Tampa Bay has some of the most diverse and beautiful kayaking locations in the entire country. With seemingly countless winding rivers, crystal clear springs, and endless miles of ocean coastlines, choosing the perfect location for your paddling adventure can be overwhelming. To make your decision a little easier, we put together a list of our favorite Tampa Bay paddling spots that we are sure you will love.
Weedon Island Preserve
The Weedon Island Preserve is the most unique of all the locations in Tampa Bay. The Preserve has miles of mesmerizing mangrove tunnels that will absolutely amaze you. While paddling through them, you will be completely surrounded by Florida’s famous red, white and black mangroves. The mangroves are not only vital to the ecosystem, but beautiful as well. Within these tunnels you will be able to witness first hand the diverse wildlife of Tampa Bay, such as the black mangrove crab, dolphins, the blue heron, and Florida’s most sought after mammal, the manatee. If that’s not convincing enough, the 4-mile South Paddling Trail also has a conveniently located sand bar that is the perfect location to get out of your boat and dive into the refreshing water.
DO NOT WORRY! The Weedon Island Preserve is totally salt water so you do not have to keep on the look out for alligators while you are swimming and paddling. We do, however, recommend that when you enter the water you drag your feet through the sand and do the stingray shuffle and no that is not a new dance move in an Usher song. This hip dance move will help scare away any stingrays buried beneath the sand around you.
The Weedon Island Preserve is an amazing spot for all types of kayakers and is especially great for families. If you have your own kayaks, there is a dock at the very end of Weedon Drive NE that you can launch from, but if you do not, you can easily book a tour with ECOmersion Kayak Tours.
Although it is about 100 miles north of Tampa Bay and not technically in Tampa, the Rainbow River is just too amazing to exclude from our list. With some of the clearest water in all of Florida, you can see the bottom of the river at over 30 feet deep. The water is also a refreshing 72 degrees all year round making it perfect for those brutally hot and humid Florida summers we all know too well. As you paddle down the river you will be surrounded by gorgeous lush green landscapes and wildlife. It is simply a must visit for families and people of all ages.
Caladesi Island is one of the most beautiful places in all of Florida. Only being accessible by boat, the Island has been mostly untouched by people. This has allowed the island to have some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world. It is no wonder that Caladesi’s white sand beach was voted the # 1 beach in North America in 2008. The island is also perfect for kayaking. You will be able to kayak along the coast and stop to enjoy the mostly secluded beaches anytime you want. The island is made up of beautiful mangrove tunnels that paddlers are able to go through as well. Caladesi Island really has it all and is a must visit location.
Just a 30-minute drive east of Tampa is the amazing Alafia River. Along this winding river, you are almost guaranteed to see deer, foxes, a variety of birds and even the famous alligator. Do not worry though because the gators will almost never bother you endless you entice them first. Respect them and they will respect you back. The best place to launch from is Alderman Ford County Park and while winding down the river we recommend you stop for a break at Lithia Springs conservation park where a section of the river is blocked off for swimming in crystal clear water.
Tampa River Walk Kayaking
There is literally no better way to take in the majestic beauty of Tampa bay then by the water. Viewing the city from the water will you give you a whole new perspective of Tampa. We love to start our paddle at Bayshore Boulevard and take in the stunning Hillsborough bay before heading up the Hillsborough River as we go through the heart of Tampa. You will be able to see the famous Tampa River Walk and on the other side you can appreciate the beautiful architecture of the University of Tampa. This is truly Tampa Bay kayaking.