When it comes to kayaking, Florida has no shortage of breathtaking places to explore. From the lush, green swamps and freshwater springs to the warm, sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the state has something to offer every type of kayaker.
The warm climate of Florida allows for year-round kayaking opportunities, making it the perfect place for nature lovers, adventurists, and families alike. Whether you’re in the mood for a peaceful journey through the mangrove swamps or an adrenaline-filled ride down a river, the Sunshine State has it all.
Top Best Kayaking Places in Florida: From Lakes to Rivers
Here are the top 20 places.
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park is an ideal destination for those looking to explore the natural wonders of Florida. From its iconic crystal-clear springs to its lush forests, to its wide range of outdoor activities, it is a great place to start. For those looking for an even more immersive outdoor experience, nearby Ichetucknee Springs State Park and Loxahatchee River offer pristine waters and trails, while Gulf Islands National Seashore is a stunning coastal destination.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Moving on to Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Florida’s first underwater archaeology preserve, this park is known for its natural beauty and rich history. Located in Fort White, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is well-known for its crystal-clear waters and white sand.
The park’s main features include the Ichetucknee River, which runs through the park and is home to some of the clearest, most pristine springs in the area. The river provides visitors with a unique opportunity to canoe, kayak, and tube through the many springs, creeks, and rivers that flow through the park.
The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, picnicking, and horseback riding. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous trails, which wind through the wooded areas and provide stunning views of the springs and rivers. The park also has a designated swimming area that is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.
The park is also known for its abundant wildlife, including turtles, alligators, and a variety of birds. Visitors can also spot deer and other large mammals in the park. In addition, the park is home to several endangered species, including the Florida panther, red-cockaded woodpecker, and bald eagle.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a great destination for those looking to explore Florida’s natural beauty and rich history. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, take in stunning views of the springs and rivers, and observe the park’s abundant wildlife.
Leaving the beauty of Silver Springs State Park behind, the next stop on the journey is the Loxahatchee River. One of the most beautiful rivers in Florida, the Loxahatchee is a meandering river that courses through a unique ecosystem of tropical forests, wet prairies, and marshlands.
The river is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, manatees, and a wide variety of birds. It is one of the few places in the world where the American crocodile still resides.
Visitors can explore the Loxahatchee River in a variety of ways, from leisurely canoe trips down the river to guided tours on airboats. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Whether visitors are looking for a quiet and peaceful river experience or a more adventurous one, the Loxahatchee River has something for everyone.
The Loxahatchee River is also part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, offering visitors the unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area while still being close to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. From the forests of the river to the white-sand beaches of the Gulf, the Loxahatchee River and its surrounding area is places of unparalleled beauty and natural splendor.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Departing from the natural beauty of Silver Springs State Park, the next destination is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Located on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the area is a paradise of pristine white beaches, emerald waters, and lush vegetation.
The National Seashore is comprised of two distinct sections: the mainland and the islands. The mainland stretches from Pensacola, Florida, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Here, visitors can explore miles of undeveloped beaches, salt marshes, and maritime forests, as well as a number of historic sites.
The Islands section of the National Seashore includes many barrier islands off the coasts of Florida and Mississippi. Here, visitors can experience a variety of activities, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, and bird watching. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and a variety of shorebirds.
The National Seashore is a popular destination for travelers and nature lovers alike. With its stunning beaches, diverse wildlife, and historic sites, the area is a must-see for anyone looking to explore the Gulf Coast. From its breathtaking sunsets to its pristine waters, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is sure to provide a memorable experience.
Fringing the southernmost tip of Key West is the brilliant blue of St. Joseph Bay, home to diverse marine life and a favorite spot for recreational activities. Further south is the majestic Indian River Lagoon, an estuary of unparalleled beauty. And at the very end of Key West lies the incredible Everglades National Park, a rare sanctuary of vibrant wildlife and lush vegetation.
St. Joseph Bay
From the sunshine and natural beauty of Silver Springs State Park, we now travel south to the warm waters of St. Joseph Bay. This bay is situated in the northwest corner of the Florida Panhandle, right along the Gulf of Mexico.
Here, visitors can explore the many varieties of wildlife that make their home in the bay or simply take in the stunning views of the glimmering water and sandy shores.
