Best Places to Kayak in Florida – Top 14 Places

There are many choice spots in the Sunshine State that are best seen and experienced through a kayak. In this article, I’ll list the 14 best places to kayak in Florida, including the details for each place.

You can go river kayaking and let Florida’s gentle river currents take you to places you haven’t seen before. Or you can go kayak off the coast and see Florida’s fabulous beaches and its beautiful barrier islands. You can even go urban kayaking in the confines of the city.

So what are the best places to kayak in Florida? Our top 14 picks for the best Florida kayaking spots are as follows:

  1. Suwannee River Paddling Trail, North Florida
  2. Wakulla River, North Florida
  3. Blackwater River, Northwest Florida
  4. The Beaches of Destin, Northwest Florida
  5. Coastal Dune Lakes, Northwest Florida
  6. Pellicer Creek, Northeast Florida
  7. Little Talbot Island State Park, Northeast Florida
  8. Tomoka River, Tomoka State Park, Northeast Florida
  9. Indian Key, South Florida
  10. The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, South Florida
  11. Oleta River State Park, South Florida
  12. Silver Springs State Park, Central Florida
  13. Weeki Wachee, Central Florida
  14. Indian River Lagoon, Central Florida

Read on to learn more about the 14 best places to kayak in Florida, including the features for each place.

14 Best Places to Kayak in Florida

Florida is indeed a paddler’s paradise. The pristine waters and diverse ecosystems are things that you need to see and experience. While on your kayak, you can expect to see lush landscapes and abundant wildlife as you glide through miles of unspoiled beauty in these Instagram-worthy and special tourist spots.

1. Suwannee River Paddling Trail, North Florida

The majority of kayakers who have gone through the Suwanne River paddling trails believe that it is the most scenic and enjoyable region in North Florida. The trail begins in White Springs and ends at the Gulf of Mexico. There is an abundance of springs, historic sites, and wildlife parks on this trail.

When water is at its normal level in this river, the current is moderate, requiring easy paddling. However, the current gets stronger in high water levels. It will excite kayakers who are not afraid to take risks. During low water periods, shoals may need a pull-over, although not as problematic as you may think.

There’s an abundance of wildlife in the trail, as well as plenty of fish to catch. You need to carry your FL freshwater license, though, as it is required. So far, there are about 200 springs discovered here, and most of them are in this trail.

The river is far from the city noise and its bustling and sometimes confusing activities. Paddling on this trail can range from easy to very difficult. The difficulty level depends on the water conditions and what part of the river you are paddling.

2. Wakulla River, North Florida

The Wakulla River Paddling Trail is a 10-mile stretch that originates from the Wakula Springs. These springs are one of the biggest and deepest freshwater springs on earth. On the trail, you can expect an effortless and gentle glide down a clear waterway.

Along the way is abundant wildlife, including turtles, manatees, alligators, wading birds, and all kinds of freshwater fish. The first three miles inside Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park are reserved for tour boats.

The designated paddling trail starts immediately below the State Park, specifically the CR 365 Bridge, and ends up after the US 98 bridges. Guided tours are also available here.

best kayaking spots in florida

3. Blackwater River, Northwest Florida

During the summer months, Blackwater River’s tannic water attracts all kinds of paddlers as well as tubers. The current of the river is swift–exactly what is needed for an exciting kayaking adventure.

Blackwater River has a total distance of 56 miles, 31 of which are designated as paddling trails. The paddling trails start five miles from the border in Okaloosa County in the Alabama border and end at the Blackwater River State Forest. This site offers a lot of paddling options, and you can choose the length and type of paddling experience that you want.

4. The Beaches of Destin, Northwest Florida

If you want to understand how the Emerald Coast got its name, go on a kayak trip off Destin’s beaches with its white sand and turquoise waters. It is where you can get an amazing visual experience of Florida’s wildlife, from manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and many more.

