Discover The Best Kayaking Adventures in Florida

Author: Suzanne Lamoutte

If you would’ve told me that I’d fall in love with living in Florida I would’ve laughed at you, LOUDLY!

But it happened, and I could remember the very moment that it happened.

It was the day that I was introduced to kayaking. It quickly became one of my favorite things to do. With 33 first-magnitude springs and between 100-200 second-magnitude springs there’s plenty of adventures to be had and even more beauty to be found that can only be seen when kayaking.

And what I discovered after doing a little research is that there are thousands of miles of paddling destinations in Florida. The cool thing about it is that there are literally all different types of waterways throughout Florida– rivers, ocean, lakes and springs. No two adventures will ever be alike at least not with all the different types of ecosystems and abundant wildlife you’ll get to see – fish, turtles, manatees, foxes, birds, bear, deer, alligators and even monkeys. Yes, I said monkeys.

There’s a place called Silver Springs and according to the locals there’s an island nearby called, Monkey Island.

This past weekend I went kayaking down Rainbow Springs and it was absolutely amazing! The turquoise blue water and a visit from a playful otter made this the best trip thus far. I climbed into the water twice throughout my 4-hour kayaking trip down this spring.

Late July in Florida can be brutal so to cool off I had to get into the 70-degree water. It cooled me down instantly. Then I put on a pair of googles and jumped back in to get up closer to the limestone vegetation on the bottom of the spring.

Nature is so beautiful!

On our way back home from Rainbow Springs, we made a last minute decision to go a little out of the way and to check out the night kayaking tour called, “full moon paddle”, at Santa Fe River.

Oh my, this was the most amazing experience. I’ve never been night kayaking before and if you haven’t either I suggest that you give it a try.

Explore The Only Living Coral Barrier Reef in The United States

The moment I got home I started planning my next kayaking trip to the Florida Keys. There are three places I’ve been eager to check out down there - John Pennekamp Coral Reef Camp, Cedar Key and Bahia Honda State Park.

Each of these will of these will offer different types of experiences.

At John Pennekamp there’s over 70 square miles of adventures and it’s the home of the only living reef coral barrier in the United States and it’s the third largest in the world. You’ll see an abundant amount of vibrantly colored fish in the mangroves and open channels.

Now Cedar Key is beautifully landscaped with islands, saltwater marshes and winding channels. A photographer’s dream come true from what I hear. I’m certain this will be the most peaceful part of my trip.

Bahia Honda State Park may be the spot I’m most excited for. I’m hoping that the wind and current will not be too strong so we can paddle to Little Bahia Honda Island. It’s about a half hour paddle to the island and it’s filled with ancient coral reef rocks and a view of the historic saddleback bridge.

But that’s not all this place has to offer. The blue water is so crystal clear and if the wind isn’t too strong you’ll be able to see everything under the water, from the fish to the coral and maybe even some sharks.

There’s so much to explore here during high tide and low tide. Low tide exposes sandbars and I plan on parking the kayaks and doing some snorkeling.

Here is a list of some other great places to kayak in Florida

Weeki Wachee Springs where you have the potential of spotting a manatee or an otter. There’s miles of crystal clear waters and a great place to go camping. If you plan on going here make sure you check out the underwater performances by “mermaids”.

Juniper Run in Ocala National Forest has narrow and winding waterways and many diverse wildlife. If you enjoy taking landscape pictures don’t forget your camera the dense canopy creates such beauty.

Little Manatee River State Park is perfect for a peaceful and quiet adventure. The swampy area offers great scenery and the many small hiking trails allow you to see wildlife outside of the water.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park has miles of beauty with rock formations and cypress trees. It a paddlers paradise and well known for tubing in the Northern part of Florida. The six miles of shaded crystal-clear water is relaxing, beautiful and scenic.

Hillsborough River State Park in Tampa is perfect for birdwatchers, but there’s more than just birds. There’s a good chance you’ll see an alligator and many other wildlife, so don’t forget your binoculars.

Collier-Seminole State Park in Naples is one of the largest mangrove swamps offering you miles of wildlife and tropical vegetation.

Grayton Beach State Park in Destin is by far one of the most beautiful with its massive dunes and abundant wildlife and endless hours of exploring the backwaters of Western Lake. You may want to give yourself a few days here to explore.

Cayo Costa State Park in Fort Myers is only accessible by boat making it very much like your very own private paradise. With acres of unique vegetation and beautiful beaches makes this barrier island unique and perfect for kayaking.

Myakka River State Park is one of the most diverse natural areas in Florida and the 9-mile black water river offers hours and days of new adventures and beauty. With over 25 different types of animals who call this area home you’re sure to see some wildlife.

Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine offers miles of open waters where it’s very common to see Dolphin and Manatees, and definitely some pelicans. Be sure to stop and take pictures of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. St. Augustine is one of the most historic places filled with such history.

Kayaking is a great way to explore the very diverse ecosystems and wildlife throughout different parts of Florida. You truly have an endless number of trips. Start making your list and begin making memories you’ll never forget.