The crystal-blue waters of St. Joseph Bay are a breeding ground for a variety of fish species, including speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, redfish, and flounder. The shallow waters and long shorelines provide the perfect habitat for these creatures to thrive and reproduce. On any given day, one can find fishermen and women out on the bay, trying their luck at catching some of these tasty fish.
The bay is also home to a wide array of birds, reptiles, and mammals. During the warmer months, shorebirds such as herons and egrets can be seen wading in the shallow waters, while ospreys and bald eagles soar overhead. The mangrove-lined banks create a safe habitat for manatees, dolphins, and even sea turtles.
Not only is St. Joseph Bay a great place to observe wildlife, but it is also a popular destination for swimming, kayaking, and sailing. With calm and shallow waters, visitors can feel safe and relaxed as they explore the area. Those looking for a more exciting adventure can take a boat ride and experience the thrill of navigating the bay’s many channels and islands.
No matter what activities one decides to take part in, St. Joseph Bay is sure to provide a unique and memorable experience. From the diverse wildlife to the stunning views, this bay is an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
Indian River Lagoon
After leaving the serenity of Silver Springs State Park, travelers may wish to explore the Indian River Lagoon, a body of water that spans 156 miles along Florida’s east coast. With its brackish estuaries, mangroves, and salt marshes, the lagoon is rich in biodiversity and contains over 4,000 species of plants and animals.
The Indian River Lagoon has been a vital resource to the people of Florida since the early 16th century. The Timucuan Indians were the first to use the lagoon’s bounty for food, medicine, and other necessities. Later, colonists and settlers used the lagoon to transport goods and people. Today, the lagoon is still an important resource for local residents who rely on it for fishing, hunting, and recreation.
For visitors, the Indian River Lagoon provides an opportunity to explore the area’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife. The lagoon is home to alligators, manatees, dolphins, and a wide variety of birds, making it a great spot for birdwatchers.
The lagoon also offers visitors a chance to explore its many islands, including the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore. Here, visitors can take part in activities such as kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching.
The Indian River Lagoon is a vital part of Florida’s natural heritage and provides a unique opportunity to explore the state’s unique wildlife. From the lush mangroves to the diverse array of flora and fauna, the lagoon offers a glimpse of Florida’s beauty and history that’s not to be missed.
Everglades National Park
Departing from the enchanting beauty of Silver Springs State Park, our journey continues south to the warm and enchanting Everglades National Park. Located in the southern tip of Florida, Everglades National Park is a place of unparalleled beauty and wonder.
The Everglades is a diverse environment, home to many unique animals and plants. It is the largest subtropical wetland in North America and a haven for many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, including the Florida panther and American alligator. The park also boasts a wide variety of plant life, including sabal palms, cypress trees, and mangroves.
The Everglades is a place of rich history and culture, and visitors can explore the area’s past by visiting its many archaeological sites. The park also features several boat tours and airboat rides, allowing travelers to experience the park from a new perspective. Visitors can also take part in the park’s educational programs, which offer a deeper understanding of the ecological importance of the Everglades.
The Everglades is a place of stunning beauty and abundant wildlife, and a visit to this unique place is sure to be a memorable experience. From the sights and sounds of the subtropical wetlands to the fascinating history and culture of the area, Everglades National Park is an incredible destination that should not be missed.
The crystal-clear Rainbow River meanders through the lush expanse of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, offering visitors breathtaking views of the unique local flora and fauna.
Just a short drive away, Big Cypress National Preserve features the elusive Florida Panther, along with a myriad of other wildlife. Hillsborough River State Park is a delightful destination for kayaking and canoeing, with its calm waters and abundance of aquatic life.
Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park
Leaving the sandy beaches of Key West behind, the journey continues to Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, an ecological treasure trove. The park covers over 50,000 acres of estuarine waters and islands, with a wide selection of habitats including seagrass beds, mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, and pine flatwoods.
Its rich variety of wildlife includes Florida manatees, bald eagles, gopher tortoises, and a number of rare and endangered species. The park provides plenty of opportunities for recreation and exploration. Visitors can take boat tours of the harbor, go fishing, explore miles of hiking and biking trails, or set out on a kayaking or canoeing adventure.
It’s a great spot for birdwatchers as well; Charlotte Harbor is home to more than 250 species of birds, many of which migrate through the area. The park also provides educational programs to help visitors learn more about the local environment.
