21 Best places to go kayaking in Florida

Looking for the best places to go kayaking in Florida? We are here to help! 

Florida is home to fantastic beaches, springs and rivers, making it an excellent destination for kayaking lovers. There are a plethora of water activities available and the possibility in terms of kayaking are endless.

In the southern part of the Sunshine State, you will get to kayak around the mangroves and see amazing wildlife. In central Florida, opt for the springs. They are incredibly pretty and you may spot some manatees. The North is ideal for river kayaking.

So, are you ready to go kayaking in Florida? Let’s get started!

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Best places for kayaking in Florida

Best springs to kayak in Florida

Weeki Wachee

Location: Central Florida

Best for: Families

Weeki Wachee is one of the local’s favourite kayaking destination. It’s home to fantastic springs and a beautiful river meaning that you can kayak on both! Perfect for people who want to get the best of both worlds.

Launch your kayak near the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and let the current push you down the 7-mile river. This is an easy kayaking spot as the water will do the bulk of the work for you.

Enjoy the beautiful blue waters of the Weeki Wachee River and the wildlife surrounding the river as you kayak.

This area is also home to manatees. With a constant temperature of 72F, Weeki Wachee is one of the places where the manatees stay in winter. 

If you are kayaking there between January and March, chances are that you will see some of them!

Weeki Wachee is also home to Florida’s most famous mermaid show! This is a great thing to see before or after your kayaking trip. Kids always love but so do the adults!

Blue Springs State Park

Location: Central Florida

Best for: Families

Blue Springs State Park is located between Orlando and Daytona Beach. It’s a great place to visit on a day trip from Orlando. If you are visiting the theme parks and want to take a break for a day, that will be the perfect destination!

The springs are home to many manatees in winter and kayaking is an excellent way to see them. You can bring your own kayak or rent one in a local shop.

If you are staying in Orlando, you can also opt for a kayaking day trip. Click here to see the latest prices.

Please note that this is a fairly popular spot in Florida so it’s recommended to head there early to beat the crowds. Once the park reaches full capacity, you won’t be able to enter and that would be a shame.

The entry fee for the park is $6 per vehicle.

Crystal River

crystal river in florida

Location: Central Florida

Best for: Families and adventurers

Crystal River is a small town located in Central Florida. It’s well known for being home to 70 freshwater springs including one of the famous Three Sisters Spring.

From January to March, hundreds of manatees are staying in the springs. You will be able to see them and even go for a swim if you want. Crystal River is the only place in Florida where you can swim with the manatees.

You can launch your kayak at Hunter Springs and make your way on the river to the stunning Three Sisters Springs. 

It’s also an excellent snorkeling spot!

If you don’t have your own kayak or want to try something different you can opt for the following options:

  • Guided kayak tour. You will be kayaking from Crystal River to the Three Sisters Spring with a local guide. The tour lasts about 2 hours and is a great way to discover the area while learning more about the local wildlife and vegetation. Click here to see the latest prices.
  • Renting a clear kayak. The water in Crystal River is insanely clear and opting for a clear kayak is a great way to be able to see even more! If you are heading to the springs, you will be able to see the manatees swimming underneath your kayak. How cool is that?! Click here to see the latest prices.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Location: Central Florida

Best for: Families

Wekiwa Springs State Park is very close to Orlando, making it an excellent place to visit for locals and international travelers.

You can easily get there by car. It only takes 20 minutes from downtown. Due to its proximity to the city, this can get a bit crowded during the school holidays and weekends. Make sure to get there early as the park closes once it reaches full capacity.

You can bring your own kayak or choose to rent one at Wekiwa Island. There are several paths you can take. If you are a beginner, you may want to stay around the springs. For more experienced kayakers, go down the Wekiwa River. It’s good fun!

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Location: North Florida

Best for: All levels of kayakers

This location is opened for seasonal tubing and swimming but you can kayak here the whole year. Take time to observe otters and turtles having fun in the water as you glide along.

