One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during Florida’s long hot summers is to start planning where you’ll go this winter.
For ideas about paddling trips, you can find inspiration from Paddle Florida, whose Florida kayak tours for 2023-24 were announced recently.
Paddle Florida is a non-profit that supports kayaking and canoeing in Florida by organizing reasonably priced multi-day paddling and camping trips on Florida’s greatest rivers and waterways.
The beauty of these Florida kayak tours is that Paddle Florida staff researches the best locations, arranges all the logistics from camping and meals to musical entertainment around the campfire. The group even shuttles your camping gear between campsites each day, allowing you to travel light and always arrive to a dry tent and sleeping bag. Groups are limited to 100 or, in the case of the Suwanee, 200 people. These trips are a great option for solo paddlers.
Participants bring their own boats and tents or arrange to rent them (for an extra charge) from affiliated outfitters.
As you read the trip descriptions, you’ll see that some of these trips are beginner-level paddles; on some paddleboards are welcome; for some only sit-inside kayaks are allowed.
Florida kayak tours for the 2022-23 season
- October 13 – 18, 2023: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Some details from Paddle Florida: The trip follows the scenic Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and begins at Madison Blue Spring State Park. It ends in the town of Branford, after passing many springs ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Here’s a Florida Rambler story on canoe-camping on this Suwanee River Wilderness Trail.
- October 20-24, 2023: Santa Fe Springs Celebration. This 48-mile paddle travels one of Florida’s prettiest rivers with dozens of springs.
- November 12-17, 2023: Fall on the Peace + Fisheating Creek: The trip paddles 50 miles of the Peace River from Fort Meade Recreation Area (between St. Petersburg and Frostproof) to Gardner boat ramp near Arcadia. This is one of the most rural areas of Florida along a river known for its fossils and shark’s teeth. On the last day of the trip, paddlers do an 8-mile run down nearby Fisheating Creek, famous for its pristine scenery and wildlife.
- January 15-21, 2024: Florida Keys Challenge. While Paddle Florida has run trips in the Keys before, this one has a new format, with a basecamp with cabins and daytrips in various locations around the Keys.
- February 11-17, 2024: Mangroves, Manatees & More. This new trip explores the Sebastian River and Indian River Lagoon with a paddling itinerary of 46 to 60 miles, depending on the choices of participants.
- March 13-19, 2024: Springtime on the Chipola This Panhandle trip starts at Florida Caverns State Park. The Chipola River has over 60 freshwater springs, the largest number of any river in Northwest Florida. The Chipola River is a tributary of the Apalachicola River in western Florida.
- April 5-7, 2024 : Suwannee River Paddling Festival. Paddlers camp atop the bluff overlooking two rivers at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak. The weekend will offer supported 8-12 mile paddling options on both the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, a concert featuring Paddle Florida’s favorite musicians, and educational presentations from regional waterway experts.
People who’ve taken these Florida kayak tours before talk about the camaraderie, the convenience and the memorable wilderness experiences.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.