Best Places to Kayak in Florida

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Best Places to Kayak in Florida

Florida is overflowing with beautiful rivers, swamps, ponds, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean to set afloat your kayak. To maximize your time on the water in the Sunshine State, we share about our best places to kayak in Florida. With a plethora of kayaking opportunities, there is no time to waste. Read about our top five favorite kayaking spots scattered around Florida, then grab your paddles to enjoy them yourself.

Best places to kayak in Florida Best places to kayak in Florida

Turner River

The Turner River is a favorite in the Everglades of Florida. This river is located specifically in the Big Cypress National Forest in southwest Florida. You will enjoy swamplands of cypress trees, tunnels of mangroves, and marshes of sawgrass. The float down the Turner River is nothing short of scenic. This river offers options of continuing to Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades City.

Ten Thousand Islands is chain of islands off Florida’s Gulf Coast. One short kayaking trail, The Sandfly Island Loop, is a gentle five-mile loop which leads to an uninhabited island full of wildlife and history. This kayaking experience is perfect for beginners who do not want to miss out on some incredibly scenic paddling. For expert kayakers, the Wilderness Waterway is a great option with 100 miles to explore. Camping facilities are available along the Wilderness Waterway as well.

We also recommend experiencing Everglades City. This famous swamp is known for incredible wildlife observations. Make sure to stay in your kayak for this option. You would not want to become lunch for one of the many alligators that reside in Everglades City. 

The Imperial River 

Located near Naples, Florida this nine-mile river flows through Bonita Springs, Estero Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern section of this river provides a scenic float past canopies of Pine, Oak, and Cypress trees, which makes for some great kayaking. The Imperial River is known for its brownish tea color, but do not let the color fool you. The river is a beautiful destination with water that is almost transparent when viewed from above. Through the clear water, wildlife such as fish, turtles, and manatees can be spotted. Many visitors rave about their manatee sitings. Winter is the best time to visit to catch a glimpse of the manatees for yourself. The Imperial River is part of a 190-mile system of kayaking and canoe trails for additional exploring while you are in the area. Barefoot Beach is another nearby destination located only ten minutes from Imperial River.

The Suwanee River

When in Florida it is a good idea to visit the iconic Suwanee river, mentioned in the state’s song “Old Folks at Home.” This river made our top list for the options it presents to every level of kayaker. There are stretches of the Suwanee River, such as the Upper Suwanee, that are a moderate to easy paddle, as long as the water levels are not too low. For those more experienced kayakers, this river is one of the few in Florida to include stretches of whitewater or small rapids. The Big and Little Shoals, as well as Ellaville areas of the river primarily include whitewater. Inexperienced paddlers can portage, or travel by land around these areas. Whether you are looking for a day trip to the water, or a three-day kayaking excursion, The Suwanee River is a great destination for you.

Coldwater Creek

Known as the Canoe Capital of Florida, Coldwater Creek is a popular spot for kayakers, and one of the best places to kayak in Florida. Coldwater is overall the fastest flowing creek in the state, at a whopping 3 mph. The creek’s current is ideal for a relaxing float down the river, or intense workout paddling up stream. Pine trees fill the forest surrounding the creek and a add tranquil views as you glide along.

Oleta River

We had to include the Oleta River, due to its stunning beauty and convenient location in Miami. If you are visiting the east shore of Florida or just in Miami for a short time, make sure to check out this river. Tucked in a large mangrove forest in the Oleta River State Park sits the clear waters of the Oleta River. By setting off on the water you will have the opportunity to kayak inlets such as the Haulover Inlet. As you paddle, a white sanded beach welcomes you, presenting the perfect spot for a picnic or hike. The park contains several nature trails to experience the local wildlife of Miami. Visitors sport many types of birds, turtles, and every once in a while, an alligator or manatee. Guided tours as well as kayak rentals are available at the park’s general store.

Float on Florida

With an abundance of kayaking destinations in Florida, it is hard to limit the selection to just five. However, these top five are excellent choices and provide some of the best places to kayak in Florida. From maneuvering over whitewater, finding a metropolitan escape, or gliding next to manatees, these kayaking trails show off the beauty of the Sunshine State.

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