Best places for sea kayaking in Florida

Tavernier & Key Largo

kayaking key largo

Location: South Florida

Best for: All levels

Located in the Florida Keys, Tavernier is an excellent place to go kayaking. There are loads of mangroves and the sea is pretty calm. This means you get to explore both! 

You can rent a kayak directly there but if you can, I highly recommend going on a guided tour. See prices here.

You can opt for a single or double kayak. The guide will take you around the coast and in the mangrove creeks. He will show you various animals and birds and tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful eco-system.

You will see upside-down jellyfish, crabs, birds and maybe even some manatees. 

things to do florida keys

This is definitely one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys. You will have so much fun!

Click here to see the latest prices.

Shell Key

Location: Tampa Bay

Best for: Adventurers

Shell Key Preserve is an island located south of St Petersburg, FL. The only way to get there is by boat. For that, you can choose to kayak or take the shuttle from St Pete Beach and start kayaking from the island.

This Florida hidden gem is so beautiful and exploring on board of a kayak is a magical thing to do. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, mangroves… it truly has it all!

Anastacia state Park

Location: North East Florida

Best for: Both beginner and experienced kayakers

Anastacia State Park is located near St Augustine. It’s a great place to visit if you are spending a weekend in St Augustine or on a Florida road trip.

With over 1,600 acres of land in Anastacia state park, there is no shortage of amazing outdoor activities that you can do here.

Kayaking is popular because the river’s course is both gentle and challenging, depending on where you start.

Beginners are encouraged to hire guides for safety purposes but if you are used to kayaking, you can easily make your way on your own. You will find wildlife, beautiful plants, flowers as well as thriving marine life here.

You will also enjoy the views of St Augustine Lighthouse and the beautiful beaches. Once you are done with kayaking, make sure to spend some time at the beach. You’ll find loads of them! The sand is super white and soft and the water is crystal clear. It truly is beautiful.

The entry fee for the state park is $8 per vehicle.

Indian Key

Location: South Florida

Best for: People who love calmness and privacy

If you are looking for a secluded location to kayak in Florida, Indian Key should jump into your mind. It’s located in the beautiful Florida Keys, 1/2 offshore.

The only way to get there is by boat. Kayaking (or paddling) is the best way to reach it. It’s very shallow which makes it easy and safe.

The waters are crystal clear and the privacy accorded by the location of this kayaking destination allows kayakers to swim, picnic, or enjoy rare wildlife sightings.

This historic state park is also a great place to visit if you are into history. You will learn plenty about the civil war!

Cedar Key

Location: Gulf Coast, Florida

Best for: Sea-water lovers

Cedar Key is an island town on the Gulf Coast. It’s the perfect destination for people who want to stay away from the crowds and discover a quaint and old-fashioned Florida town.

The waters in Cedar Key are pretty calm, making it easy for sea kayakers to have a relaxed paddling experience.

There are several local shops such as Cedar Key Adventures where you can rent a kayak.

You can lounge on the beach after a long day spent kayaking or hiking inside the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife sightings are a common feature here.

The Great Calusa Blueway

Location: South West Florida

Best for: All levels of kayakers

Located between Fort Myers and Naples, FL, the Great Calusa Blueway is perfect for people who want to explore the mangroves.

The 190 miles canvassing this location make it a popular spot for all types of kayakers. You will find kayakers at every level of experience here.

There are mangrove tunnels, sandbars, rapids, wildlife, marine life, birds, lush vegetation, and booming flowers to explore.

Best rivers to kayak in Florida

Homosassa River

homosassa in florida

Location: Central Florida

Best for: Families

Homosassa Springs State Park is located in central Florida. It’s very close to Crystal River and Weeki Wachee which means you can hit two birds with one stone if you want to.

You can easily go there on a day trip from Tampa or St Pete, it’s only a couple of hours drive.

You can bring your own kayak or rent one directly there. You can kayak along the beautiful river and head towards the springs.

