19 Best Rivers to Kayak in Florida

Florida State has several navigable rivers to Kayak. It is a paddler’s paradise, and the best way to have a memorable voyage is by kayaking the Florida Rivers.

These rivers offer an array of paddling opportunities for both newbies and experienced Kayakers. Every year, more and more people are heading to the rivers for kayak tours.

The tours are enjoyable, great for exercise, and have wonderful tropical adventures!

Florida has some of the best rivers to kayak while vacationing or having a kayak outing event outside the state. These rivers offer a better place ad scenic to try something new with utmost pleasure.

Besides, Kayak river paddling is excellent and very exotic trip that anyone would enjoy.

The best rivers to Kayak in Florida are:

1. Kayak Blackwater River

It is one of the best rivers with a forest of a densely populated canopy that moves sideways as you sidestroke your kayak. Blackwater River covers a trail of 31 miles and flows through the thick river state forest. When you are kayaking through the canopy which forms over the river, it makes everything seem different.

It is fun to kayak the river, and you are not worried to kayak yourself giant waves and being tossed around. These attributes make it easy to paddle and beginners friendly.  Besides, their several wildlife to watch which includes deer, turkeys, and bobcats. If you are lucky enough, you will get a chance to watch the Mississippi kites.  The river has strategic kayak boarding and offloading points, which shorten paddler’s trips. At night, get out of your tent and camp at white sandbars along the river beds.

2. Kayak Chipola River

The Kayak trip starts at State Road 166 Marianna Bridge for a 51-mile boat paddling adventure. Here, you will kayak through the swamps and hardwood forests. It is a beautiful adventure. Imagine waking in the shallow muddy swamp and pushing the kayak from the mud into the river during a low water period. As such, the river is suitable for intermediate or experienced paddlers.

There are notable landmarks such as Limestone bluffs and caves, which are visible from a distance, and add a unique experience for tourists visiting the river.

Other features include shoals during low water. Paddlers to look out for the Look and Tremble shoal located below State Road 274 Bridge as you approach Blountstown and portage. You will enjoy spending the whole day kayaking across the river and taking in the exotic scenery and water.

3. Kayak Wakulla River

The river is a birder’s paradise. The 10-mile Clearwater River is home to several water birds species such as the cormorant, limpkin, osprey and gallinule, Anhinga, and more. Do not forget to carry a birdwatching binocular during the kayak trip.

Prepare yourself for a kayaking journey of about six miles from Wakulla Springs State Park to discover ad rediscover the beauty of boating while watching birds. 

Wakulla Spring of south Tallahassee is the major water source for the river. The other water animals to expect during your stay at the river area with turtles and otters. However, Manatees are preset during warmer months of the year. Here is a list of places where you can Kayak with the Manatees in Florida:  Places you can kayak with manatees in Florida?

4. Kayak Suwannee River

The Suwannee River originates from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. It is a 207 miles river meandering through varied terrain and vegetation to the Gulf of Mexico in the city of Suwannee.

Though it has a long stretch, it boasts of several access points for launching a kayak. If you don’t have a kayak, there are several outdoor adventure operators where you can rent a kayak at a fee. These access points along the trail make it easier to have a customized kayaking trip.        

Visitors get a chance to see an array of trees along the sandy beaches. The Suwannee River songs and whispers are from the oaks, pines, palmettos, and tall cypress as if they noticed your presence. 

The best place for all types of paddlers, such as young and old, beginner, intermediate, and experienced is found in the upper Suwannee.     

Big Shoals kayaking is fast becoming one of the most popular adventure sports in the Suwannee River. However, it is recommended for experienced paddlers. The river is a class III rapids I Florida and that is just a few minutes away from causing Kayak injuries to learners.

For safety measures, paddlers to wear their personal floating devices or lifejackets before embarking on a kayaking journey.  

This is a difficult section of the river is 75 miles from the Roline boat ramp near the Georgia border, ends at Suwannee River State Park. It is the best place for Kayak springs in the Florida states. There are over 70 sprigs along the river, with the majority located in the middle region.

The river offers excursions customized to the clients, and here, you get small and large Kayaks, and short and long excursions ad the most entertaining trails.

5. Kayaking Ichetucknee River

The best way to traverse the Santa Fe River from Fort White with a kayak is via Ichetucknee River. The journey is about six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands. 

This river offers an opportunity to kayak a spring-fed stream which makes it crystal clear ad you can see the debris underneath. The headspring of the river is a national landmark that attracts tourists ad locals equipped with binoculars to get a better view of the flowing water.     

If you are a kayak enthusiast and enjoy small and large rivers, whether short and long excursions, Ichetucknee River offers the best place to kayak in Florida from May to early September. Kayaking is a premier tourist activity for the area attracting many paddlers yearly. 

