Kayaking in Florida – The 3 Hot Spots

sarasota kayaking tour clients

Kayaking in Florida

Top 3 Best Kayaking Adventure Spots

Kayaking in Florida is an adventurous, fun and exciting experience for anyone looking to enjoy all of the spectacular scenery that Florida has to offer. It’s summer time and there is no better place to relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the sandy beaches then Sarasota. In 2011, Florida drew the attraction of more than 85 million visitors with Sarasota accounting for a large percentage of those visits. Tourism is a major part of the economic model for Sarasota and with the #1 rated beach in the nation that comes as no surprise.

Aside from the perfect weather conditions, rich cultural and historical elements and absolutely breathtaking sunsets, kayaking in Florida has become a favorite past time and  “must have” for many summer visitors. With over 1,200 miles of coastline begging for exploration, it can be hard to pinpoint the best places for a kayaking tour. Here are some recommendations for the best Florida kayaking adventure spots right here in sunny Sarasota.

1. Lido Key

looking out over the water of lido key

Lido Key is actually a barrier island off the coast of Sarasota just south of the famous Siesta Key Beach. The island pays tribute to the rich history of Sarasota and is home to the one of the most recognizable plants in all of Florida; the mangrove. There are over 100 species of mangrove trees throughout the world, but you don’t have to travel to the far ends of the Earth to see them. Lido Key is home to some of the most beautiful displays of mangrove landscapes and kayaking in Florida’s Lido Key gives you the opportunity to see these magnificent trees and experience them in all of their glory. Kayaking through the mangroves include the mangrove tunnels which have been naturally created by the waterways and estuaries of Sarasota. The mangrove tunnels provide a natural habitat for various other plants and animals like the mangrove crab. There are  plenty of opportunity for those kodak moments as well. Here’s some more information about kayaking in Florida’s mangrove tunnels.

2. Myakka River State Park

river shot during myakka river kayaking tourSouthwest of Sarasota’s beaches lies Florida’s famous Myakka State Park, a highly desired stop for kayaking in Florida. The Myakka River is a 68 mile long waterway that stretches from Manatee County down to the Charlotte Harbor, a part of the Gulf of the Mexico. For kayaking adventures, there is a 12 mile stretch of the Myakka River that is specifically reserved for kayak tours. One of the most beautiful things about kayaking on the Myakka River is the abundance of wildlife that you are guaranteed to encounter along your journey. It’s not uncommon to see deer, wild boar, wild turkey, turtles, alligators and a many other types of natural wildlife. But the fun doesn’t stop on the river. For bird lovers, Myakka State Park offers attractions like the “Canopy Walk”, taking you 25 feet above the ground and into the tree tops, giving an up close and personal look into tree top inhabitants. For more information about Myakka River, read our Myakka River kayak tour introduction.

3. The Jim Neville Preserve

Kayaking Through Mangrove TunnelFor those cindering kayaking in Florida, the Jim Neville Preserve is a destination like no other. Covering a 35-acre protected area surrounding Sarasota’s Midnight Pass and Little Sarasota Bay, the preserve is host to a variety of plant and animal life, including manatees. We even had a manatee swim right under one our kayaks! The shallow waters of the preserve provide perfect conditions for these beautiful mammals and are wonderful memories for kayaking in Florida. In the winter months, migrating birds from all over the United States make there way to the Jim Neville Preserve, calling it home for the remainder of the winter. Kayaking the preserve takes you through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Siesta Key, emptying into Sarasota Bay. You can find more information about the preserve at our Jim Neville Preserve kayak tour page.

Kayaking in Florida is a great way to experience all that Florida has to offer, but can be a much more rewarding experience if you know the best places to kayak. So, pack your bags, grab your sunblock and head down to Sarasota for a Florida kayaking adventure you won’t soon forget. Be sure to check out our kayaking tour gallery for some great pictures!

Saturday Kayaking Adventure Continued: Mangrove Tunnels

mangrove tunnels in Sarasota on Lido Key

In addition to seeing cormorants we also went kayaking through mangrove tunnels on last Saturday’s adventure!

The mangrove tunnels are always a highlight of the kayaking trip.  Everyone loves gliding into the mangrove forests that are part of South Lido County Park and easing through the small channels that connect Sarasota Bay with a small lagoon in the park.  Its doubly nice because we get to explore these beautiful forests and we get a break from the sun.  It was hot on Saturday!

As I explained to our adventurers, these mangrove tunnels are man-made.  Back in the 50’s the residents of Lido Key had a terrible mosquito problem.  They brought in the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the problem.  What they found was a large freshwater lagoon in what is now South Lido County Park.  This fresh water lagoon was a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.  Then the Army Corps of Engineers came up with a really cool solution.  They cut narrow, winding channels between the bay and the lagoon.  The salt water from the bay filled the lagoon and since mosquitos can’t lay eggs in salt water, the mosquito problem was over!  Not only was the problem solved but the residents of Sarasota got these beautiful mangrove tunnels to explore and to show to visitors.

There are many channels to explore through the mangroves.  We went through three of them in our kayaks.

Two Visitors Kayaking through mangrove tunnels

There are tons of examples of wildlife that you can see in the mangroves.  Mangrove Crabs look like big black spiders but don’t be afraid, they won’t jump on you ;)  They live on the mangroves and eat some of the plant life that collects on their roots.  We saw two different starfish.  One was a baby, it was tiny.  We also saw a full grown one.  Both were yellow and pretty easy to pick out on the bottom of the channels.  Did you know that starfish can eat shellfish?  How is that possible – you ask?  What happens is they climb on top of the shellfish and apply pressure until the muscle holding the shell together gets tired and relaxes.  Once there is a crack in the shell the starfish exudes its own stomach and inserts it into the clam or muscle’s shell and eats it!  It’s a crazy way to get a meal but it’s worked for the starfish for a long time.

A lot of people ask me how I can tell the different mangroves apart.  I look at their leaves.  There are three types of mangroves; red, white, and black.  The red mangroves have big, long, pointy leaves that are a little bit yellow on the bottom.  The white mangroves’ leaves are round and have little black dots in them.  Those dots are pretty cool because that’s one way the tree uses to release the salt it picks up from the water it lives in.  The black mangroves’ leaves are small and narrow and are usually lighter on the bottom, almost like olive leaves.

We love kayaking through the mangroves in Florida.  More on mangroves and kayaking to come!