Kayak Rentals in Sarasota Florida

kayaks along the beach front of lido key

Kayak Rentals For Some Sarasota Fun!

Are you ready to hit the bay? How about taking a relaxing leisurely float down one of the many river routes that empty into gorgeous Gulf of Mexico? Maybe you have always wanted to go to Anna Maria Island, or see Longboat Key? Do any of these strike your fancy? If so, then kayak rentals and adventure might just be the perfect thing for you. If you aren’t sure how to go about planning the perfect kayaking trip, consider finding a good Sarasota kayak rental company first. A company that will not only provide you with the perfect transportation to enjoy scenic Florida, but will also plan your route for maximum enjoyment.

kayaks used for our kayaking tours
Kayaks all lined up under the Florida Sun

Planning your adventure is what renting a kayak from Bay and Gulf Adventures is all about. We will come up with the route that fits both your personality and desires, so that you experience the best kayaking trip ever. Whether it’s a tour of Lido Key and Siesta Key, or exploring the exotic mangrove tunnels, we can help you plan the perfect trip. It all starts with choosing the best Sarasota kayak rentals the Sarasota Bay area has to offer.

Sarasota, Florida is a hotbed for kayak rentals and there are a lot of different companies that will rent you a kayak, help you plan your trip or take you on guided tours. Then, there is going at it alone, renting a kayak without the aid of a company, without a plan and just winging it. While that can be fun, it can also make for some unforeseeable mishaps. The possibility of getting lost is very real, as is encountering dangerous wildlife. So, when it comes to having the perfect kayaking trip, you are much better off if you plan it out with a seasoned expert who knows where the best spots to see Sarasota’s wildlife, plant life and sea creatures are.

Sarasota kayaking tour guide Scott Whitehead
Me and my truck!

Bay and Gulf Adventures offers an array of  kayak rentals in Sarasota and is the best place to start your kayaking vacation. We will help you with all of the necessary arrangements so that you have memories that will last a lifetime.

Including Sarasota Kayaking in Your Florida Vacation

dolphin spotted on sarasota bay kayaking tours

Create Memories with Sarasota Kayaking Trips

Vacations are a blast and can be even better with a Sarasota kayaking trip. Coming up with exciting vacation activities is so much fun. From hiking, to sightseeing, to eating wild and original cuisine, there are always tons of options to choose from. However, for a fun and original way to spend a vacation, kayaking may be the most underrated way to have a great time.There are many locations nationwide that offer kayaking tours, but one of the best around is Sarasota, Florida. Florida is a great location to find many of nature’s wonders and a kayaking outing only adds to the pleasure.

Sarasota kayaking is something that’s been around for some time now. Sarasota offers wonderful scenery, complete with lush greenery and wild animals that highlight Florida’s rich, natural environment. Sightings of many animals including dolphins, manatees, great egrets, and ospreys can occur at any time while out on the trails and waterways of Sarasota.

A trip can be planned by yourself or by a professional vacation planning company to allow for maximum enjoyment and the ability to see all that Sarasota has to offer. Finding the right mix of vacation pleasures is very important when planning a kayaking trip to Sarasota, and there are many different kayaking vacation companies that can outline an entire trip for you. It is important to remember that not all kayaking companies are the same and it is best to do some research to find the best one that offers the best sightseeing, activities, and kayaking packages that you can find.

Osprey Near Robert's Bay, Sarasota
Osprey Near Robert’s Bay, Sarasota

For those that are looking for a little adventure in their vacations, it isn’t necessary to look any further than a Sarasota kayaking package. From shooting through mangrove tunnels, to leisurely cruises down a serene river, through beautiful scenery and vibrant wildlife, Sarasota has all that you could ask for in a kayaking vacation destination.

Giving yourself something to remember is what’s most important when on vacation, and a kayaking trip to Sarasota could be the memory of a lifetime. With all that Sarasota has to offer, do yourself a favor and book a fun, relaxing, memorable kayaking vacation now.

Sarasota Sea-Life From our Kayaking Adventure

Sarasota Sea-Life

Sarasota Bay is rich with plants and animals. The clear water attracts dolphins, manateers, cormorants, ospreys, all sorts of fish. You can also see smaller examples of sea-life like urchins. Most people, when they think of urchins think of the big black ones with the long spines that can sting you.  Well, I used to work at the Mote Aquarium, so I can show my kayakers a safer kind of urchin.

As we were kayaking through Sarasota Bay I found a full sized variegated sea urchin.  In order to find them you have to look for a collection of white shells on the bottom of the bay.  The urchins will throw a collection of shells on top of their spines to protect themselves.  This type of urchin does not sting and it has a nice, pretty purple color to it.

Sea urchins are members of the same animal family as starfish.  It’s true!  Sometimes I stump my groups with that question but this time one of my kayakers knew the answer right away.  And he was a landlubber from Kansas City!

When I picked up the urchin it had a bunch of shells on top of it and it let go.  If it had wanted to it could have held on to those shells because, if you look closely, you can see that sea urchins’ spines end in little suction cups, like the arms of starfish.  The spines are always moving.  When you touch one spine, all the others move towards the point of contact.  Sea urchins can move freely around the seabed.

