Kayaking in and Around Miami: 10 of the Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer

With its unique marine ecosystem and the best coastlines and beaches, it’s no surprise that Miami is a revered destination for water activities. Kayaking in and around Miami offers a great way to explore these beautiful places.

Whether you’re hoping to admire the different wildlife while cruising the various river channels or want a thrilling ocean adventure, kayaking in and around Miami is perfect for sightseeing. 

Kayaking is also best suited for people of all ages regardless of their level of experience. This guide explores some of the best places that you can go kayaking in and around Miami.

For more kayaking destinations nearby check out our post on the best places to go kayaking in Florida here.

1. The Middle River, FL

Located 42 min from Miami, the Middle River in Fort Lauderdale is a popular destination for kayaking because of its extensive stretch of mangroves and undeveloped land. It’s still a perfect place for iguana, manatee, and heron sightseeing.

The best place to launch your Kayak is at Cohohatchee (1975 NE 15th Ave). There are also two great outfitters along the river located at Blue Moon Outdoors at George English Park and Sunrise Paddleboards at 2520N.

If you need kayak rental to explore the middle river, the Weeki Wachee Kayak rental offers different types you can consider. They even offer guided tours if it’s your first time exploring the river.

The Middle River kayaking trail stretches for 2.8 miles, and you’ll cruise under the shade of Florida’s distinct palms, Oak, and Cypress trees. You can see pelicans, otters, and turtles along the river’s clear waters as if you were in an aquarium.

2. Fort Pierce, FL

If you would love to kayak in the evening, there is plenty of marine life you’ll spot in Fort Pierce that you can’t find anywhere else. 

The most common is the bioluminescent comb jellies which lighten the dark water under your Kayak. This is also a unique experience from daytime trips because you’ll be navigating the mangrove and paddling the coves with a glow-in-the-dark lantern or flashlight.

While kayaking, there are plenty of opportunities to walk around the shallow areas based on the tides and search for snails, conch, and starfish which enjoy the sandbars. The best place to start your journey is at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, before heading through the Tucker Cove and the Coon Island winding mangrove tunnels.

On your kayaking cruise, you’ll get the chance to see a lot of incredible marine life. Depending on the tides, you can get out and walk around the shallow water sections.

3. The Everglades, FL

The Everglades National Park is an hour’s drive from Miami and a perfect kayaking destination because of renowned paddle areas like the Flamingo Bay trail. If you plan to kayak along this nine-mile trail, consider launching from the Flamingo Marina, that’s 38 miles south of the park’s entrance.

The canoe trail is the other trail that follows a mangrove waterway with many sharp twists and turns. This 2-mile trail isn’t ideal for kayaking beginners because of its many twists and turns.

However, the course is marked with white and orange signs to help you maintain the correct route if you’re on a guided tour.

As a beginner, consider trying out the Bear Lake Canoe Trail, a trail along an artificial water channel lined with thick mangroves. Regardless of your route, the Everglades is a popular destination for seeing different endangered species like Florida’s Panther, American Crocodile, and Manatee.

Remember that you’re likely to come across alligators regardless of the trail you take, but you shouldn’t fret because they are docile if not provoked.

4. The Virginia Key Outdoor Center, FL

This is a recreational facility located in midtown Miami that offers the best paddleboard and kayak tours. The Virginia key kayaking trail has mangroves lagoons with clear water that you can see fish darting inside. Along your way, you’ll have a chance to catch a glimpse of sharks, manatees, and dolphins.

Expect to paddle for six miles if you want to circumnavigate the Island, but you should expect to face waves and winds. For a shorter experience, focus more on the Island’s northwest quadrant, especially the side facing northwest Miami. The best entry point is at Hobie Beach, which is situated where the causeway reaches Virginia Key.

5. Crandon Park, FL

Besides the Crandon Park ranking as a top destination for canoeing and kayaking in Miami, it’s also a leading beach with a world-class facility like the nature center, picnic shelter, and a golf course. You can paddle through the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the Biscayne Bays’ calm waters, and the mangroves. During your cruise, you’ll see fossilized coral reefs and also spot a dolphin or two.