Besides, there are plenty of other sceneries ad wildlife in the area. The present activities are snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing.   For picnic pleasure, Ichetucknee Springs State Park offers tables and grills. However, food and drinks are prohibited in the river to help protect the sprig. Also, don’t forget to carry your best kayak lifejacket for personal protection.

6. Santa Fe River

What a beautiful river trail to enjoy a kayak outing with loved ones. Begin your kayak cruise at O’Leno State Park. The fun starts here, as you load your kayak into the way, stay calm ad observe the Santa Fe as they prop up from the underground.  

Santa Fe River is a tributary of the Suwannee River with an array of beautiful water features. Kayakers traversing the river pass through hardwood hammocks, and sometimes little swamps. At the swamp, prepare your camera for the water birds as they wade through the muddy vegetation. 

The river gets its water from a number of sprigs making the water clear. The river is navigable by kayaker’s better part of the year. However, during low water volume, shoals are preset which paddlers must circumnavigate. The shoal can be a scare for first-time Kayakers, though, they are passable.  You are reminded to have your personal floating device pdf for ow safety.

7. St. Mary’s River

St. Mary’s River offers paddlers a chance to kayak between hardwood forests from Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. The river has several features which will adrenal, such as snow-white sandbars. The sceneries provide a perfect opportunity to capture stunning photos.

It is paramount to have a waterproof kayaking backpack that can keep the kayaking essentials materials safely. Camera and binocular for site viewing along the river to be safe all the time.

Last time, a friend was astonished at the view of Cypress and tupelo trees hosting several bird species. He had a field day growing his bird’s list, and new lifers recorded as well.

Look above your shoulder for a chance to spot a bald eagle. Also, be keen on the movement underground for a lifetime opportunity to spot the otters. Other surprises at the rivers are the beaver and the rare opportunity for a black bear.  

It has a 60-mile trail for paddlers to navigate. Besides, there are several access points that Kayakers can choose from to launch their craft. The river has a gentle current which makes it suitable for all paddlers with different paddling skills.

8. Ocklawaha River

his 110 miles river offers one of the best places to Kayak in Florida. Several rivers from surrounding Florida serve the river. What’s makes it ideal for paddlers is the ability to Kayak along the edge of the Ocala National Forest.

The 110-mile journey will lead you to Cross Florida Greenway that terminates at St. Johns River near Palatka. To catch a glimpse of the rising mists, Paddlers plan for early morning kayaking. The journey will lead through the semi-tropical forests and moss-draped trees.

The river has designated undisturbed sections for wildlife that includes bobcats, deer, and black bears. Also, prepare to spot the otters as they cross the river.

9. Withlacoochee River (South)

The South Withlacoochee River is the ideal place for Kayak. It has overhanging limbs which form a lacy canopy. You have a lifetime opportunity to enjoy the 83 miles trail spotting variety of sceneries ad wildlife.

Kayaking Withlacoochee River in Florida lets you create your adventure while escaping the responsibilities you have left behind. It provides a safer place to paddle twists and bends through lush cypress swamps, hardwood, and pine forests.

You can also hike, camp, fish, bird watch, and get up close with the mammals like otters. Camping services are available at Silver Lake Recreation Area. It the navigable throughout the year. However, during dry seasons, paddles will encounter logs and hyacinth jams and can be frustrating for the better part of the expedition. It has several access points to launch the boat ad you choose what type of a paddle journey to go for.

10. Homosassa River

The Homosassa River covers a short distance and is best for paddlers having a workout break. It meanders into the Gulf of Mexico. The river source is located at crystal clear sprig found Homosassa Springs Wildlife, State Park.

What a lovely place to watch the Manatee in Florida. The West Indian Manatee species gathers at the constant 72-degree headwaters ad attracts thousands of tourists around the world. 

As a paddler, you have an added advantage to capture great photos of the Manatee on your Kayak. At this spot, paddlers move at a leisurely pace enjoying every moment of the journey.

There are several spots of small mangrove islands and saltwater grassy flats. Though short, you will have a relaxing trip possible as you enjoy your surroundings. 

If you want to enjoy watching the Manatee kindly read this article: Where to kayak with manatees in Florida

11. Indian River Lagoon

No matter how long you would like to go, whether it be one, two, or seven days, there is much wonderful experience in kayaking Indian River Lagoon in Florida. It stretches over 156 miles from Florida’s East Coast from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

While Jupiter Inlet is considered North America’s most diverse estuary, the river has seen most tourists trying their Kayak for the first. While others are experienced, some are moderated paddlers returning for more fun. 

Paddlers enjoy varied weather consisting of tropical and subtropical climates with several diverse plat ad animal species. 

It is one of the best places in Florida to watch the manatees. It is a migratory route for mammals, ad it provides the perfect opportunity for kayaks paddlers to have some great short of the monumental journey.

Besides, there are several watersports activities, such as Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge paddling premiere. 

