Florida is filled with a wide range of picturesque waterways, making it an excellent location to paddle board. With so much to see and explore, it’s hard to choose just one spot. But these 12 places to paddle board in Florida are a great start.
Coastal Dune Lakes
Coastal dune lakes are an excellent paddle boarding area. If you would like to see turtles and sharks as you paddle through the gulf, or you want to explore a lake with bass and alligators, then this is an excellent choice for you. You can find all this in coastal dune lakes located in South Walton.
It is also worth mentioning that the coastal dune lakes are made up of fifteen lakes. Simply put, it is quite a phenomenon. The western lake is the best lake to paddle board on since it boasts of beautiful natural scenery and is also the largest of the fifteen. The other lakes include White Sand Lake, Coosawattee Lake, Green Swamp Lake, and several others.
St. Augustine is the oldest town in FL and is found on the Atlantic coast outside of Jacksonville. It offers quick access to Faver-Dykes state park and Matanzas River. This makes it a paddle boarders dream destination. You can watch cannon firings while cruising by the Castillo de San Marcos.
The waters surrounding St. Augustine are gentle, providing an excellent background for anyone who would like to relax on the water while taking in the diverse wildlife and the picturesque view of the surrounding landscapes.
If you’re looking for an easy paddle boarding spot with access to some of the prettiest landscapes and wildlife, then St. Augustine is an excellent choice for you. You can find additional information about this paddling spot here.
Dry Tortugas National Park
It is safe to say that the Dry Tortugas national park is a place that should be popular, and yet it feels like it has been kept a secret for an extended period. It leaves one with a specific, powerful effect despite not being as popular as Yosemite or Yellowstone. Dry Tortugas national park is home to seven clustered remote islands and is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and turquoise waters.
If you would like to take in and enjoy the beauty of the national park, paddling is a great way to have an unobstructed view. There are also multiple routes for individuals with different skill levels, so whether you are an expert or a beginner to paddle boarding, you are guaranteed to have a good time and enjoy the scenery.
It is worth noting that you can only access the park via a private boat or a ferry. Suppose you are using the public ferry. You need to note that it only has enough space for three solid stand up paddle boards for every trip it makes. Therefore, if you plan to paddle at the dry Tortugas national park, an inflatable stand up paddle board might be a better choice than a solid board to avoid worrying if the ferry has sufficient space.
Planning a getaway in northwest Florida? Destin Harbor would be an excellent choice, especially if you plan to go paddle boarding. The waters surrounding Destin are tranquil, making it a perfect and safe location for paddling. The Choctawhatchee Bay, Intracoastal canals, and bayous provide paddle boarders the chance to use the waterways to explore the area.
The beach’s soft and fine sand is perfect for beachgoers. While paddling around, you will be able to encounter a lot of marine life. As mentioned earlier, the water surrounding Destin is tranquil, meaning it is an excellent spot for novices because they are clear and smooth.
When you are tired from paddle boarding, you can sit on the phenomenal beaches in Destin and enjoy the views and the sun. There are so many places you can tour while paddling through Destin. For instance, if you would like to SUP, then the best place to spend the day doing that would be Crab Island. If you are a novice, be careful about the time you are paddling, it would be best to avoid paddling when the tides are high since you will have a hard time navigating the course. For more places, you can tour on Destin while paddling, click here.
Paddle boarders will enjoy paddling in Holmes creek since there is a wide range of marine life and plants around every turn they will take. The Holmes creek is one of the most spectacular waterways for paddle boarders since it goes from high sandy banks to a low-lying swamp toward the gulf. As you paddle through, you will see woodpeckers pecking away, tuneful warblers, and the attractive blue and green heron.
The Cypress Springs is a beautiful cold spring that is a tributary of Holmes creek. The stream is crystal clear and is so visible you can see right down through its depths. You can stop and take a swim or admire the beautiful and colorful fish, crawfish, and turtles. You can also snorkel if you would like to get closer to the natural habitat found here.
The only downside about paddle boarding at Holmes creek is that there are dangers below and above the surface. For instance, underwater tree trunks can snag your board, and low-lying branches require you to keep ducking.
Ten Thousand Islands
Ten thousand islands is found off the southwest coast of FL and is one of the top paddle boarding destinations. They are a chain of beautiful mangroves, and the islands cover about 35000 acres. This makes it easy for paddle boarders to find quiet spots to paddle while enjoying the scenery. There are multiple channels to paddle through, so you can find one that is quiet and break away from the group.
If you like to paddle to get a full-body workout, then ten thousand islands would be a perfect destination for you because it involves a lot of paddling. For instance, you need to be mentally prepared to visit the island because you have to paddle long distances. When you get to the islands’ visitors center, if you would like to go to one of the most popular islands, Sandfly island, you will have to do a 2.5 paddle.
