Top 5 Kayaking and Paddleboarding Spots in Florida Keys

Top 5 Kayaking and Paddleboarding Spots in Florida Keys

There's nothing quite like the feeling of paddling through the tranquil turquoise waters of the Florida Keys. For water lovers looking to experience the Keys' beauty up close, the top five spots on this list offer some of the best kayaking and paddleboarding adventures around. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned paddler, you'll find picture-perfect settings to explore mangrove tunnels, spot marine life, and simply soak in the Keys' natural splendor from an unforgettable on-the-water perspective. Get ready to chart your course through island paradise.


  1. Bahia Honda State Park: Tucked away between Marathon and Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda State Park unveils a paddler's haven. With over 500 acres of shallow, crystal-clear waters, this tropical gem is a playground for playful dolphins, graceful manatees, and vibrant coral reefs. The family-friendly, calm waters make it an ideal spot for children to safely kayak or paddleboard. Launch your vessel from Sandspur Beach, Calusa Beach, or Buttonwood Beach, and immerse yourself in the surrounding natural beauty. Despite facing hurricane damage, renovations have ensured the park remains a delightful and secure destination. Paddling through the historic Bahia Honda Rail Bridge offers a fascinating glimpse into the Keys' past – a not-to-be-missed experience. With amenities like campgrounds and hiking trails, Bahia Honda guarantees an unforgettable day on the water.

Bahia Honda Rail Bridge

  1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State ParkLocated in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park stands as an underwater paradise. As the inaugural undersea park in the United States, it safeguards over 70 square nautical miles of vibrant coral reefs and marine life. While snorkelers and scuba divers revel in the company of angelfish and parrotfish, the park's mangrove forests offer a serene kayaking or canoeing experience. Launch from Cannon Beach, Mangrove Trail, or Far Beach for easy access. Camping options on land provide the opportunity for an extended stay. With calm waters near the mangroves, John Pennekamp is an excellent choice for families, especially with guided snorkeling tours for the kids. History enthusiasts will be captivated by the famous Christ of the Abyss statue, an underwater bronze sculpture near the reefs. Overall, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park caters to every outdoor enthusiast, offering unparalleled underwater scenery that makes it a must-visit destination in the Florida Keys.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef

  1. Curry Hammock State Park: Just northeast of Marathon lies the tranquil oasis of Curry Hammock State Park. Encompassing over 1,000 acres of land and water, this hidden gem is a paddler's paradise. As you navigate the shallow flats and seagrass beds, watch for stingrays gliding beneath your kayak and wading birds congregating along the shore. Launch areas at both Curry Hammock and Crawl Key make the park's pristine waters easily accessible. The calm environment makes Curry Hammock an ideal spot for families, ensuring a family-friendly atmosphere. When you desire a respite from nature, venture into Marathon for an array of dining options. Oceanfront campsites in close proximity allow you to extend your stay in this coastal haven. With its tranquility and access to water sports, Curry Hammock caters to every outdoor enthusiast.

Curry Hammock State Park

  1. Indian Key Historic State Park: Nestled in the vivid blue waters near Islamorada, Indian Key Historic State Park is a paddler's delight. Kayak or canoe through the twisting mangrove channels, encountering the remnants of a 19th-century settlement that once housed nearly 200 residents. Although the settlement met its demise in a Native American attack in 1840, the crumbling foundations and cisterns of old homes and buildings endure, creating a stark contrast to the lush tropical foliage. Paddling through these ghostly ruins transports you back in time. Launch sites at Indian Key Fill and Tea Table Key facilitate easy access to the park. Immersing yourself in this historical experience is enhanced by staying at one of the nearby hotels or resorts. Guided tours bring the park's rich stories to life, making it a captivating experience for history-inquisitive kids. However you choose to visit, Indian Key Historic State Park offers a vivid look at the region's past, awaiting discovery from the seat of a kayak.
Indian Key Historic State
  1. Key West: Night Kayaking and Urban Excitement: After a day of paddling through the mangroves and waters of the Florida Keys, head to lively Key West to cap off your adventure. As dusk falls, experience the magic of kayaking across bioluminescent waters that glow an eerie blue in the night. Key West has proven resilient despite the occasional storm, with well-maintained launch sites at Cow Key Channel, Garrison Bight Marina, and White Street Pier. Suitable for families, Key West offers a vibrant urban vibe with hotels, restaurants, bars, and kid-friendly activities. Wander through landmarks like Hemingway's former home which has been turned into a museum. After a relaxing post-paddle dinner, enjoy Key West's spirited nightlife before turning in at your hotel. The next morning you can further explore the mangrove estuaries or venture out into the open waters of the Gulf again if you please. With its iconic, free-spirited atmosphere, Key West makes a lively and memorable ending to a Florida Keys paddling getaway.

Key West florida kayaking

The Florida Keys are a true paddler's paradise. With their rich diversity of marine life, fascinating history, and stunning natural scenery, the Keys have something to offer every kayaker and stand-up paddleboarder. From underwater coral reefs teeming with colorful fish to peaceful mangrove tunnels to the lively streets of Key West, the top five paddling destinations highlighted here showcase the best of what the Keys have to offer. Each location has convenient launch sites, making it easy to explore these aquatic wonders. Whether you're looking for an adventurous kayaking trip amid shipwrecks and dolphins or a tranquil stand-up paddleboarding experience surrounded by mangroves, you'll find your perfect paddling experience in the Florida Keys. With so much to see above and below the water's surface, it's no wonder paddlers consider the Keys a paradise.

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