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Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, sunshine, palm trees, theme parks, and even oranges. However, it is also home to diverse, natural landscapes, including reefs, bays, forests and paddling trails. While this list has narrowed down five kayaking destinations, it is important to remember that there are far more than five great places to paddle in the Sunshine State. From serene rivers and overhanging trees to remarkable activities, Florida has a kayaking experience for adventures of all kinds. Here are five of the top Florida destinations for kayaking.

Rainbow River

This freshwater river is the fourth largest spring in Florida, and according to archaeological evidence, people have been using it for about 10,000 years. While you float or paddle through moss-draped cypress trees, look through the crystal clear water for stunning aquatic views, limestone formations, and abundant wildlife. Rainbow River is a popular attraction for kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and swimming.

Cedar Key

Cedar Key is a small, old-fashioned attraction. Full of appealing beaches, nature preserves, and fishing opportunities, this vacation area is big on relaxation. Spend the day kayaking to Atsena Otie– part of the water trail used by Native Americans, or plan your timing for the sunset. Government wildlife agencies protect the surrounding mangrove forests, so keep an eye out for osprey, blue herons, and eagles.


Rent a kayak in Everglade city and head out into the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Waterway. This 5-mile paddle is a good start for beginners and is easily done in a day. During your journey, you’re sure to see alligators, turtles, and ancient mangrove forests. For more serious and dedicated kayakers, enjoy the 100 miles of Wilderness Waterway along the west side of Everglades National Park; this trip takes about five days and has camping facilities along the trail.

St. John’s River

This crystal clear river flows from Blue Springs in Deland and was designated a refuge area due to the large population of West Indian Manatees. Typically about 3.5 miles from Hontoon Island, the trip is worth the paddle. However, due to its status as a refuge area, the park is closed from mid-November to March 1st.

Ichetucknee Springs

These cold freshwater springs span the length of six miles offering what was dubbed “the clearest water in the world.” The head spring of the river was designated a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of Interior in 1972. The area is open all year round for kayaking, with seasonal tubing and swimming. During your trip, savor the striking rock formations, cypress forest, and wetland plants.