Last article update: October 9th, 2021 (09:48 pm)
There is no shortage of incredible kayaking trails in Florida. Nature lovers will love the lush landscapes and wildlife you can spot during paddling.
Kayaking is a large industry in Fl, you will find many tour operators all across the state.
Here are some of the most beautiful places to go paddling in the state of Florida.
Suwannee River Paddling Trail, North Florida
Ask anyone who has kayaked a few places in Florida, including the Suwannee River Paddling Trail, and they will tell you it’s the most beautiful and fun place in North Florida.
The trail lies between the White Springs and the Gulf of Mexico, dotted with abundant springs, wildlife parks, and historic sites in between. Indeed, there are approximately 200 springs in the region and most lie in the trail.
When the water level is normal, and the current is moderate, it doesn’t take much effort to paddle along, but you’ll face stronger currents in high water levels. It’s common to see shoals of fish pulling over close to your boat during low water level periods. If you have your Florida freshwater license, you can return home with a good catch. Expect a quiet trail full of beautiful scenes and wildlife. The river’s location, far from the noisy city, makes the trail pleasant.
Wakulla River, North Florida
Teaming with beautiful wildlife, including gators, fish, and turtles, the ten-mile stretch between CR 365 Bridge on Wakulla Springs and US 98 Bridge makes for a great kayaking trail. Indeed, the Wakulla Springs are among the deepest and biggest freshwater springs on the planet.
It is a great kayaking spot for amateurs and experienced paddlers. Being a tidal river means you’ll be going against the current quite a bit. Most people choose to paddle on the weekends or warm summer months. The river temperatures remain below 70 Celsius, making it a great escape from the warm Florida temperatures.
You can charter a kayak or bring your own, and you can also bring your dog along but beware of motorboats and gators if you plan to let him/her swim. Tour boats can start inside the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.
Ichetucknee Springs, North Florida
The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is characterized by supreme crystalline clear waters courtesy of the nearby freshwater springs. Indeed, it’s been designated a National Natural Landmark.
The park is open every day of the year for kayaking and canoeing activities. The river is about 6 miles long, with the upper portion lying within the state park and best for kayaking during cooler months.
There are also nature trails that go through a flourishing forest or magnificent sandhill environment characterized by gigantic longleaf pines. This hiking trail is a wildlife haven for softshell turtles, wild turkeys, beavers, and wood ducks. Expect little resistance as you glide downstream.
Blackwater River, Northwest Florida
The tannic summer waters that characterize the Blackwater River make for a fantastic kayaking trail in North-western Florida. Start near the Okaloosa County, where Florida meets Alabama, and end at the Blackwater State Park.
It’s 31-miles of relaxing, breath-taking adventure. The trail is a haven for flora such as water fern, bladderwort, water lily, tupelo, and fauna such as white-tailed deer, turkeys, otters, bobcats. You will also see an array of colorful birds such as red-headed woodpeckers, hawks, Mississippi kites, and warblers.
You won’t see any gators, though, because of the cool temperatures and the river’s sandy bottom. Anyway, expect an exciting adventure; the river flows 2-3 miles/hour, so the current is swift. The park offers restrooms, outdoor showers, and large pavilions.
Juniper Run, Central Florida
Enjoy the crystalline waters and the cool fresh air as you paddle through the Ocala National Forest along the Juniper Run.
This waterway is among the top 25 places to paddle in the US. It’s a whole 7-miles of pure adventure. Expect to see diverse fauna in the Ocala National Forest. You will also see lush rows of palm trees and cypress as you glide through the slim and meandering river.
However, the difficulty level is high because of strong currents and submerged logs combined with the meandering and twisting around vegetation and trees. It can take about 5 hours to complete. Also, bring your inflatable kayak because there are no local outfitters.
The Beaches of Destin, Northwest Florida
Florida’s coastal area gets its Emerald Coast nickname from the turquoise waters, white sands colorful array of fauna that populates Destin Beaches. For a full experience of these pretty beaches, go on a kayak trip from Destin Harbour to Crab Island.
You can rent a boat from local outfitters or bring yours. Dustin harbor is always busy with boat rental companies, restaurants, and curio shops.
Some of the wildlife you’ll see as you cruise through the island include dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles. You will also have to deal with a lot of boats and powerful currents. At the end of the cruise, congregate on the island for food, drinks, and music with the locals!
