Kayaking in Florida | Top 8 Kayaking Destinations in Florida

So, are you interested to know about kayaking in Florida?

Florida is one of the top kayaking destinations in the US. The sunshine state has a diverse natural landscape and hosts a variety of places for paddling. Some of the most pristine and beautiful paddling trails in the sunshine state have reefs, bays, inlets, and moss-covered canopies of ancient mangrove and Cyprus forests. With so many attractive destinations, it may be difficult to determine which one is ideal for you. In this article, we explore the top 8 kayaking destinations in Florida and what they have to offer.

1.     Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Situated at the heart of North Florida’s agricultural flatlands, Ichetucknee is one of the gems of the sunshine state. In 1972, it was designated a National Natural Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior. It’s crystal clear waters, have earned it many nicknames including “The clearest water in the world”. Ichetucknee is open all year round for canoeing and kayaking and seasonally for tubing and swimming.

Main Attractions 

  • Crystalline ice-cold water flowing from freshwater springs
  • Moss covered limestone and Cyprus banks
  • Lots of opportunities for tubing and swimming

2.     Rainbow River

Further to the west of North Florida is the famous Rainbow Springs which pumps fresh water into the rainbow river. The 6-mile river gives you an opportunity to experience flora and fauna at its best. The paddling trail from Rainbow Springs Park in Dunnellon takes you past the Ocala National Forest and back to Rainbow Springs. Along the way, you will get the opportunity to experience moss-covered pine and Cyprus, river otters, and turtles. In the right conditions, water visibility can extend up to 100 feet making it an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Main Attractions 

  • Ideal for bird watching
  • Moss covered pine and Cyprus
  • Ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Lots of opportunities to view wildlife

3.     Suwanee River

The Suwanee River runs 246 miles from Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. Paddling through the Suwanee River allows you to experience the famous tourist resort of White Springs, ancient Cyprus and pine forests, and over 20 water springs flowing into the river. The paddling trail features several conservation areas including Woods Ferry, Swift Creek, and Camp Branch. Other areas that may interest you include Suwanee River State Park in Live oak and Stephen Foster State Park.

Main Attractions 

  • Beautiful and well-preserved areas
  • Lots of opportunities to view wildlife
  • White Springs

4.     Cold Water Creek

Although Cold Water Creek is more popular as a destination for canoeing aficionados, it is also a top destination for kayaking enthusiasts. The beautiful spring-fed creek features sandy rock bottoms and sandbars ideal for picnicking. There are a few homesteads scattered along the creek, but the area is mostly covered with scrub habitats, hammocks, and ancient pine and hardwood forests. The creek is the fastest in Florida and moves at a brisk pace, but is still convenient for paddlers of different levels of experience. Kayaking rentals are available at the recreational area.

Main Attractions 

  • Ancient pine and hardwood forests
  • Sandy rock bottoms
  • Sandbars

5.     Cedar Key

For a change of scenery from the hordes of tourists and asphalt jungles, head to Cedar Key. Located near the Gulf of Mexico, Cedar Key is a quaint fishing village that offers one of the best kayaking experience. You will enjoy an experience that involves paddling to the historic Island of Astana Otie, an ancient Native American water trail. At the island, you will get the opportunity to look for Native American artifacts such as pottery and arrowheads. The wildlife experience offered by Cedar Key is distinctively unique, with numerous opportunities to spot blue herons, eagles, osprey nests, Leatherback turtles, and even dolphins.

Main Attractions 

  • Pink and purple-hued sunsets.
  • Lots of opportunities to experience wildlife
  • Ideal for bird watching

6.     John’s River

With crystal clear waters flowing between Blue Springs and Deland, and a high population of West Indian Manatees, John’s river offers an experience like no other. Starting at Blue Springs State Park, the paddling trail follows the Blue Springs that flow into John’s River. You will be very glad to know that during your trial, you’ll pass by a manatee refuge at Hontoon Island. Canoe and kayak rentals are available here. The swimming and picnic areas in this park are very much attractive to look at.

Main Attractions 

  • Manatee Refuge
  • Crystal-clear waters
  • Amazing swimming and picnic areas

7.     Everglades

If you are looking to experience a trail that features completely different flora, fauna, and wildlife, the Everglades is the choice for you. Starting at Everglades City, head out into the famous swamps for a chance to experience turtles, alligators, and ancient mangrove forests. For beginners, take the 5-mile Sandfly Island Loop Which runs from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, across Chokoloskee Bay and back through mangrove forests. You should be able to do this within a day. If you are a dedicated paddler, take Wilderness Waterway along the west of Everglades national park all the way to Flamingo. Kayak rentals and camping facilities are available in this region and the trip will take you anywhere from 4 to 5 days.

Main Attractions

  • Distinct flora, fauna, and wildlife
  • Trails for both beginner and experienced paddlers
  • Mangrove forests

8.     Wekiwa Springs

Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka offers an awesome alternative to its big theme counterparts with its beautiful sandy bottom and swimming area. The 16-mile wekiwa River gives you a real adventure on the edge of a big city (Orlando).

Main Attractions 

  • Stunning views of century-old trees
  • Provides a beautiful and peaceful stretch
  • Laidback currents and an appealing breeze


There is something for everyone in Florida’s top kayaking destinations. So, whether you enjoy bird watching, experiencing wildlife, snorkeling, scuba diving, or just want to experience the crystal-clear waters and moss-covered limestone and Cyprus banks these destinations are for you. You don’t need to worry about owning a kayak, kayaking drysuit, or finding accommodation since kayak rentals and accommodation are provided in all of the above destinations.


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