The park’s interpretive center offers interactive displays and exhibits about the unique ecosystem of the harbor, as well as guided tours and workshops. There are also programs for school groups, offering hands-on activities and field trips to introduce children to the wonders of the local environment.
Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike. Whether you’re looking for a day of fishing, a weekend of wildlife watching, or a chance to explore the unique natural environment of the harbor, this state park has something for everyone.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Leaving the warm and sunny shores of Key West, our next destination is the Big Cypress National Preserve. With its 729,000 acres of wetlands, the preserve is a tropical paradise of ancient cypress forests, mysterious mangroves, and crystal-clear rivers. It is a place of incredible natural beauty and a haven for over 200 species of birds, as well as panthers, black bears, and alligators.
The Big Cypress National Preserve is the perfect place to get away from it all and relax. Visitors can explore the preserve on foot or by canoe, kayak, or airboat. The swamps and rivers are teeming with wildlife, and the preserve offers plenty of opportunities for bird-watching.
For those looking for a more active adventure, the preserve offers several trails. The Turner River Trail is one of the most popular, and it takes hikers through a winding and lush cypress forest. The loop trail is about two miles long and passes by a variety of ecosystems, including swamps, open prairies, and hammocks. Along the way, hikers may spot alligators, turtles, and a variety of birds.
For those looking for a truly unique experience, Big Cypress National Preserve also offers airboat tours. An experienced guide will take you through the swamps and wetlands, giving you the chance to spot alligators, bald eagles, and a variety of other wildlife.
You will also be able to learn about the history and culture of the area, as the preserve is home to many archaeological sites and ancient Native American artifacts. No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, Big Cypress National Preserve is sure to delight. Its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife make it a must-see destination for any Florida traveler.
Hillsborough River State Park
Leaving the sun-drenched beaches of Key West behind, we find ourselves in the lush wetlands of Central Florida, home to Hillsborough River State Park. Towering cypress trees, draped with Spanish moss, line the banks of this sparkling river, while sandy beaches provide plenty of opportunities for swimming and relaxation.
Home to a wide variety of wildlife, the park is a hotspot for birdwatchers, while its five miles of hiking trails provide plenty of scenic views. For those looking to experience the natural beauty of the area, Hillsborough River State Park has something for everyone.
Those looking for a peaceful stroll can take a leisurely hike along the riverbank, where they can observe the wide array of wildlife, including turtles, otters, and alligators. For the more adventurous types, the park provides plenty of opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing down the river.
Hillsborough River State Park is also home to a variety of historic sites, including a 19th-century fort, an old sugar mill, and a Civil War-era cemetery. Visitors can also explore the park’s natural springs, which have attracted visitors for centuries.
From the crystal-clear waters of the springs to the majestic cypress trees, Hillsborough River State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Central Florida.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll through nature or an adventurous journey down the river, Hillsborough River State Park has something for everyone. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and historic sites, it’s the perfect place to spend a day in the sunshine.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Nestled between Tomoka State Park, the Chassahowitzka River, and Tarpon Springs lies Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a picturesque sanctuary of lush greenery and majestic springs. Visitors of all ages will be mesmerized by its crystal-clear waters and captivated by its abundance of wildlife, creating an unforgettable experience. A stay at this magical paradise is sure to create lasting memories of its breathtaking beauty.
Tomoka State Park
Moving from the colorful, glistening waves of the Rainbow River, the next destination on the journey is Tomoka State Park. This beloved park offers an array of activities for visitors of all ages.
Here, swimmers and boaters alike can take to the water to explore the natural beauty of the area. The park boasts a boat ramp, dock, and sandy beach, making it an ideal spot for swimming, fishing, and even scuba diving. For those interested in land activities, Tomoka State Park also offers an array of trails, perfect for hiking and biking.
The trails traverse through a variety of ecosystems, from the dunes of the Atlantic coast to the scrub pine flatwoods. In addition to recreational activities, Tomoka State Park also offers a range of educational opportunities. Visitors can learn about the park’s unique history, which includes an ancient Native American shell mound as well as a fort built by the Spanish.
The park also has a variety of wildlife, such as the endangered gopher tortoise, as well as several species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. Tomoka State Park is an ideal destination for those looking to discover the natural beauty of the Florida coast.
