The Sunshine State has thousands of miles of coastline – and almost as many great spots to put in for a family paddle.
By Liliia DeCos
Like everyone, the pandemic has changed our traveling – big time. We usually travel internationally with our daughters – in fact, we were in Mexico at this time last winter. This year, we’ve had the opportunity to explore America and have been thrilled to discover so many active and natural experiences within the Continental U.S.
Truth be told, we never thought of Florida as an adventure destination. The big attractions you always hear about are visiting the Everglades, driving to Key West, partying in Miami, and going to Disney World in Orlando. Something like “kayaking” doesn’t usually come up.
Turns out, Florida is a kayaker’s paradise! We’ve paddled in spots all around the world and after our tour of the state, we believe the variety and quality of experiences make the Sunshine State stack up against just about any other place we’ve kayaked.
We have spent the last few weeks of winter circumnavigating the state by car. Overall, we’ve had a great road trip, seeing friends and getting outside in nature. The temperature has only been in the 60s F, which locals say is chilly for January but compared to the Northeast, we think it feels great. You don’t get too hot paddling but it’s a bit chilly to swim.
Though Florida has had a reputation in the media for being a bit reckless in terms of following Covid-19 protection guidelines, we haven’t seen that at all during our stay. Everyone we’ve met has been wearing a mask. In fact, at some family attractions, masks are even required for kids over 2 years old. And because all businesses are open, Florida really feels like you’re getting a break from the pandemic.
But back to the paddling: We have found it so amazing that we added “Kayaking in Florida” to ROAM’s picks for 21 Covid-safe Family Adventures for 2021.
There are kayak rentals available pretty much anywhere you’d want to put in. And the prices are reasonable – around $25-$35 per day. But we actually packed our own inflatable kayaks in our car because we knew we were going to be doing a lot of kayaking. These boats have proved themselves invaluable again and again. If you are into kayaking, I’d highly recommend investing in some.
Now where to go?! Florida’s a big state, only trailing Alaska in miles of coastline, so there are hundreds of places to kayak. We are only halfway through our trip right now but the list below contains our favorite spots.
Best Places to Kayak in Florida
- Lovers Key State Recreation Area, north of Naples – This was a great place to cruise around with friends and enjoy the beautiful views.
- Oleta State River Park, Miami – This spot had the best kayaking trail through the mangroves, not too far from downtown Miami.
- Indian Key Historic State Park, near Islamorada in the Florida Keys – This was a truly extraordinary experience! We kayaked to an island, took a stroll among 19th-century ruins, learned some history, enjoyed the view and kayaked back.
- Shell Key Preserve, near Saint Petersburg – We actually kayaked there and camped overnight! It was primitive camping but the hassle is so worth the experience!
- 7 Sisters Springs, an hour north of Tampa – Here’s where we met a whole family of manatees!!! It was a once in a lifetime experience – so incredible and sooooo beautiful!
Liliia DeCos – January 2021
Originally from Ukraine and now based in Spain, Liliia has traveled literally across the world with her husband Jose and their two young daughters. Follow their intrepid walkabouts at bring_baby_abroad and see Liliia’s amazing photos on Instagram at bring_baby_abroad or on ROAM where she won Best Family Photo of 2019.
© ROAM Family Travel 2021 – All rights reserved
Fun in Florence, Newport & Cannon Beach
How to get RVs, resort pools, chef dinners, and more
Granada, Seville, and Córdoba—and much more
Art! Architecture! Parks! Garlic fries!
A day-by-day recap of one family's Alpine trek
Get a taste of the REAL Provence
Beach bliss, leaf-peeping & Zoomcations
90 miles of coastline. 1 stunner of a weekend.
Discovering San Francisco's incredible street art
A weekend of adventures near Oakhurst