There’s also an option for you to rent yaks at the Miami Kiteboarding. For an hour’s rental, it will cost you $25 for a double sit-on-top and $20 for a single sit-on-top. You may also consider a single or double yak for 10 hours which can cost you $160. The ideal place to start kayaking is along Washington Avenue at the start of Lincoln road.

6. The Matheson Hammock Park, FL

Located South of Miami, The Matheson Hammock Park covers 630-acres, and its calm water is ideal for families with kids. Consider renting a stand-up paddleboard or Kayak from Adventure Sports who offer guided tours and lessons.

You may also want to consider rentals from the Matheson Hammock Marina, which also operates a boating school for young children. On your cruise, you’ll explore mangroves, swamps, and the incredible Biscayne Bay, where you’ll get an up-close view of tons of wildlife.

The ideal place to launch is from the water sports parking lot located north of the park. 

Alternatively, head out to the Biscayne Bay east of the park and head towards the south. Whichever path you choose, you’ll get a great view of Miami’s old neighborhoods and subtropical sea creatures.

7. The Loxahatchee River, FL

This river offers different kayaking experiences for those who need an all-day adventure or a two-hour kayak along the Loxahatchee River. Many kayakers prefer to paddle the 8.5-mile journey along the river, but it’s advisable to paddle through the first 4 miles. This is because the section of the Loxahatchee River passes through the Riverbend Park mangroves and the cypress forest.

If you are looking for a rental Kayak, you can find it at Jupiter Outdoor Center in Riverbend Park. There are many outfitters along the river who can guide you along the trail. However, if you’re an experienced kayaker, you may want to consider launching your boat along the coastline.

To get to this river from Miami, take the 1-95 N towards Florid’s Turnpike. Take exit 116 to Jupiter and continue to River Dr.

8. St. Lucie River, FL

While it’s a lesser-known kayaking destination, the Lucie River is an excellent destination for kayakers as there are plenty of sights to see. While you’re likely to experience little current when you paddle upstream from Hosford Park, you will not experience any other difficulties along the seven-mile trail.

In the first 45 minutes on your cruise, you’ll see an undeveloped forest that’s part of Halpatiokee Regional Park.

You’ll also spot different animals, including the manatee and various birds, including the black-bellied whistling ducks, blue heron, among others. In every trail, there are designated stops where you can use the public restroom. Take note that there are currently no outfitters serving this river.

9. West Lake Park, FL

Located between Diana Beach, FL, and Hollywood, this is an excellent destination for kayaking. It’s home to an 85-mile stretch of mangrove with a 3-mile stretch that’s secure for paddling. If you have a kayak, the best place to launch is at 122 Sheridan Street.

You should then follow the White Trail covered with thick mangroves until you reach the lake. In this trail, you’ll find different birds like vultures, kingfishers among others. You may also want to consider the Green Trail located opposite the lake from the white trail.

Sometimes the trails can be shallow to paddle, especially if the water is low, so you should check with the rangers before navigating your canoe in some places. If you plan to use a rental kayak, consultation before heading out on a trail can help prevent damages to a kayak you don’t own.

10. Sandfly Island, FL

Sandfly Island is home to some of the most vibrant wildlife in South Florida. The best place to launch your Kayak is at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. You can then cross the Chokoloskee Bay wide-open waters and pass different sandy beaches before arriving at Sandfly Island.

A roundtrip along the Island is relatively short (5 miles), which may take you about three hours to explore. You can even extend your paddle by exploring the bays and passageways around the Island. However, there are a few precautions to take. For instance, if you were to make this trip in the summer, head out early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorm and intense heat.

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak Near Miami

We hope that this blog post has given you some ideas for a great day of kayaking in and around Miami. As you can see, Miami is home to many beautiful waterways, so it’s not hard to find an exciting place to paddle or canoe.

It’s easily one of the most diverse and unique cities in America, with landscapes ranging from the Everglades to perfect white beaches to downtown city skylines there’s something for everyone here.

So, grab your canoe or kayak, head out and paddle some of these amazing locations in Miami.