If you intend to participate in one of these Premier paddling opportunities along the lagoon, equip yourself with kayak safety gear such as a Kayak helmet to protect your head from external injuries that result from kayak accidents.  In most cases, you will have smooth rides.

But, beware of strong winds and waves, which can make paddling a cumbersome sporting activity. It is advisable to consults the local weather reports to know when to venture into the water.

12. St. Sebastian River

St. Sebastian River is located on the East coast in Florida Vero Beach. Kayaking the arrow river at its source can be difficult due to thick vegetation. Kayaking becomes easy as you move further from the source.

It is a habitat for peaceful manatees and can be spotted while on a kayak. The submerged branches offer the best places to spot these mammal’s when paddling. They often come out to feed on the leaves.

In the beginning, your journey can be winding with several underwater logs ad braches. However, as you paddle further away, kayaking gets easy and fun.  

The river and its environment have many wildlife and bird species. In your list of a must-watch is the manatee, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker, southern bald eagle, bobcat, river otter, deer, and turkey. Water bird species are present thus prepare your binocular to give a better view of wading birds, including wood storks and roseate spoonbills.

13. Hillsborough River

Originates from the City of Tampa’s Rowlett Park. It is a 31-mile trail ad terminates in the Tampa Bay area. This river offers paddlers the opportunity to a have glimpse at White ibises. These creatures often spend most of the time resting on the limbs of water oaks. The oaks are always draped in Spanish moss.

Other than Kayak’s paradise, it is also a sanctuary for birds. Here, you will watch the pileated woodpeckers. These birds are always perched high in the pine trees. Wild animals such as the bobcats explore the clustered lilies.           

Other sections are suited for beginner paddlers such as the north section of the river. Intermediate paddlers can find solace through the middle of the channel. Experienced paddlers can venture into the south section of the river which preset the opportunity of riding high winds and waves. Several motorboats are serving this section and kayaks owners to be o the lookout for a possible collision.

14. Little Manatee River

The river has steep banks, and paddlers should use the designated access points along the river. Besides, it has a sandy bottom which is good news for paddlers fearing muddy rivers. The 7-mile river is best for short-distance kayaking in Florida.

The river has several animals, but if you want to spot the Manatee, this is the place to go kayaking. It has different habitats, including pine scrub, willow marsh, and hardwood forest. The other animals to look for while kayaking the Little Manatee River in Florida are otters and turtles. The birds of prey available are the eagles that will be soaring overhead.

15. Myakka River

The river drains into Charlotte Harbor but offers the best all-around paddling experience for paddlers. Besides, the mouth provides a very fertile ground for Kayak fishing with an array of fish species. The 60-mile terrain offers a good site for trainees wishing to travel through the Myakka River State Park. 

The best route to navigate is the 6 miles loop in Upper Myakka Lake. For bird watchers, this is an ideal ground for spending memorable time spotting and photographing birds.

Beginners should avoid traveling the entire stretch as it poses several challenges. However, there are areas not accessible to a large number of Kayakers at the same. These designated areas can take up to 30 people and are under rangers. There is no fun kayaking without experiencing Little Salt Spring and Warm Mineral Spring.

16. Peace River

As the name suggests, this is the serene and slow-moving river. Be prepared to Kayak lonely for the better part of the journey. It offers a 67 mile stretch from Ft. Meade to Arcadia.

The topography of the river varies from source to destination. It passes through high banks, steep slopes ad wide the banks as it moves to the destination.

I between you will pass through shallow places as you move to the Islands. At this point, the river has several creeks. It provides good camping sites comprising of sandy beaches ad sloping banks.

17. Loxahatchee River

It is regarded as Florida’s first National Wild and Scenic River. This is a river of Tuttle as suggested by the name.

It gives Kayakers the opportunity to traverse the sub-tropical environment that comprises the swamp, bald cypress, pond apple, orchids, and ferns line.  Birders or kayakers have a chance to watch the overflying Osprey, heron, and other birds. The trip is complete without visiting the trail’s terminus in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. It lies a few miles south of Stuart.

18. Oleta River

Visit this river if you want to Kayak in the park. Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in Florida ad covers over 1,000 acres. The river provides a Kayaking opportunity for both beginners and experienced paddlers. 

It is also one of the best rivers to spot the manatees and Frolicking porpoises. However, this river experiences High winds and waves, which makes paddling challenging for starters. 

Paddlers to know the status of weather conditions before undertaking kayak and related activities. If you plan to spend over, make a reservation for the available Rustic, air-conditioned cabins a www.reserveamerica.com

19. Aucilla River

This river has several limestone banks and canopy along the channels. The river drains into the Gulf of Mexico after a 75 miles journey.  Nevertheless, it has about 25 miles that kayakers can enjoy with the remaining miles rendered non navigable.

The beautiful part is that the river has rapids and shoals for greater kayaking entertainment. Beginners are advised not to venture into the river by themselves but to have experienced paddlers along.

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