Canaveral National Seashore is quiet and peaceful with bountiful wildlife, and you can always find your place in the sand.
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.
This state park fits my definition of a hidden paradise: A scenic kayak trail on a wild island that ends at a spectacular hidden beach you’ll have all to yourself. This little-known state park is accessible only by boat.
This out-of-the-way destination reminds us of artsy waterfront towns like Key West and Cedar Key. West of Fort Myers, Matlacha is a colorful collection of little wooden houses surrounded by good saltwater-kayak trails. Artists love this funky little village.
This Miami state park is a remarkable island of green where you can kayak, mountain bike, picnic and enjoy a sandy beach. There are even rustic cabins to rent. Now, the historic Blue Marlin Fish House, located on park property on 163rd Street, has re-opened and rents SUPs and kayaks on the Oleta River as well as offering sandwiches, salads and beer.
Rainbow Springs and the Rainbow River are among Florida’s top tubing and kayaking spots. People love this waterway because of the pure, clear water and the spectacular natural setting. In winter, it’s a peaceful place to kayak and perhaps see otters and birds. In summer, it’s full of tubes doing a four-hour float through a cool paradise.
The Lido Key Mangrove Trail is a well-known scenic kayak trail in Sarasota. In addition to friendly cormorants and shaded mangrove tunnels, this trail is popular in summer because there is a sandbar where you can swim.
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.
If you haven’t experienced Florida’s most famous spring, you’re missing one of the most beautiful spots in Florida. This weekend, Ocali Country Days, a special living-history festival, will re-create the Ocala of the 1800s. Year-round, this park has it all: kayaking, hiking, glass-bottom boat rides, horseback riding and terrific cabins.
This state park has superior cabins and is a great base for kayaking the Suwannee and hiking. It’s also home to an oddly dated museum on Stephen Foster. (We considered it a funky Florida find.)