Coastal Dune Lakes, Northwest Florida
There are many freshwater lakes alongside the ocean in Florida, but the 15 coastal dunes on the Northwest side are the best for kayaking in tannic brown waters surrounded by dunes.
Snuggled among sea-grass-covered dunes beyond the Gulf of Mexico, the 15 lakes extend over 42km of coastline from the Topsail Hill Preserve to Rosemary Beach State Park.
The trail is totally navigable by kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or canoe. Each of the coastal dune lakes differs in size, but they are all very easy to paddle, even for beginners. Expect diverse wildlife, fantastic scenery, and calm waters, but you can’t bring your dog along!
Pellicer Creek, Northeast Florida
The Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve is an undisturbed salt marsh drained by small branches and creeks, flowing into the nearby Matanzas and Pellicer Flats.
This pristine estuarine system has a rich history, and the estate boasts having the county’s oldest lodge and the first in-ground swimming pool.
The Pellicer kayaking trail starts from the Princes Place Preserve to the US 1 adjacent to the Palm Coast. It’s a 6-mile long trip that’s very easy to paddle, expect gentle currents, with lots of picnic areas and wildlife such as deer, bobcats, and otters.
Remember to bring sunscreen!
Winter Park Chain, Central Florida
The Winter Park Chain of Lakes in Florida boasts 6 freshwater lakes that promise an unforgettable kayaking experience. Bring your camera along because there’s plenty of the city’s architectural history to capture as you paddle through the sophisticated canals. Wildlife in the kayaking trail; includes herons, turtles, and ospreys. It’s also commonplace to see a shoal of fish as they swim around searching for food in the lakes.
Expect a relaxing, breath-taking experience. The canal is well shaded, preventing wind and sweltering heat. This kayaking trail is very easy, even for beginners. Start at Dinky Dock Winter Park or Fort Maitland Park because you’ll find good parking spots.
Indian River Lagoon, Central Florida
The Indian River Lagoon in Central Florida is best for kayaking during the dark so that you can capture photos in the bioluminescent waters because of glowing algae.
Start at Haulover Cabal, Titusville, and remember to bring bug spray, sea footwear, towel, etc. You will pass Mullet Head Island and see the federally protected Rookery. You will also see different types of birds, including Anhinga, Ibis, and Herons, and depending on the wind direction, you can hear them sing. Other common wildlife on the island includes Bottlenose Dolphin, manatee, gators, and even sharks!
Little Talbot Island State Park, Northeast Florida
The waterways between Little Talbot Island State Park and Amelia island on Northeast Florida boast of tidal creeks, and salt marshes are a favorite among paddlers.
This spot offers plenty of route options that boast diverse wildlife, including rare birds. It’s a great kayaking spot for both beginners and experts. Depending on the wind and tides, the journey can be challenging or easy. In any case, it’s a fun way to explore the water channels around Little Talbot and Amelia Island.
Indian Key, Florida Keys
If you’re looking for a private kayaking spot that’s also easy to access, the Indian Key Historic State Park won’t disappoint. This uninhabited island off the Overseas Highway is easily accessible from Islamorada and only 20 minutes away via kayak.
It offers plenty of marine wildlife sightings. Kayakers also come here to explore the ruins of Ghost Town, where the remains of a lost village from the 1800s rest. It’s also a great sunbathing spot or just a place to enjoy the emerald waters. Expect to grass flat mash of low water. Depending on the wind and heat, it can be a tough 30-minute trip!
Weeki Wachee, Central Florida
It wouldn’t be a complete list without including the Weeki Wachee. A trip down the Weeki Wachee blue waters is effortless as the current is friendly and helps paddle the boat greatly. The Weeki Wachee trail boasts of the biggest freshwater cave system in the country. Also, the river is surrounded by streams from nearby floodplain forests and boasts of blue sapphire waters.
Enjoy wildlife sightings, including herons, gators, raccoons, manatees, otters, and ibis, and visit the nearby state park for mermaid shows. This trail offers various paddling routes for both beginners and experts. If you want it easy, start at Weeki Wachee Springs and paddle to Rogers Park. If you want it hard, take the Bayport route to Rogers Park. In all cases, pets are not allowed. Remember to bring a lot of sunscreens!
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about paddling in Florida.
If you know of any other great kayaking locations or have a kayaking tour business you would like featured here, please leave a comment below.