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Best Places

to Kayak in Tampa, Florida

Best Options and Reviews

Published May 26, 2022

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to spend a day in the Tampa, Florida area. Kayaking is a great option to enjoy Tampa’s natural beauty. There are plenty of great places to kayak in the Tampa area, and each offers something different.

I’ve got a list of some of the best spots for you to check out. Read on for information about some of the best places to kayak in the Tampa!

Best Places to Kayak in Tampa, Florida

Hillsborough River

Hillsborough River

Hillsborough River is a great destination for kayaking enthusiasts of all levels. With its gentle currents and scenic views, the river is perfect for a leisurely paddle or an adventurous journey.

But before you hit the water, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, be aware of the alligators that call the Hillsborough River home. These creatures are more interested in eating leeches than people, but they can still be dangerous if you’re not careful.

Other animals you might encounter include turkeys and hogs. These animals make their homes along the river, so be respectful of their territory.

Finally, remember to take all the necessary safety precautions before embarking on your kayaking adventure.

If you’re looking for a truly unique kayaking experience, consider renting gears. With a little preparation, you’re sure to have a great time paddling down the Hillsborough River.

Caladesi Island, Florida

Caladesi Island, Florida near Tampa FL

It is the perfect location to kayak in tampa for those who are looking for a tranquil place to spend their vacation. The Caladesi island is located just off of Tampa Bay and is accessible by canoes or kayaks.

When you get to the island, you will be amazed by the amount of activities that are available, including sunbathing, exploring mangrove forests, and searching for wildlife. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing, so don’t forget to bring your tackle box!

The kayaking route is an adventurous 3 miles that goes through the island’s protected area. This is an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of the island while getting some exercise.

Whether you are exploring for a relaxing or an adventurous trip, Caladesi Island is the perfect destination for you. With its convenient location just off of Tampa Bay and its variety of activities, Caladesi Island has something for everyone.

Rainbow River, Florida

Rainbow River, Florida

Rainbow River in Florida is one of the most beautiful place on Earth. The water is crystal clear with amazing visibility. You can see the bottom of the riverbed from the surface.

The wide banks along one side of the river allow for plenty of space to enjoy nature. There are few places where you can stop and get out your day started or end it properly.

The Rainbow River is a pristine river that flows through the heart of central Florida. It is one of the few remaining rivers in the state that has not been dammed or channeled.

The River produces more than 400 million gallons of water per day. It is a home to a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill.

Moreover, It is one of the best place for kayaking in Florida because of its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife.

Fort DeSoto Park, Florida

Fort DeSoto Park, Florida

Fort DeSoto Park is a paradise for kayakers of all levels of experience. With its many bayous, lagoons, and miles of coastline, there is no shortage of scenic paddling to be had.

For beginner kayakers, Mulley Key Bayou offers a calm and easy paddle through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. This route is perfect for those who want an introduction to kayaking.

For more experienced kayakers, Egmont Key offers a ten-mile long route that is sure to challenge and thrill. This paddle takes you past secluded beaches, mangrove forests, and wildlife-filled marshes – all while providing stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Fort DeSoto Park is situated at the southernmost tip of Pinellas County and is only a short drive from downtown St. Petersburg. The park is open year-round and provides a variety of activities for visitors. Camping, hiking, fishing are just some that you can enjoy while there; not to mention kayaking!

This makes it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some time on the water.

Alafia River, Florida

Alafia River, Florida in Tampa

The Alafia River is a beautiful body of water that winds its way through the Tampa Bay area. It is a popular spot for kayakers, as it offers both calm and challenging sections.

One of the best things about kayaking on this River is the variety of wildlife that you can see. The river is home to alligators, turtles, otters, and a variety of bird species.

Another great thing about kayaking on the Alafia River is the flexibility it offers. You can rent equipment and use a shuttle back, which allows you to return at your leisure. This is a great option for those who want to explore the area but don’t want to be tied down to a strict schedule.

The water conditions on the Alafia River can change frequently, so it is important to check with the staff at both launch sites before you embark on your kayaking adventure. They will be able to update you on the current conditions and let you know if there are any areas to avoid.

Little Manatee River

Little Manatee River

Little Manatee River is a beautiful place to paddle, with two sections offering different levels of difficulty and challenge.

The upper section of the river is perfect for those looking for a challenge. It can be tough, but it’s still manageable for kayakers with various levels of experience.

Meanwhile, the lower section is ideal for exploring and relaxing. It’s perfect for a leisurely paddle, and you can take your time enjoying the scenery.

If you’re looking for a scenic spot to launch your boat, look no further than the Little Manatee River State Park! For a small fee, you can launch your kayak right by the bridge, and staff will be on hand to help you find the best access points into the river system.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, the Little Manatee River is sure to offer an enjoyable experience.

Cockroach Bay Preserve, Florida

Cockroach Bay Preserve, Florida

Cockroach Bay Preserve is a state park located in Hillsborough County. This state park is more than just a named for an insect. It is best known for its horseshoe crab population.

The preserve also offers stunning views of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg. There are two water trails that kayakers can use to explore the area.

The trails are lined with mangroves, which provide shelter and food for many different types of wildlife. Fishing is also popular in the preserve, as there are many good spots for catching fish such as redfish, snook, and tarpon.

Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida (Outside of Tampa FL)

Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida

Weeki Wachee Springs is one of the state’s most popular natural attractions. The spring’s 70-degree water is a constant temperature year-round, and the area is home to aquatic wildlife like manatees and other fishes.

Weekdays are the best time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds, as the spring is a popular spot for thrill seekers on weekends. Boat trips are available daily, but there is a limited number per day due to its popularity.

Visitors from all over the world come to experience the beauty and excitement of this unique place. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing place to spend your vacation or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, Weeki Wachee Springs has everything.

