While it’s nice to enjoy your time going to restaurants and theme parks dotting Orlando, you might still find yourself needing to experience nature and all the peace and quiet it offers. One of the best ways you can do this is through kayaking or canoeing through the enchanting waters of Orlando.
Kayaking is an excellent way to explore Orlando’s rivers, lakes, and springs. Not to mention, you can spot wildlife through the natural scenes around you.
If you’re visiting Orlando soon, you’d better start planning for your destinations and get your gear set! Here’re some of the best places to go kayaking in Orlando!
1. Lido Key Mangroves
Lido Keys Mangroves is best suited for those who want to go both on the road and on a kayaking trip. It might take several hours to reach Lido Key, though, so make sure you're prepared for a long ride.
In Lido Country Park, you’ll find a range of mangrove tunnels facing Sarasota Bay, where you’ll be able to navigate your kayak through calm waters. While the tunnels might seem intimidating at first, there’s nothing you should worry about, as they’re well marked and easy to navigate through.
Luckily, the currents aren’t that rough, so it’ll be relatively easy to paddle, even for beginner kayakers. As you paddle your way through the tunnels, you’ll be able to spot a variety of wildlife, like the infamous manatee.
In short, kayaking in Lido Key is more of an adventure for beginner and expert kayakers alike, so make sure to visit the mangroves whenever you’re in Orlando.
2. JB’s Fish Camp
The JB’s Fish Camp is a well-known hangout for anyone near New Smyrna Beach. There, you can enjoy a variety of seafood as you watch the enchanting sunset views.
Most of the bars and restaurants in JB’s Fish Camp offer kayak rentals, so you can hop onto one and spot the array of local wildlife, including dolphins, alligators, manatees, and even sharks, but that depends on which time you visit the camp.
Make sure to grab some lunch before heading out on your adventure, too! And get a full tour ride if you're not familiar with the area. That'll help you see all the best scenes the water has to offer.
3. Silver Springs State Park
The Silver Springs State Park is mostly popular for its glass-bottom boat tours. However, if you like to explore the wilderness on your own, you can always rent a kayak or a paddleboard.
As you paddle along the waters of the spring-fed river, you’ll spot wooden bridges and vines dangling over the cypress trees. If you get there at the right time, you might spot the park’s inhabitants, like the rhesus macaques, reptiles, and exotic birds.
All in all, the Silver Springs State Park is one of the greatest natural attractions in the Orlando area, and you’ll definitely get a worthy adventure.
4. Wekiwa Springs State Park
If you don't like to take road trips to get to your destination, the Wekiwa Springs State Park is relatively close to Orlando. You can make it there in about half an hour, go to a kayaking rental, and start paddling through the glassy waters; then, you can cool off in the cool spring.
As you start paddling through the Wekiva River, you’ll spot alligators on the riverbank. You might even be able to hear them. Plus, you can spot turtles, native birds, or otters if you’re lucky.
At the Wekiwa Springs State Park, you'll find single and tandem kayak rentals, and the rental costs are pretty affordable, so you can use either paddle your way through the river the entire day or enjoy a peaceful 2-hour trip without breaking the bank.
After you’re done with paddling and cooling off at the springs, have a drink at the Wekiva Island, where you’ll also find kayak rentals.
Be sure to arrive early in the morning, though, as Wekiwa Springs can get a bit crowded on weekends. On hot days, bring along a lot of water, as it’s easy to get dehydrated!
5. Crystal River/Kings Bay
While kayaking can help you spot several animals from afar, paddling through the Crystal River area is entirely something else. There, you might spot manatees right next to you as you paddle around!
The Crystal River is a home for hundreds of manatees; you can spot them nearly at any time of the year. This is mainly due to the warm temperature of the water, even in winter.
While this river isn’t exactly located in Orlando, it takes a 1.5-hour drive to get there, but the journey is absolutely worth it! This location is also suited for beginners, as the water isn’t turbulent. However, you might want to go on a guided tour if it’s your first time paddling.
While manatees can be spotted at basically any time of the year, the best times to visit the Crystal River/Kings Bay are during the fall and winter months.
6. Winter Park Chain Of Lakes
Saving the best for the last, we introduce one of the Orlando area's most attractive locations – The Winter Park Chain of Lakes. It features Venetian-like canals, which you can only access by water. There, you can kayak through Lakes Killarney, Osceola Maitland, Virginia, and Mizell.
The canal banks are flanked with lush vegetation and beautiful homes that you’d be tempted to take photos of at every twist and turn.
This is the best hotspot for kayakers in Orlando and Florida in general, so be sure to give it a shot whenever you’re in the area.
Finding a kayaking destination isn’t that hard. Depending on where you are and how long you’re planning to stay on your kayak trip, you can find the perfect location for kayaking in Orlando for both you and your companions!