Skip to Content

Best kayaking in Florida: Our 17 favorite kayak spots

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 kayaking in Florida Keys

Favorite kayak spot: 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

Worth discovering: The kayak trail at Curry Hammock State Park. This might be the ideal kayak experience for many Keys visitors. It is an especially good place to rent a paddleboard because with the shallow clear water, you’ll have the best vantage point to appreciate the sea life underwater. You’ll need about two hours and kayak and paddleboard rentals are cheap and easy from the ranger station. The water is shallow and sparkling clear, perfect for admiring thousands of upside down jelly fish (Cassiopeia) that look like they could be dubbed Florida snowflakes. More about Curry Hammock State Park.

The kayak dock. It's an easy paddle to Indian Key State Park, one of my favorite kayaking trails in Florida.. (
It’s an easy paddle to Indian Key State Park, one of my favorite kayaking trails in Florida.. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More places to kayak in the Florida Keys:

12 great kayak outings in the Florida Keys

Kayaking Marathon: Boot Key has beautiful mangrove tunnels and lagoons

36 hours in Key Largo: Gilbert’s Resort and kayaking the wreck at Garden Cove

Destination Key Largo: Pennekamp State Park

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

Best kayaking in Southeast Florida

Favorite kayak spot: Loxahatchee River in Jupiter. One of only two federally designation Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Loxahatchee’s scenery is exquisite. Paddlers can take short out-and-back trips of two to three hours or arrange for a shuttle and kayak a more demanding 8.3 mile trip downstream. The latter may require several portages over fallen trees and is for adventurers in good shape. Loxahatchee River in Jupiter: Kayak a wild, scenic river in South Florida

Terrific but only for a limited season: 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, which is generally during the hot, buggy rainy season and during only a few weeks in the fall and early winter. 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

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.
Best kayaking in Florida: 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

Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound: A Florida treasure

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

Mizell Johnson State Park (formerly Lloyd State Park) in Dania Beach

Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach: Window on the Everglades

Best kayaking 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 (Note: Water levels are critical here, so make sure the water isn’t too high or too low.)

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

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

More places to kayak in the Everglades:

Fakahatchee Strand: Big, wild and great for Everglades hiking and kayaking

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

Everglades kayak trail: It’s called Hell’s Bay for a reason

More Everglades kayak trails: A roundup from Florida Rambler.

Best kayaking along Florida’s Gulf Coast

Favorite: Myakka River. This big state park offers a memorable and beautiful kayak trail, full of wildlife. At some points, big old live oaks draped with Spanish moss line the shores. At others, your view is of broad grassy marshes. We passed uncountable gators and many were among the largest alligators I have ever seen. There was no manmade presence visible and no sounds except nature. Full story: Kayaking on Myakka River at Mayakka River State Park

Worth discovering: Caladesi Island State Park. Off the coast of Clearwater and Dunedin, it 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

Caladesi Island State Park
Best kayaking in Florida: 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 (OK)

Kayaking from Cabbage Key in Pine Island Sound

Shell Creek: Near Punta Gorda, the prettiest kayak trail you’ve never heard of (OK)

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

Telegraph Creek: Worth discovering along the Caloosahatchee 

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

Sarasota’s Lido Key Mangrove Trail: Paddling with cormorants, wildlife (OK)

Northport: Kayaking Deer Prairie Creek for hours of paddle heaven

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 (OK)

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

Five favorite places to paddleboard in Tampa Bay area (OK)

Canoeing close to a Suwanee bluff. The Suwanee offers some of the best kayaking in Florida.
Best kayaking in Florida: Limestone bluffs along the Suwannee River (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Best kayaking in Central Florida

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

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

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, which offers some of the best kayaking in Florida
Best kayaking in Florida: Six turtles at Silver Springs River. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More places to kayak in Central Florida

Note: Some facilities are still closed from Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Please confirm in advance.

The Econlockhatchee near Sanford: Unspoiled and easy to reach

Juniper Springs in Ocala Forest: Fab kayaking at pristine spring run

Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest: Easy scenic paddling; lots of wildlife

Kayaking Blue Cypress Lake: Exceptional scenery, so many ospreys, near Yeehaw Junction

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

Hontoon Island near DeLand: Camping, cabins, great kayak trip in wild setting (cosed as of 1/15/23)

Turkey Creek in Palm Bay combines kayaking and hiking

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

Beautiful park, fabulous paddle, shady campground: Rock Springs Run and Kelly Park

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

The Withlacoochee River: 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

My favorite spot along the Santa Fe River was this small unnamed spring near Rum Island (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Best kayaking in Florida: My favorite spot along the Santa Fe River was this small unnamed spring near Rum Island (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Best kayaking in Northeast Florida

