If you are visiting Sarasota and Siesta Key for an extended period —or if you live here—you have the perfect opportunity to try kayaking in a variety of venues. Each of these locations has been named a favorite of area paddlers—which is your go-to place to launch a kayak?

Everyone has a favorite spot to put out into the water, but these five locations routinely get rave reviews from visitors and locals alike.

where to launch a kayak in Sarasota

Launch a Kayak for a New Way to Explore

  1. Jim Neville Marine Preserve: Located at the southern end of Siesta Key, the Preserve offers many inlets surrounding 35 acres of protected land. From tropical bird nesting locations to remote stretches of water-access-only sand, there is much to explore and discover. Located between Siesta Key and mainland Sarasota County, the marine preserve is one of the area’s most beloved settings to launch a kayak for those who love nature and marine wildlife.
  2. South Lido Beach Park: Located at the southern end of Lido Key, this popular park is enclosed by four separate bodies of water—the Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. Visitors can take in views of the downtown Sarasota Skyline and expansive Gulf vistas. South Lido Beach provides a shady picnic area, grills, restrooms, nature trails, and a marked canoe/kayak trail.
  3. Myakka River State Park: One of the region’s oldest and most scenic parks in Florida is actually located approximately 13 miles inland. This oasis of Old Florida flora and fauna offers iconic views of towering palm trees and aged oak tree hammocks. You will be treated to fantastic birdwatching opportunities, but be warned, before you head out in a kayak – you will likely be sharing the waters with alligators. In fact, Myakka is home to one of the largest gatherings of gators in the area. Be sure to speak with on-site guides and rangers before setting out for a kayaking adventure. By understanding some basic rules, you can be assured of a safe and fascinating experience.
  4. South Creek Trail at Oscar Scherer State Park: Located in one of the area’s most visited state parks, the South Creek Trail immerses you in Florida’s natural ecosystem. You’ll get two experiences on this trail. First, start paddling on a freshwater stream that moves slowly through forested wetlands and swamps toward the Gulf of Mexico. Then smell the change in the air as you approach the Gulf’s saltwater environment, and a new ecosystem – complete with saltwater plants and marine life – emerges.
  5. Bayfront Park: Kayak or not, Bayfront Park (also known as Island Park) is easily one of the most visited spots in Sarasota. Expansive green space makes up the bulk of the park, which is surrounded by Sarasota Bay. There are easy entry points along the sandy shoreline to hop into your kayak, and the experience offers gorgeous views of both the bay and downtown. Stay close to shore to see fish, birds, and fishermen, or venture a bit further out to glide your kayak under the spectacular John Ringling Bridge and up towards Lido Key. When you return to shore, there are picnic areas, a playground, and a tiki bar/restaurant to enjoy while watching the sunset – making this a great place to kayak with kids.

Be Sure to Add Kayaking to Your Itinerary

When visiting Sarasota and Siesta Key, a few things automatically make the list—such as visiting Siesta Key Beach. But don’t let your vacation pass you by without exploring our natural beauty in one of our favorite ways—from the deck of a kayak. When you launch a kayak, you open up a whole new perspective.

Ride and Paddle rents kayaks, bicycles, and beach gear for the best vacation of your life. Call today to learn more and make your plans!