Therefore, if you do not want to spend the whole day paddling, this may not be the best paddling area for you. If you love fishing, you can bring your fishing gear with you to use as you meander the mangroves. Overall, you will enjoy the surrounding area’s natural beauty, and you can even practice yoga since it is quiet and peaceful.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades national park is a great location to go paddle boarding and camping. Although you will need a permit from Everglades City if you intend to camp there. Compared to other getaway destinations, you have to be more self-sufficient when you go paddle boarding at Everglade.
If you are planning an excursion or getaway here, it would be best to go with a group, so you are not on your own, and please remember to bring bug-repellent, water, a first aid kit, and food. The windward side of the island has the best beaches, so head out in that direction, and if you are camping, set up your tent on that end since there are fewer pests.
Islamorada is an excellent area for paddle boarding. Especially SUP. If you would like to see trunkfish, dolphins, stingrays, and sharks, this would be a great choice. Cruise through the mangroves if you would like to get a glimpse of these marine lives. If you would like to have a bit of adventure, head out into the Indian key historic park. There are ancient ruins here from a town that was in existence in the early 1800s.
Another attraction for paddle boarders in Islamorada is the snake creek. This is a rocky shoreline that paves the way into diverse marine life and beautiful waters. You can use a tunnel from snake creek that will take you to Windley Key, where the waters are shallow and great for paddle boarding. If you would like to paddle into the deeper waters, Windley is a great launching point. It also has a mangrove bay that provides shelter. For more resources, check out this website.
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda state park provides a beautiful range of landscapes that paddle boarders can enjoy when they are out in the water. It is also considered among the most remote areas in FL. Bahia is a section of the Florida Keys. The lush island is located in Big Pine Key, and it makes our list because it is a premier location for paddle boarding.
There are multiple waterways in Bahia Honda state park where both experts and beginners can enjoy endless hours of paddling past the diverse wildlife and natural sights. While paddling, you may spot a manatee, wading birds, and shorebirds. Although it is worth mentioning that there are minimal chances of spotting a manatee.
Blowing Rocks Preserve
This reserve has an Anastasia limestone outcropping. Although most people go on getaways to relax, if you like paddle boarding, you need to try blowing rocks preserve. Test your river navigation and surfing skills when you visit blowing rocks reserve. It has multiple inland streams that are tricky to explore yet fun, such as the Loxahatchee River and the Indian River.
You should make a point to visit the blowing rocks preserve since it is such a beautiful sight and you are guaranteed to have fun. It is popularly known for its beautiful plumes of waters sprays when the waves move through the erosion holes. When the tides are high, the water sprays can go as far as 50 feet high up in the air.
If you would like to rest from paddle boarding, Hobe sound beach and Bonair beach are excellent spots to relax and practice yoga. You can still cruise here and take in the beautiful surrounding scenery. You can also head out to Jupiter island if you are a paddle boarder who likes some thrill. It is also an excellent spot for photographers to take amazing pictures. For more information click here.
Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa Beach sits west of Panama City. It is among the best locations you can go paddle boarding. The landscape here is quite scenic with its emerald waters on the 26 miles shoreline and white sand beaches. Your rides down the bayou will be peaceful, and the waters are also calm. You can paddle through the water as you enjoy the surrounding scene and the sunny day.
Suppose you would like to enjoy the scenery more head toward Choctawhatchee bay or go through Hogtown Bayou. Multiple beautiful homes are lining the waterways that you can admire. An alternative hotspot where you can take in the natural beauty from the water is Santa Rosa Sound near Okaloosa island.
St. Petersburg is an excellent location for paddle boarders who will be spoiled for choice since the gulf and bay sit on either side of the clearwater area. This makes it an excellent location to go paddle boarding. This is a popular area for various water sports enthusiasts since the weather is perfect.
Marine life is abundant, and the water looks beautiful, making it appealing all year long. Paddle boarders can set out on nature tours to take in the beautiful scenery of the surrounding mangrove islands, beaches, waterways, and bays.
Paddling in the Winter with Manatee
Whether you’re snow birding for the winter, or live there full-time, there’s nothing like the many springs that dot central Florida. The clear waters of the springs such as Crystal River, Rainbow Springs and the many other springs allow for paddlers to have amazing encounters with wildlife. During the winter months, manatee are often found lounging around these springs seeking the warmer (the water stays around 72 degrees year-round) waters.
If you have the chance to paddle one of these springs from around November to February, you might be treated to seeing some of these magnificent creatures. Be sure to obey the rules when encounter them as they are a protected species.
You’ll Enjoy Paddle Boarding in Florida
Paddle Boarding in Florida has been an excellent way to explore the beauty of this state. It is a great way to enjoy and take in the sights around you, and with the warmer climate, you can enjoy paddling year-round (even in the Winter!). Many of the destinations that we covered also offer SUP rentals if you don’t want to bring your own.
There are so many destinations to go paddle boarding in Florida it won’t be hard to find one that you love.