After explaining more about sea urchins and warning my kayakers not to pick up just any old sea urchin they see, I passed the one I found around.  The kids had a good time making faces at the urchin for a while.  Then I returned him to the water.

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!

How to Choose a Kayaking Tour Company

kayaks along the beach front of lido key

Planning your own vacation can be stressful, let a professional kayaking tour provider help!

Imagine gliding through the waves in beautiful Sarasota Florida, the water rushing around you while you enjoy the fresh Florida sunshine. There is a reason why this is called the sunshine state! Enjoy beautiful scenery as you kayak down a river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico or among the islands and channels of Sarasota Bay. Figuring out the best trip, the most enjoyable kayaking vacation, is a matter of choosing the right company. Not all kayak companies are the same.

kayaks along the beach front of lido key
Kayaks used for tours lined up on beach.

If you are planning a vacation to Florida, hiring a good kayaking touring company can add to your vacation. There are some great locations throughout Sarasota Florida that you should definitely see on your kayak tour, these include Lido Key and Siesta Key. There are other locations like the Myakka River/Carlton Trail that are also wonderful kayaking tours in the Sarasota area.  You can plan your own tour, however you will still need to rent kayaks and unless you are intimately aware of the Kayak trails throughout Sarasota, it would be better to hire a company that can plan out the perfect trip for you.

Kayaking in Sarasota is a great way to relax and unwind, it gives you a chance to experience the beautiful Florida wild life, to breathe in that fresh air and spend some time enjoying the natural surroundings. Figuring out the best trails for your enjoyment is what the kayak tour companies do. They get to know you and what you would like then set you up with the perfect kayak adventure.  Sarasota has so much to offer, the wildlife that inhabits the areas on various kayaking tours include Dolphins, Manatee’s, exotic birds, and fish.

Osprey Near Robert's Bay, Sarasota
Osprey Near Robert’s Bay, Sarasota

Planning a vacation can be stressful, however it doesn’t have to be if you work with trained professionals who knows and understands the area that you want to visit.  A professional can help you make the most of your vacation by planning out the perfect kayaking adventure for you. Whether you are hitting the mangrove tunnels or just enjoying a leisure trip down one of the rivers they can figure out exactly what will work best for you and your family; helping to achieve the perfect vacation that you will remember for years to come. With all the sights and sounds of Sarasota calling you, a kayak adventure might just be the best way to go.

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!


Sarasota Kayaking Adventure Video: Pt 1

Watch my video of the cormorants we saw the other day.  You might even see one catching a fish!

Check out my earlier post on the cormorants we saw that day.

Cormorants are really cool birds.  The word “Cormorant” is a contraction probably derived from Latin corvus marinus, “sea raven.”  People thought that cormorants and ravens were related for a long time, but this is not the case.

Cormorants are medium-to-large seabirds. They range in size from the Pygmy Cormorant (12 oz), to the Flightless Cormorant (11 lb).  Most cormorants have mainly dark feathers, but some are black and white, and a few are very colorful.  Many species have areas of colored skin on the face which can be bright blue, orange, red or yellow, typically becoming more brightly coloured in the breeding season. Their bill is long, thin, with a sharp hook at the end for catching fish.

They are coastal rather than oceanic birds, and some have colonised inland waters.  They can be found all around the world, except for the central Pacific islands.

All cormorants are are fish-eaters.  They can also eat eels and some water-snakes.  To catch fish they dive from the surface of the water.  Under water they propel themselves with their feet.  Some cormorant species have been found, using depth gauges, to dive to depths of as much as 100 ft.

After fishing, cormorants go ashore, and are frequently seen holding their wings out in the sun.

Cormorants are colonial nesters, using trees, rocky islets, or cliffs.  Their eggs are a chalky-blue colour.  There is usually one brood a year.  When the eggs hatch the parents will fish for their young, then regurgitate the food for them.

Coolest fact about cormorants: The cormorant served as the hood ornament for the Packard automobile brand.


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!

Saturday Kayaking Adventure

Saturday Kayaking Adventure with Cormorants!

On Saturday I went kayaking with a group of 7 people.  2 families.  4 adults and 3 children.  It was a beautiful day!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather after all the rain here last week :(

We went kayaking around Sarasota Bay, Lido Key to be exact.  We launched from South Lido County Park and kayaked around Otter Key.

One of our first wild visitors was a cormorant.  These amazing birds have evolved into better swimmers than fliers.  They have undeveloped oil glands which mean their feathers becomes saturated in water and they can glide through the water more easily.

looking out over the water of lido key
Lido Key Launch Site

They love to swim all around our kayaks because when we are in shallow water our oars scare fish that live in the sea grasses that are only 1 or 2 feet below us.  When we scare the fish out of the grass the cormorants zip underwater to catch the fish.  It’s really cool to watch actually because they swim all around, under, and in between our kayaks looking for fish.  When they catch one they come to the surface, flip the fish around, and swallow it whole!

Cormorants can dive up to 100 feet.  They are present in most parts of the world and they are expert fishermen.

After some of the cormorants swimming around us had caught their fill, they flew into some nearby norfolk pines where we could hear them feeding their young.  It was really cool to see Nature at work.

Stay posted for the best part of our Saturday kayaking adventure coming up next!