You may want to start paddling at the Dustin Harbor, which is bustling with boat rental outfitters, curio shops, and restaurants and go to Crab Island just nearby. Expect to see a lot of people and boats as you paddle along the coast. Watch the tides as well. You don’t want to left floating around in the middle of nowhere.

5. Coastal Dune Lakes, Northwest Florida

There is one unique attraction in Florida that can be found in just a few places on earth. This place is called coastal dune lakes, which are freshwater lakes located alongside the ocean. There are several of these in Florida.

Fifteen of these coastal dune lakes are in Walton County. As you paddle on these lakes, you will see diverse wildlife, serene waters, and fantastic scenery. This kayaking hot spot lets you enjoy paddling tea-colored tannic waters amidst sand dunes. You can also see just on the other side the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Powell is the largest of these coastal dune lakes.

6. Pellicer Creek, Northeast Florida

What the Pellicer Creek offers to kayakers is undisturbed salt marsh. It is one of the most pristine riverine/estuarine systems along the northeast coast of Florida. The trail starts from the Pellicer Creek, south of St. Augustine, and flows approximately six miles, starting from west of I-95, going to the Matanza River. There are 3.5 miles of designated paddling trail in Pellicer Creek.

7. Little Talbot Island State Park, Northeast Florida

Next on our list of the best places to kayak in Florida is Little Tablot Island State Park. There are salt marshes and tidal creeks in Little Talbot Island that paddlers will love to see and experience. If you want to enjoy a peaceful morning or afternoon on the water, this is where you need to go.

This kayaking spot offers route options to both experienced and beginning kayakers. The barrier island is one of the special spots here in Florida. It is home to different kinds of wildlife and a place where you can spend your time watching rare birds.

8. Tomoka River, Tomoka State Park, Northeast Florida

Another popular spot among kayakers is the Tomoka River Paddling Trail. It is approximately 13 miles long and starts north from SR40, going to the Tomoka Basin (Halifax River). This paddling trail goes through an urban area. Though the trail runs in the middle of the city, it still has a remote feel.

This trail has two launches, one at the Tomoka Estates in Ormond Beach and the other at Tomoka State Park. The trail is narrow and shaded, going upstream. It becomes wider with coastal marsh as it nears the Halifax River. Off the Tomoka River is an estuary that branches to Strickland Creek, where there is an estimated 1 mile of more paddling trails.

9. Indian Key, South Florida

Indian Key Historic State Park is an excellent kayaking spot in the Florida Keys. This spot is the best in terms of its ease of access and seclusion or privacy. This island can be reached by boat from Islamorada. But if you use a kayak, you will be able to reach the island in just 20 minutes.

This island was once the resting place of a shipwreck-salvaging company. Today, it is a favorite among kayakers who go there to sunbathe, explore its clear waters, and hike. You can see lots of marine wildlife in the waters near this island. They include manatees, dolphins, eagle rays, and many more.

great kayaking places in florida

10. The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, South Florida

Next on our list of the best place places to kayak in Florida is the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. It is a 190-mile paddling trail regarded as a paddler’s paradise because of its unique features.

This area has secluded beaches, tidal creeks, mangrove islands and tunnels, and protected estuaries. Your kayaking experience in this trail can be short or long, depending on what you prefer.

In this trail, you will start paddling near Fort Myers. Your paddling will take you to Estero Bay, where you will find different spots like Mound Key, Hurricane Bay, Bunche Beach, and Coconut Point. Next, you will head on to Pine Island Sound, where you will see several attractions like Picnic Island, Matlacha, and Tarpon Bay. And then, you can paddle on to Caloosahatchee River.

11. Oleta River State Park, South Florida

It is another paddling trail that will take you to the middle of an urban area. The Oleta River State Park is located on Biscayne Bay, on the upper part, and in the middle of the Miami metropolitan area.

This state park offers varied outdoor activities to its guests. For kayakers, this place is a diamond in the rough. There are pristine, clear waters away from the heavy boat traffic in the open bay. As you paddle along the coast, you’ll find a 1,200-foot long white sand beach and a small fishing pier.

