Kayaking is a serene activity that has been around for thousands of years, and we enjoy it even more while immersed in the calm ambiance of the tropical waters or a vast pristine hot spring with clear water under it and a prime view of marine life.
When you look at Florida’s diverse ecosystem, it’s no wonder that many paddlers set their destination to the Sunshine State for a riveting experience in the crystal clear waters lining up with locals of the natural Floridian biome. If you haven’t tried it yet, we highly recommend putting it high up on your bucket list.
With hundreds of kayaking spots, Florida has an abundance of must-see places. From the luminescent hot springs to the iconic mangrove tunnels, you’re likely to find your new favorite kayaking spot (or spots) in this paddling paradise. Let’s take a look at 6 of the most stunning kayaking spots in Florida.
1. Rainbow Springs
One of the most photogenic spots in Florida, Rainbow Springs has waters that are a naturally saturated shade of blue with lush flora spangled over the banks and some fantastic birds and amphibians complementing the scenery.
You’ll be amazed by how vibrant the water there remains and how fresh it feels every time you visit. The springs consist of multiple small vents that collectively pump out more than 400 gallons of freshwater every day. No wonder it’s such an attraction for tourists and wildlife alike!
You’ll likely even want to step out of your kayak for a swim in this place.
2. Winter Park Chain of Lakes
The Winter Park Chain of Lakes consists of six freshwater lakes home to rich aquatic vegetation that thrives on the riverbanks, giving room for birds to nest and turtles to rest as the numerous fish go about with their routines.
The lakes offer you a cinematic trip through the symbiotic relationship between their inhabitants, and the narrow canals, especially the Venetian canal, are a treat if you want a refreshing cruise through the city’s historical monuments in the tree shade.
3. Silver Springs
If you’re looking to view diverse wildlife on your kayaking trip, this is your go-to place.
Being the largest artesian spring globally, Silver Springs encompasses many creatures that call it home. There, you’ll regularly come across birds, otters, turtles, any of 22 different species of fish, and if you’re lucky, even rhesus monkeys.
You may feel like you’re traveling back in time as you go through Silver Springs. Its state park is the oldest tourist attraction in the entire state and has been drawing tourists since the middle of the 19th century! It’s also the site where many classic movies were filmed, such as Tarzan the Ape Man.
4. Crystal River
A trip in Florida’s nature wouldn’t be complete without seeing the iconic manatees that migrate to Florida just before winter to take refuge in the naturally warm springs present there – that’s why Crystal River is sometimes referred to as the manatee capital of the world. You can even swim or snorkel with them there.
The town of Crystal River itself is small, and you’ll get the feeling that everything there is related to manatee tourism. It’s the best bet for kayakers to spend some quality time paddling in clear water lagoons with the local manatees swimming right under or even alongside your kayak. The experience is remarkable, and it feels as if the manatees are welcoming you to their home.
5. Cedar Key
We looked at manatees. Now it's time for dolphins! Cedar Key is a tiny town that spots a massive water body that seems like it goes on forever. The sunsets there are especially marvelous as you watch the orange sunset below a seemingly infinite horizon of water.
One of the icons of Cedar Key is dolphins. Just minutes after you start your sea journey, you’ll begin seeing their fins, and it’ll feel as if they’re dancing around you. They may not get very close to your kayak, but it’s simply quite remarkable watching them as they go about their routine or play with each other.
6. Merritt Island
This one is a hidden gem. Merritt Island is 140,000 acres of nothing but natural reserve, untouched and unspoiled. The lack of artificial light and pollution leads to a phenomenon that you won’t believe until you see for yourself — bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence occurs when planktons glow up due to disturbance in the water, mainly due to ripples when we paddle. They light up in a neon cyan color that's hugely conspicuous under the right circumstances, namely an environment clear of pollution and a dark night. The effect is breathtaking, almost in an eerie way.
And it’s not only bioluminescence but also the incredible sky view that we don’t get very often inland. On a clear day in Merritt Island, you can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and dozens of shooting stars streaking through the black sky.
If you’re lucky enough, you can even spot a dolphin swimming under the glowing planktons, and the result looks like the dolphin itself is lighting up.
The wealth of natural beauty you can find in Florida calls for a trip in its alluring ecosystem, where an entire world of wonders lies around you.
Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or merely looking to get your foot in the door, Florida has something for everyone to enjoy, be it watching the local creatures in their natural habitats or going for a peaceful stroll in a quiet lazy river. So start packing your equipment, and let’s get paddling!