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Florida Kayaking

Kayaking Regulations & Safety
Those who use a canoe or kayak should be aware that the minimum safety requirements apply to them just like any other vessel. A wearable life jacket for each person on board and some sort of efficient sound producing device (such as a plastic whistle) are required by both U.S. Coast Guard and state law. In addition, navigation between sunset and sunrise requires that a white light is available, and is to be displayed in sufficient time to avoid a collision. The requirements for vessel registration will apply to any canoe or kayak that is propelled by mechanical means (electric or gas motors).

For more information on safe boating, visit our Safety section.

There's Great Kayaking in Florida
Kayaks have been popular watercraft in Florida for centuries. Our vast shallow waterways are ideal for these craft due to their ability to easily and quietly navigate the shallowest stretches of water.

Alafia River Paddling Trail, near Brandon (west coast)

Aucilla River Paddling Trail, east of Tallahassee

Blackwater/Royal Palm Hammock Creekin Collier-Seminole State Park near Marco Island

Bulow Creek Paddling Trail, Flagler Beach (northeast Florida)

Chipola River Paddling Trail, near Marianna (north Florida)

Coldwater Creek, near Milton (Panhandle

Jonathan Dickinson State Park - This lush habitat of swamps and mangroves is named after a man who was shipwrecked near the park in 1696. It includes a stretch of the Loxahatchee River and is a popular spot for canoes and kayaks.

Estero Bay & River Paddling Trail, near Estero (Ft Myers)

Econfina Creek Paddling Trail, near Panama City

Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area, just west of Lake Okeechobee

Hickey Creek Paddling Trail, near Fort Myers

Holmes Creek Paddling Trail, near Vernon (Panhandle)

Little Manatee Paddling Trail, east of Tampa

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - This 221-square mile park contains the most northerly portion of the Everglades and if you bring your own canoe, you can travel the 5.5 mile canoe trail.

John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area - Dania Beach's barrier island includes a scenic mangrove-lined creek that runs through the middle of the park. You can rent canoes to explore this stretch of land that connects on the northern tip to Port Everglades.

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park - Located at the north end of Singer Island near West Palm Beach, here you'll find mangroves and hammocks with winding flats available for kayaking and canoes.

Pithlachascotee River Paddling Trail, New Port Richey

Santa Fe River Paddling Trail, near Fort White

Yellow River Paddling Trail, near Crestview (Panhandle area)

Wacissa River Paddling Trail, Wacissa

Withlacoochee South Paddling Trail, Ocala

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection offers a website called Florida Greenway and Trails Guide This interactive site allows users to click a region to find canoe trails throughout the state.

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Florida Kayaking

Safety Tips
Paddlers need to follow the same safe practices as any other small boat operator. When paddling, you should:

  • Know how to paddle or swim in tremendous currents and be an experienced swimmer. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times.
  • Never paddle alone. Two kayaks with two kayakers each is recommended. Three kayaks with two canoeists each is even better.
  • Not overload the kayak; tie down gear; and distribute weight evenly.
  • Check your kayak for leaks.
  • Map a general route and timetable when embarking on a long trip. Arrange for your vehicles to be shuttled to the takeout.
  • When approaching rapids or low head dams, go ashore well upstream and check them out before continuing. Be aware of any dangers ahead. Steer clear of drop offs and dams. Carry your craft around low head dams.
  • Stay away from strainers. Strainers are river obstructions that allow water to flow through, but which block people and boats and could throw you from the boat, damage it, or trap your craft. Strainers may be found in the form of overhanging branches, log jams or flooded islands.
  • If kayaking on a lake, watch the weather and stay close to shore. Head for shore if the waves increase.
  • If the water is cold, take all necessary precautions to avoid hypothermia.

 

 

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