Favorite: Santa Fe River near High Springs. The Santa Fe River near Gainesville is a treasure for its many clear bubbling springs and its unspoiled beauty. It’s one of Florida’s most beautiful places to kayak, canoe, snorkel and swim. It’s way north, but worth making part of a trip. Kayaking Santa Fe River

Unsung but worth discovering: 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

Exploring the St. Johns River by kayak from Welaka

Paddling New Smyrna waterways

Best kayaking in Northwest Florida

The Suwanee River will reward you with tranquility and beauty
Best kayaking in Florida: The Suwannee River will reward you with tranquility and beauty. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Favorite: Suwannee River. If you think all there is to the Suwannee 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: Suwannee River: Skip the song; but go for kayaking & camping. Also: Suwannee is one of the best canoe-camping rivers in the country. Full story: Suwannee, one of Florida’s most beautiful rivers, offers comfy screened camping on platforms

Worth discovering: Ichetucknee River in winter. The Ichetucknee is the most pristine spring run in the state. It has eight major springs, crystalline water, lush jungly vegetation plus plentiful birds and wildlife.  Full story: Ichetucknee: One of Florida’s most beautiful rivers 

Worth discovering: Kayaking to Atsena Otie from Cedar Key. Atsena Otie island is even older than historic Cedar Key. It’s a half-mile kayak from the town beach. You are rewarded with a sandy beach and an atmosperic historic cemetery to explore. Full story: Atsena Otie: Cedar Key’s easy, fun & scenic kayak trip to an island

More places to kayak in Northwest Florida

Rainbow River: Pure spring water makes kayaking, tubing tops

Springs & the Suwannee: Two northwest Florida parks are great bases for exploring

Crystal River manatees: How to see, kayak or swim with manatees

Milton is a top kayaking town and the sand-bottom Blackwater River is a big part of the reason. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Best kayaking in Florida: Milton is a top kayaking town and the sand-bottom Blackwater River is a big part of the reason. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Best kayaking in the Panhandle

Favorite: Blackwater Creek near Milton: Blackwater River is known as the only pristine white sand bottom river in the United States. This river passes through the wild and natural lands of Blackwater State Forest all the way from the Alabama state line. There are no homes or docks on the river. The current is two to three miles per hour and the water is shallow, making it one of the easiest paddling trips you can take. Blackwater River is a series of big S curves. At every curve, there’s a sandbar – a magical spot ideal for wading, swimming, building sand castles and having picnics. In summer, the Blackwater River is a very popular tubing river. Read more at our story on kayaking near Milton

Worth discovering: Coldwater Creek: One of the most popular tubing and paddling rivers in the Milton area, Coldwater Creek is a swift, cold, clear stream through a beautiful quiet forest, with only a few cottages and docks along its banks. Coldwater Creek’s water is tannic orange and the bottom is largely white sand. The spring-fed river is 80 degrees year around, which means alligators don’t like it, but folks who want to cool down with tube ride in summer sure do. Read more at our story on kayaking near Milton

More places to kayak in the Panhandle

Grayton Beach: Camp, kayak and bike at one of America’s top beaches

Wakulla & St. Marks: Out of the way, this Big Bend area is full of discoveries

Note: There are some good paddling suggestions in our comments section for more Panhandle rivers that I haven’t explored. The Panhandle has some of the best kayaking in the state, unfortunately far from my home in Fort Lauderdale.

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

All articles on are original, produced exclusively for our readers and protected by U.S. Copyright law. Any use or re-publication without written permission is against the law. Read more:

This page contains affiliate links from which Florida Rambler may earn a small commission if a purchase is made. This revenue supports our mission to produce quality stories about the authentic Florida destinations at no cost to our readers.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Mahler Walter

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

Gamble Rodgers State park has kayak rentals and offers guided tours of the estuary across from the park. They tours are popular and reservations are recommended.

Lacey A Dickson

Sunday 27th of February 2022

This article was so helpful in planning our vacation, thank you! And particularly thanks for the note to refer to the comments about more spots in the panhandle region.

Bob Rountree

Sunday 27th of February 2022

You're welcome! Thank you for visiting. :-)

Mahler, Walter

Monday 29th of November 2021

Gamble Rodgers has monthly 2 hour guided marsh tours that educates participants about the importance of estuaries and what flora and fauna exists in a healthy one.

divid willey

Monday 22nd of June 2020

What was the opinions or guidelines about the canoe which consists of 3 person canoe and good for fishing.


Monday 2nd of March 2020

You left our Favorite spot out, Glass Bottom Rentals, on Boca Grande! Amazing blue water, and clear kayaks! Such a great trip!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.