Terra Ceia Preserve

Terra Ceia Preserve

The beauty of Terra Ceia Preserve is unmatched. A frog creek runs through this 2,000 acre preserve and provides a serene place for kayakers to try their skills without any worries about getting lost like other locations may have had in previous years.

There are also plenty of opportunity to see some of the most amazing wildlife that Florida has to offer. If you’re lucky enough you may even spot a manatee or a dolphin!

However, the best part about this preserve is the ability to see dolphins playing in the water or even coming up on shore to rest! This is an experience that you will never forget and definitely one that you should put on your bucket list.

Terra Ceia Preserve is a great place to spend an afternoon or even a whole day if you’re looking to explore everything.

Make sure to bring your camera so you can capture all the memories of your time spent in this magical place!

Lowry Park

Lowry Park

Lowry Park is the perfect place to enjoy the refreshing waters of Tampa with your family and friends! The location offers a variety of amenities including picnic areas, playgrounds for kids, and kayak launches.

In addition to all these great features, Lowry Park is conveniently located near downtown Tampa, making it the perfect place to have fun whether you’re a visitor or a local.

Weedon Island Preserve, Florida (Outside of Tampa, Florida)

Weedon Island Preserve, Florida

Weedon Island Preserve is one of the best places to go kayaking in Tampa. With 4 miles of South Paddling Trails, it is perfect for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. The views from small islands throughout Tampa Bay are breathtaking.

You can see mangroves forests, seagrass flats, and much more while you paddle through Island. It is an experience like no other.

With a natural landscape and beautiful scenery, this trip will leave you feeling like you are in paradise. A place with stunning views, perfect for photography enthusiasts and people who want an adventure at their own pace!

If you’re exploring for a place to commune with nature and learn about history, the Weedon Island Preserve is the perfect spot. This 3,000-acre refuge boasts gorgeous coastlines and an array of wildlife.

You can also find a variety of educational programs and events that will help you learn more about the area’s ecology and culture. Whether you’re looking to hike, paddle, fish, or just relax in nature, the Weedon Island Preserve has it all!

Weedon Island Preserve is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702.

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park

You’ll find a unique paddling experience waiting for you at Myakka River State Park. With over 37,000 acres to explore, it’s the largest and oldest state park in Florida. You can rent equipment from the Outpost or bring your own if you have it.

The excellent place to kayak in tampa is at Myakka River State Park because there are so many different areas to explore. You can paddle through wetlands, forests, and prairies, and see a variety of wildlife along the way.

Myakka River State Park is home to alligators, but you’ll also find other aquatic species like turtles and fish. The facilities at MRSP include a restaurant with delicious food options available year round.

There’s also an option to camping if you want to make a weekend of it. So come on out and enjoy everything this state park has to offer!

Shell Key Preserve

Shell Key Preserve

It is the perfect place to relax and get away from it all. With its beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife, it’s easy to see why Shell Key Preserve is such a popular destination for nature lovers.

One of the most unique features of Shell Key Preserve is its large barrier island. In addition to its natural beauty, Shell Key Preserve is also home to a variety of marine habitats. The preserve is also a popular spot for bird watching, as it is home for many different species of birds.

This island is home to mangroves and seagrass beds, which provide shelter and food for many different species of fish and other marine life. Visitors to the preserve can often spot dolphins swimming in the waters around the island.

Shell Key Preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk. Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drinks. However, please be sure to pack out all trash and respect the natural resources of the preserve.

Tarpon Springs Bayou, Florida

Tarpon Springs Bayou, Florida

Tarpon Springs Bayou is a great place to kayak and see manatees! The spring water is 72 degrees, which is perfect for manatees year-round. A launch site provides access to canoes or single kayaks, making it easy for anyone to enjoy the bayou.

The bayou also offers to a number of launched sites, making it easy to get out on the water and explore.

With its crystal clear waters and abundance of aquatic life, the Tarpon Springs Bayou is a must-see for any nature lover. From the kayak, visitors can expect to see manatees, turtles, fish, and a variety of birds.

So whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or just getting started, the Tarpon Springs Bayou is the perfect place to paddle your way through Florida’s natural beauty.

With its beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. So come on out and explore everything that Tampa has to offer!

Best Places to Kayak in Tampa, Florida: FAQs

Can you kayak in downtown Tampa?

Yes! There are many places to go kayaking in downtown Tampa. Some of the most popular spots include the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Riverwalk, and the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Do you need a permit to kayak in Florida?

You do not need a permit to kayak in Florida. You have the legal right to paddle your boat at any time of day on public water. There’s nothing to stop you from kayaking, as long it can be done safely. So take most out of it!

What is the best time of day to kayak?

The best time of day to kayak depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer to kayak in the morning, while others prefer to kayak in the evening. If you’re looking to avoid the heat of the day, it’s best to kayak in the morning.

Can you kayak in the rain?

Yes, you can kayak in the rain. However, it is important to be aware of the conditions before you go out. If the weather is severe, it’s best to stay on shore.

What should I bring with me when I go kayaking?

When you go kayaking, it’s important to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, water, and snacks. You should also bring a flashlight and a whistle in case of an emergency.

What should I wear when I go kayaking?

When you go kayaking, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing that can get wet. You should also wear shoes that will protect your feet from the elements.

Do you have to be fit to kayak?

No, you do not have to be fit to kayak. However, it is important to be aware of your own physical limitations. If you are not comfortable paddling for long periods of time, it’s best to stick to shorter trips.


If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy the kayak ride, then Tampa is best place for Kayaking.

There are many best places to enjoy kayaking in Tampa, Florida. Each location offers its own unique scenery and wildlife. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure on the water or just want to relax and enjoy nature, there’s a perfect spot for you.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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