Further on, you will see canals going to mangrove preserves, which are home to Florida’s native wildlife and rare South Florida plants. This kayaking hot spot is so popular that it can get jam-packed during winter, especially on weekends and holidays.

12. Silver Springs State Park, Central Florida

In the 1870s, this Florida tourist spot became popular, perhaps due to its crystal-clear spring waters. The park can be found at the edge of the Ocala National Forest. There are dozens of freshwater springs in this place coming from the coves, headwaters of the Silver River, and along the edges.

This river has a 4.5 mile stretch of clear water. The banks of the Silver River are lined with tropical foliage. It is also home to diverse wildlife, including rhesus monkeys, birds, and lots of freshwater fish.

The park is tourist-friendly. There are guided tours, boat rentals, two separate boat ramps, and amenities, including water and electric hook-ups, free hot showers, and a dump station.

13. Weeki Wachee, Central Florida

The Weeki Wachee River is 7.4 miles long. It is a spring-fed river with crystal clear blue waters. This river has a friendly current, which is good for kayakers since it will do most of the paddling for them. Kayakers flock to this place because of its freshwater cave system. It is the biggest in the county.

There is a huge underwater realm hundreds of feet under the Weeki Wachee river system. The color of the water at the surface is sapphire blue. Within the surrounding areas are small springs that bubble up. They feed the river from within the nearby floodplain forest.

14. Indian River Lagoon, Central Florida

If you really want a unique kayaking experience in Florida, you may want to try the Indian River Lagoon. It is a kayaking trip that you are going to enjoy when it is already dark. There’s a naturally occurring bioluminescence happening here at night. The glowing algae in the lagoon create an electric blue underwater light show. It will be a kayaking experience that you never had before.

Bioluminescence kayaking tours are offered in this place the whole year. Aside from the glowing algae, this lagoon is also home to glowing comb jellies. The bioluminescence can be seen from November through March.

Conclusion – 14 Best Places to Kayak in Florida

So, to summarize everything, our 14 best places to kayak in Florida are as follows:

  1. Suwannee River Paddling Trail, North Florida
  2. Wakulla River, North Florida
  3. Blackwater River, Northwest Florida
  4. The Beaches of Destin, Northwest Florida
  5. Coastal Dune Lakes, Northwest Florida
  6. Pellicer Creek, Northeast Florida
  7. Little Talbot Island State Park, Northeast Florida
  8. Tomoka River, Tomoka State Park, Northeast Florida
  9. Indian Key, South Florida
  10. The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, South Florida
  11. Oleta River State Park, South Florida
  12. Silver Springs State Park, Central Florida
  13. Weeki Wachee, Central Florida
  14. Indian River Lagoon, Central Florida

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful at increasing your enjoyment on the water! Here are some products that we use – as boaters, sailors, kayakers, cruisers, and lovers of the open sea – and we hope you’ll find them helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, we’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the exact products that we use and recommend to everyone, even our own families.

Best Inflatable Kayak: Intex Excursion Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Click here to see this kayak on Amazon.

Best Inflatable Boat: Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Set Series

Sturdy and strong. Easy to set up. Many included accessories. 3 or 4-person.

Click here to see this boat on Amazon.

Best Life Jacket: Stohlquist Fisherman Lifejacket

Super comfortable. Lightweight. Fits like a glove. Lots of easy-to-access storage.

Click here to see this lifejacket on Amazon.

Best Anchor: Slide Anchor Box Anchor

Easy to use. No chain needed. Strong hold. Compact storage. Choose from 3 sizes.

Click here to see this anchor on Amazon.

Best Boat Cover: iCOVER Trailerable Boat Cover

Universal fit. Heavy-duty, waterproof, and UV-resistant. Choose from multiple colors.

Click here to see this boat cover on Amazon.

Or search at the top for many other product reviews and articles.