Where to Kayak in Florida Without Alligators… Or with them!

As a Florida family, kayaking is one of our favorite things to do. Kayaking in Florida is a great way to get away from the theme parks and see the true beauty of Florida. There are also experiences like kayaking with manatees, and bioluminescence tours that can only be experienced here. These are our tips and tricks to make your Florida family kayaking trip amazing and memorable.

florida kayaking
King’s Landing
Limited Edition Florida Print – JellyPressStore

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Is it safe to kayak in Florida?

Yes! The first thing most people think of when considering kayaking in Florida is alligators. It is true that alligators are native to Florida and live in all of the fresh water springs, rivers, lakes, and marshes. Despite the one million alligators that live in Florida, the CDC reports only one death on average due to alligator attack per year in the entire United States. Chances of dying from lighting strike or hurricane are higher.

florida kayaking
King’s Landing

Most alligator fatalities are associated with wading, swimming, or snorkeling in fresh water. Walking small pets near fresh water is also higher risk.

Alligators are just as afraid of us as we are of them, so typically if a kayak enters an alligator area, they will duck below the water and hide. To stay safe kayaking in Florida, never confront or feed alligators, as they will change their behavior and approach kayaks more readily. Alligators are known to be more aggressive during mating season, which is April through June. Kayaking in the winter months in Florida is the best time to go, and also increases the likelihood that alligators will leave you alone.

florida kayaking
Kayaking in Jupiter, FL

Where to kayak in Florida without alligators?

If the idea of alligators in the water with you is just too much to handle, there are plenty of salt water kayaking options in Florida. The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail involves 26 segments extending from the Florida Panhandle to the Georgia state line, and is a great way to experience Florida kayaking in a salt water environment. Find the trail maps here: Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

florida kayaking
King’s Landing

If you would prefer to do a kayaking tour in a saltwater environment, here are some great options:

Florida State Park List – JellyPressStore on Etsy

North Florida:

Central Florida:

South Florida:

Where to kayak with manatees in Florida?

Blue Spring Print – JellyPressStore

Florida springs are the real star of Florida kayaking. The water is crystal blue, and the wildlife is stunning. Whether you choose to take a manatee kayak tour in Florida, or you choose to kayak in Florida with the manatees on your own, there are some really beautiful locations to choose from.

The best places to kayak with manatees in Florida are:

Weeki Wacchee State Park is the best place to go kayaking with manatees in Florida, especially for inexperienced kayakers. The brisk flowing water easily Carrie’s you down 6 miles of run, and shuttles will pick you up at the end dock. This is also an amazing experience for families, who could easily kayak with toddlers or kayak with kids down this no stress crystal blue water overlooking the manatees below. Get up and Go Kayaking provides clear kayak tours of this amazing area, or you can rent kayaks right in the park.

florida kayaking
Manatees in Weeki Wachi

Crystal River is well known as a great manatee spotting site, and leads to Three Sisters Spring, a beautiful kayaking site. This requires slightly more effort than Weeki Wachee but still can be done by inexperienced kayakers. Rentals and tours are available from Crystal River Kayak Company.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a hidden central Florida secret, located north of the Kennedy Space Center. The area is rich in wildlife, and has hiking, a beautiful driving trail, and amazing kayaking spots. Locals can come to Haulover Canal to see manatees in the winter, and several tour groups offer manatee kayak tours including Get Up and Go Kayaking.

florida kayaking
Kayaking in King’s Landing

Silver Springs is a great place to see manatees in the winter and is a family friendly kayaking destination, known also for its glass bottom boat tours and controversial rhesus monkey population. Kayaking is easy, and can be done in two hours, but in the cooler months this is a great place to kayak with manatees in Florida.

When is the best time to see manatees in Florida?

florida kayaking
Kayaking in King’s Landing

Florida springs are consistently 72-74 degrees, creating the perfect respite for manatees in the winter months. Manatees can be seen congregate in the Florida springs from late November to March. Certain springs around the state consistently attract large numbers of manatees, and the winter is really the best time to see manatees in Florida.

Where to see bioluminescence in Florida?

Take me to the River Sticker – JellyPressStore on Etsy

One of the coolest kayaking trips you can do is a bioluminescent tour in Florida. Dinoflagellates emit glowing light through a chemical reaction, and lead to an amazing night time kayaking experience. Titusville and Cocoa Beach are the two best places to see bioluminescence, not just in Florida but in the world. BK Adventure and A Day Away Kayak both provide the best bioluminescence tours in Florida and are highly recommended.

When is the best time to see bioluminescence in Florida?

It is best to take a bioluminescence tour in Florida from June to early October. The fall is more comfortable for kayaking, so September is a highly recommended month. If you are interested in seeing Comb jelly fish, they can be seen between November and May.

What to wear kayaking in Florida?

florida kayaking
Kayaking in King’s Landing

Florida is hot between April and October, and even during the winter months you are at risk of hot days. Winter is the best time to go kayaking in Florida. Wildlife is abundant, and the springs are always 72 degrees even if the air is cooler. We recommend sunscreen, bug spray, a good hat, and layers. Flip flops or watershoes are appropriate to wear when kayaking in Florida, as when getting in and out of the kayak your feet will get wet.

Waterlust is a Florida based brand that funds research and education regarding environmental conservation, and they have great clothing for kayaking.

See our other blog posts about Florida Travel!

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