Once you are done, make sure to stop at the visitor center of the state park to visit this part as well. There is $13 entry fee that includes a river boat tour and access to the wildlife park. It’s a great thing to do, especially with kids.

Wakulla River

Location: North Florida

Best for: Beginner kayakers

The Wakulla River is a great option for people looking for a place to kayak near Tallahassee.

This is a calm kayaking destination, where you paddle the 11-mile length of the Wakulla River. You will enjoy fantastic views of the lush vegetation, marine life, and wildlife.

Expect to see alligators and turtles enjoying themselves on the banks of this river.

Bird lovers will be in for a treat here, so don’t forget to take your binocular. You can bring your kayak or rent one at the TnT Hideaway.

Holmes Creek

Location: Northwest Florida

Best for: Both beginner and experienced kayakers

Located near Panama City, Holmes Creek is a great place for people who want to kayak on a river and visit some springs on the way.

The winding waterway of Holmes Creek will be a spectacle to behold, taking you through swamplands and mild rapids along the course of the river.

There is abundant wildlife to see here. Beautiful flowers line your way as you paddle down the creek.

There are 15 springs along the creek. Cypress Spring is one of the most beautiful springs in the area and you will love spending some time there.

Santa Fe River

Location: North -Central Florida

Best for: Families

If you are looking for a fun family kayaking experience, this would be the ideal destination. Santa Fe is a 15-mile river where kayakers come to enjoy the sparkling waters, the woods, the flowers, the marine, and wildlife.

It is known as one of the best rivers for kayaking in Florida. There is a bit of a current which makes it easier for you. You will get to see way more in way less time. That having been said, it’s not something you should worry about either. The current is just enough to push you a bit but not too strong.

Take time to jump in the water for a swim. If you want to see the flowers in full bloom, visit during springtime. The sights as you have your picnic will be stunning.

Suwannee River

Location: North-Central Florida

Best for: People who love historic destinations

Kayaking on the Suwannee River offers so much more than just beautiful surroundings. It’s an experience!

There is a rich history here. The first settlers set base here and as you paddle along the river, you will notice the old cemetery and the fortification camps that played a vital role during the Civil War.

You can launch your kayak at the Stephen Foster State Park and work your way down to the Spirit of Suwannee River State Park.

Manatee River

Location: West Central Florida

Best for: People who love kayaking in the wild

Mangrove forests, quiet and calm wilderness, an occasional wildlife sight, birds chirping incessantly… here is what you will get while kayaking on the Manatee River!

The river stretch is divided into different sections, from Manatee County to Tampa Bay. Beginner kayakers will be at home here.

Bird watching, wildlife sightings, hiking, swimming, and engaging in other water sports activities are some of the common activities people engage in here.

Blackwater River

Location: Northwest Florida

Best for: Adrenaline lovers

The waters of the Blackwater River go swift, making this a popular destination for adrenaline lovers. Beginners may find themselves out of depth here.

There are 31 miles available for kayaking exploration along the course of the river. The beaches are beautiful. The white and soft sand offers a sharp contrast to the dark waters of the river. You can rent a kayak here and let the water current direct you towards the state park.

Myakka River

Location: Gulf Coast

Best for: Wildlife lovers

This is a secluded location where you will find some of the largest alligators on the Gulf Coast. Nature will be your best friend here.

Do not be tempted to swim in the waters of the Myakka River, unless you have a guide with you.

Fisheating Creek

Location: Palm Dale, South Florida

Best for: Seasonal Kayaking experience

Fisheating Creek is a great kayaking destination when the water levels are high. Water levels fluctuate here, so make sure to time your kayaking expedition well. The best time would be in November.

The course winds around an amazing cypress forest, with huge roots jutting from the ground. This was once private property but it has now opened to the public.

St. Johns River

Location: North Florida

Best for: Marine life explorers

The waters are St.Johns River is perfect for exploration of the Manatees. You can launch your kayak from the Blue Springs State Park and follow the course into the St. Johns River.

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