Mangrove Tunnels of South Lido Key

mangrove tunnels of sarasota bay

Mangrove Tunnels of South Lido Key

Adventure Kayaking You Won’t Soon Forget

Sarasota is most notably recognized for its beautiful beaches, warm temperatures and breathtaking sunsets. Vacationers flock to Sarasota in the winter and summer seasons to enjoy all that the community has to offer from our rich, cultural history and exquisite dining to the area’s architectural wonders. However, when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, nothing says “adventure” like a kayaking trip through the mangrove tunnels of South Lido Key Beach.

What Are Mangroves?

mangrove kayaking tour in sarasotaMangroves are tropical plants that have adapted to the loose, wet soils of our coastline, as well as salt water and tidal surges that frequent Lido Key. There are more than 50 species of mangroves throughout the world, with 3 species that are native Florida:

White Mangroves are the most common species and are easily recognized by their smooth-barked trees with clusters of small orange flowers that are very fragrant. The White Mangrove can grow in excess of 16 feet and produces mangrove fruits that were a common staple of nourishment to the Aboriginal people thousands of years ago. The fruit is highly toxic, but the toxins are easily removed by burying the fruit in mangrove mud for 3-7 days. Once boiled or roasted, the fruit is ready to eat with no worries. Futhermore, mangrove tree branches can be burned to repel sandflies!

Why Are They So Important?

You might think to yourself, “Well, why are mangroves so important? Aren’t they just trees?” Well, yes, they are trees. However, mangroves and mangrove tunnels are extremely important to both humans and marine life for a number of reasons:

  • The distribution of the mangrove community in ...
    The distribution of the mangrove community in Florida is shown in red. Cedar Keys and Ponce de Leon Inlet are the northern limits of the mangrove community. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Provide nursery areas for young fish and crustaceans, safe from deep waters and large predators.
  • Serve as an important source of nutrients for the marine ecosystem.
  • Act as shelter to their inhabitants.
  • Are a barrier to coastal erosion, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis and flood waters.
  • Provide us with many benefits such as:
    • Seafood
    • Fruits
    • Medicines
    • Fiber
    • Wood

With so much to offer, Mangroves have been a highly regarded part of Sarasota’s aquatic ecosystem and have played a major role in the conservation of our coastline.

Kayaking the Mangrove Tunnels of Lido Key

Among the many benefits of Mangrove’s, they also offer up a great opportunity for kayakers looking to explore Lido Key from a unique perspective. Lido Key is home to miles of Mangrove forests, twisting and turning to create beautiful, canopied mangrove tunnels, serving as a natural habitat to various plants, birds and marine animals.

When kayaking the mangrove tunnels of Lido Key, you can expect to see:

  • mangrove tunnels in Sarasota on Lido KeyManatees
  • Dolphins
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Mangrove Crabs
  • Sea Stars
  • Sea Urchins
  • Osprey
  • White Egrets
  • Comorants
  • Pelicans

And that’s just to name a few.

The experience itself is worth the trip, giving you an up close and personal look into the heart of Florida’s mangrove forests and the many surprises they hold within.

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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!

Sarasota Kayaking Adventure Video Pt 2

looking out over the water of lido key

Watch the next part of our kayaking adventure video where we travel through the famous mangrove tunnels of Lido Key!

The mangrove tunnels are always a highlight of the kayaking tour.  Everyone loves gliding into the mangrove forests.  They are nice and quiet and cool and calming.  Kids and parents alike love exploring these little hidden channels and catching the wildlife that lives in the water and on the mangroves.

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.

There are lots of animals that live in the mangroves.  One is the mangrove crab.  We saw lots of these.  They are small black crabs that live in the mangroves and eat plant matter that collect on them.  They look a little bit like spiders but don’t be afraid, they won’t jump at you!

We also saw starfish.  A big one and a little one.  There is lots of wildlife in the mangroves, I’ll share more with you again soon!