With its stunning views, diverse wildlife, and range of activities, the park is sure to provide a memorable experience for all who visit. Whether it’s bird watching, fishing, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of the park, Tomoka State Park has something for everyone.
Just a short drive south of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park lies Tomoka State Park, a beautiful spot on the Florida landscape. A visit to Tomoka State Park is sure to be an enjoyable experience with its shoreline views and abundant wildlife. From Tomoka State Park, it’s just a short drive to the Chassahowitzka River, an important part of Florida’s ecology.
The Chassahowitzka River is an impressive sight, winding its way through the Florida landscape. Its waters are emerald green, and the reflection of sunlight on its surface creates a beautiful glimmer. The banks of the river are lush and lined with ancient cypress trees, making it a peaceful spot to visit. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of birds, fish, and other animals.
The Chassahowitzka River is an important habitat for various species of fish, including bass, catfish, and several varieties of panfish. It’s also home to an abundance of wildlife, including otters, alligators, and turtles. Visitors to the Chassahowitzka River may also spot some of the area’s more exotic species like the manatee, an endangered species of sea cow.
The Chassahowitzka River also serves as a great spot for recreational activities. Boating, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular activities here, and the river’s calm waters make it an ideal spot for fishing. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the river’s banks or take in some of the area’s stunning scenery.
The adventure continues as we turn our attention to Tarpon Springs, a town steeped in history and culture. Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, this vibrant city is renowned for its Greek roots, with over 50% of the population being of Greek heritage. Visitors to the city can explore a variety of cultural and historic attractions, from the historic sponge docks to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity.
The downtown area of Tarpon Springs is a treasure trove of history and culture. Take a stroll down Dodecanese Avenue to explore an array of Greek-style shops and restaurants. A visit to the Sponge Docks offers a unique glimpse into the history and culture of the city, with the opportunity to purchase fresh sponges and learn about the sponge industry.
The city also hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, including the annual Epiphany Celebration. This traditional Greek festival is held annually on January 6th and commemorates the baptism of Jesus. The celebration is a vibrant display of Greek culture and includes a procession of boats and a ceremonial dive for the cross.
No visit to Tarpon Springs is complete without a visit to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity. Founded in 1907, the Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest and most prominent Greek Orthodox churches in the United States. The church is home to a variety of mosaics and other works of art, as well as an impressive collection of religious artifacts.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area
Next on the list of incredible Florida springs is Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Surrounded by lush greenery and an enchanting atmosphere, Juniper Springs is a sight to behold. The springs offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the area’s pristine beauty, as well as a variety of activities for all ages.
The springs are located in the Ocala National Forest and provide visitors with a picturesque view of the surrounding wildlife and vegetation. Juniper Springs has been a popular destination for swimmers, hikers, and campers for years. The clear, cool waters are perfect for swimming, and the nearby nature trails offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The Juniper Springs Recreation Area is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, fish, and birds. Visitors can also observe the variety of trees and plants that grow in the area, such as cypress, juniper, and palm. These trees provide a shady canopy under which visitors can enjoy the beauty of the springs.
Juniper Springs is also popular for its canoe and kayak trails. The trails are easy to follow and provide a unique experience for paddlers. They are also a great way to explore the area’s hidden gems. Visitors can also take a dip in the refreshing spring-fed pools and enjoy the cool, pristine waters.
The recreation area is also home to a variety of other activities. Visitors can explore the nearby hiking trails and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding forests. There are also fishing spots, picnic areas, and a campground. For visitors looking for a more exciting experience, the nearby Juniper Springs River offers tubing and rafting opportunities.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area is a hidden gem in the Ocala National Forest and a great destination for a fun day trip. Whether visitors are looking for a peaceful getaway or an adventurous outdoor experience, Juniper Springs has something to offer for everyone.
Oleta River State Park
Towering away from the springs and crystal-clear rivers of Juniper Springs Recreation Area, lies the renowned Oleta River State Park. Spanning over 1,000 acres, Oleta River State Park is home to a number of activities and a unique ecosystem.
Encased in lush mangroves and natural Florida beauty, Oleta River State Park is a haven for adventure. From fishing and kayaking in the crystal-clear waters to mountain biking and hiking through the dense forests, the park offers something for everyone. The winding trails and boardwalks provide spectacular views of the lush mangroves and diverse wildlife.
