In Sarasota, water is everywhere – whether canal or lagoons, river or bay, this area boasts some of the most beautiful, natural waterways in the state. There is an abundance of native plants, trees, and amazing wildlife to be discovered as well, and kayaking is a fantastic way to experience them all. While everyone has a personal preference and a favorite trail, several locations have garnered the attention and loyalty of frequent kayakers. If you are a newcomer to kayaking or are visiting us for a few weeks, you’ll love this list of some of the most popular area kayaking spots.
6 Recommended Kayaking Spots
- Jim Neville Marine Preserve: Let’s begin on Siesta Key. Located just south of the Turtle Beach launch, the Jim Neville Marine Preserve offers clear waters and diverse wildlife, especially many varieties of waterbirds. If you love spotting great blue herons, pelicans, and bald eagles, be sure to put your kayak in at this Siesta Key favorite, aptly named after one of the nation’s most famous environmentalists. (Click to read more about the birds you may encounter on Siesta Key while paddling.)
- South Lido County Beach Park: Aptly located at the southern end of Lido Key – and facing Siesta Key directly across Big Pass – this park provides access to sandy beaches and picnic areas for when you want to take a rest from paddling. The park is also located adjacent to the entrance to the popular mangrove tunnels. One note – the currents in Big Pass may be tricky for novice paddlers. Kayakers should stay in calmer waters to the east of the park and not venture out into the Pass or Gulf. For kayak rentals or to learn more about conditions, give us a call.
- South Creek Trail: Located in Oscar Scherer State Park, South Creek Trail is a blackwater stream, which is a slow-moving channel flowing through swamps and wetlands toward the Gulf of Mexico. The trail begins as freshwater but winds towards an increasingly saltwater environment, allowing the paddler to immerse themself into diverse ecosystems.
- Myakka River State Park: Myakka River State Park is one the oldest and bucolic parks in the area, showcasing “Old Florida” palm trees and oak hammocks. The park offers spectacular bird watching with nearly 100 species of birds calling it home – as do white-tail deer, wild pigs, wild turkeys, bobcats, and otters. People often visit Myakka to experience alligator sightings, as the species is protected and plentiful in the preserve. (Check with the ranger station to see if a permit is required where you are launching). Other public launches close to the park include Snook Haven Park and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve.
- Phillippi Creek Levee Trail: Another option for a different kayaking experience is found on the northern banks of Phillippi Creek. The Phillippi Creek Levee Trail offers lush green landscapes that immerse you in a traditional Florida landscape, featuring the wildlife flourishing among the quiet residential neighborhoods you’ll be coasting through.
- Sarasota Bay: We’ll finish out this list with one of the most interesting kayaking spots in the area – Sarasota Bay. Launch from The Bay Park and explore our city from a different perspective – past the city skyline, along Bayfront Park and marina, or under the iconic Ringling Bridge. Kayaking the Bay gives you a unique view of Sarasota that you won’t soon forget. We also provide guided tours from this location.If you are visiting the area and love exploring and paddling, rent a kayak from Ride and Paddle and explore all of these favorite trails.
Ride and Paddle is a trusted one-stop source for kayak rentals, lessons, and tours in and around Siesta Key.