bring your own kayak or canoe, you’ll use the boat ramp, right off the Intracoastal, and head east. On your right, before you reach Whiskey Creek, you can take a right turn and explore some mangrove tunnels. (It’s too shallow to do this at low tide.)
As of spring 2015, a concessionaire is back in business at John Lloyd State Park, renting paddleboards, kayaks and snorkeling gear at what is now named Whiskey Creek Hideout.
What I love about kayaking Whiskey Creek is that it is shallow and sandy the whole way, with good visibility for fish and plenty of bird life — on a recent trip, we saw an osprey plus plenty of puffer, needle and other fish. On the return paddle, when we had the wind and tide going against us, I got out of the kayak and walked awhile, easily pulling the boat. Walking Whiskey Creek, I found, literally immersed me in the experience.
At many points along the creek, you can park you kayak, cross the dunes and head over to the beach for a different kind of walk or swim. If you reach the beach this way, chances are you’ll have the sand and surf all to yourself, as the crowds stay near by picnic area.
Whiskey Creek (named for alleged Prohibition-era booze runs) might not warrant a trip from hours away, but it’s the sort of place the soul needs to have in the neighborhood.
Visiting John U. Lloyd State Park
Dania Beach, FL 33004
Admission to John U. Lloyd State Park is $6 per car.
Paddleboards: $25 an hour at Whiskey Creek Hideout
Kayaks: $20 an hour singles; $30 an hour doubles.
The concession, Whiskey Creek Hideout, is open 9 am. to 5 p.m. weekdays and until 6 p.m. weekends. They also sell ice cream, soda and snacks. 954-929-4970.
More things to do at John Lloyd State Park
While you’re visiting John Lloyd State Park, it’s fun to go to the far northern point of the park, which ends at the Port Everglades Inlet. Here, a long breakwater and fishing pier has been rebuilt and it’s a great place to take a walk and enjoy the 360-degree views.
If you’re lucky, you might see a mammoth cruise ship pass by; up close it feels like you’re watching a skyscraper float by. The best time for seeing cruise ships depart is Saturday afternoons starting around 3 or 4 p.m. On some weekends, you can watch as many as a half dozen cruise by with passengers waving and cheering in an hour.
Things to do in Fort Lauderdale area
- Kayaking at West Lake is nearby and also very good.
- The beach at John U. Lloyd State Park is Broward’s best.
- Flamingo Gardens in Davie
- Biking the Hollywood Broadwalk
- Hillsboro Lighthouse in Pompano Beach
- Cap’s Place, a historic waterfront restaurant in Lighthouse Points
- Southport Raw Bar in Fort Lauderdale
- Ten favorite South Florida bike trails
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park preserves a bit of coastal hammock and has a loop road that is popular for walkers, bicyclists and those on roller blades. It also has a lagoon where you can rent canoes and paddle.
- Bonnet House is a hidden jewel. It’s a 90-year-old house museum in an informal tropical plantation style that was a winter home to two wealthy artists. They loved the lush natural vegetation and lagoons, and with wild monkeys and resident swans, this oceanfront estate is a little paradise in a sea of high rises.