The park is also home to a number of native species including hawks, ospreys, and ibises, as well as a variety of fish and reptiles. With over 10 miles of mountain bike trails, visitors can explore the park on two wheels, while the kayak and canoe rentals make it easy to explore the park’s waterways.
For those looking for a more relaxed experience, the park provides a tranquil oasis with plenty of options for bird watching and wildlife observation. The park also has a playground and picnic areas perfect for a family gathering or a romantic outing. Visitors to the park can also enjoy the rare beauty of the endangered manatee in its natural habitat or take a leisurely stroll along the beach.
Oleta River State Park is a captivating destination filled with activities and beauty. With winding trails, crystal-clear waters, and diverse wildlife, it’s the perfect spot for adventurers and nature lovers alike. From fishing and kayaking to mountain biking and bird watching, the park offers something for everyone. Experience the beauty of Florida’s natural landscape and explore the wonders of Oleta River State Park.
Blackwater River State Park
Leaving the lush green landscape of Oleta River State Park, your journey takes you to the beautiful Blackwater River State Park. As you make your way towards the park, you can feel the excitement bubble up as you admire the stunning scenery of lush green forests and crystal clear waters. The sun is shining and the air is clean, making it the perfect atmosphere to explore the park and all it has to offer.
As you enter the park, you are welcomed by a wide variety of trees, each with its own unique beauty, from tall pines to wide-reaching oaks. The bright green foliage creates a vibrant contrast to the crisp blue sky. You can hear the sound of the gentle river flowing nearby and the birds chirping in the trees, creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere.
Continuing on your journey, you come across the Blackwater River. The crystal clear dark blue water is inviting and you stop to dip your toes in the cool water. As you look around, you can see the beauty of nature in all its glory. You can spot small fish swimming in the depths and bright red dragonflies hovering over the surface.
Heading further into the park, you are in awe of the majestic nature that surrounds you. From the tall trees to the colorful flowers, the park truly has something for everyone to enjoy. You come across a rocky area where the river has created small waterfalls and cascades, adding to the tranquil atmosphere.
You eventually come across a picnic area and take a break to relax and soak in the beauty of the park. You can feel the sun on your face and the gentle breeze blowing through the trees. Taking in the sights and sounds of nature, you can’t help but feel rejuvenated.
The day draws to an end, but the memories you’ve made at Blackwater River State Park will stay with you forever. You take one last look around, admiring the beauty of the park and the peaceful atmosphere it has to offer. With a sense of awe and admiration, you make your way back, feeling refreshed and energized.
Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail
Moving on from the stunning natural beauty of Blackwater River State Park, the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that weaves its way through Lee County, Florida. Starting in Fort Myers, the trail heads south to Sanibel Island, before turning north and heading up the Gulf Coast, leading to Charlotte Harbor.
Along the way, the trail passes through beautiful estuarine forests, brackish marshes, and mangrove-lined rivers. The trail consists of a series of interconnected loops, each offering paddlers the opportunity to explore a variety of habitats and experience the beauty of the area’s coastal marshes and estuaries.
It is filled with an abundance of wildlife, including a variety of fish, birds, and turtles. The trail also passes through several historic sites, including Mound Key, an ancient Calusa Indian ceremonial site, as well as a variety of fishing spots.
The Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is designed to be enjoyed by all skill levels, from amateur paddlers to experienced outdoors people. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, you’ll find the perfect route to explore the area’s natural beauty.
For the experienced kayaker, there are long-distance routes along the entire length of the trail. For beginners, there are shorter routes and protected areas to explore.
The trail has several access points along the way, allowing paddlers to start and finish at any point along the route. There are also several campsites located along the trail, so paddlers can enjoy a unique camping experience in the midst of the area’s natural beauty.
The Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a great place to experience the diverse beauty of the area. Whether you’re looking for an exciting adventure or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this trail offers something for everyone. With its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and historic sites, this trail is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Florida is a great destination for kayakers looking for a fun and scenic getaway. From the crystal-clear waters of Silver Springs State Park to the vibrant coral reefs of Key West, there is no shortage of unique and stunning places to explore by kayak.
With its numerous rivers, springs, and trails, kayaking in Florida offers something for everyone, from beginners to experienced paddlers. Whether you’re looking for the best kayaking spots in Florida, a thrilling whitewater adventure, or a leisurely paddle through a mangrove tunnel, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to explore and create lasting memories.