THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO KAYAK IN AND AROUND MIAMI

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CLARISSA BUCH

MAY 6, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @IPADDLEMIAMI | INSTAGRAM

There’s no shortage of beautiful waterfront spots in Miami. And there’s no better way to explore them than with a paddle in hand. So, get ready for a day-long adventure winding through mangrove forests, quiet canals, and maybe even the Everglades. Yep, this is Miami like you’ve never seen — grab your ‘yak and get out there (ideally before or during sunset)!

This area is one of the last undeveloped coastal ecosystems in South Florida and paddling through it is pretty special. This beachside park, which for years was known as John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, will take you through lush mangrove forests and quiet, untouched canals. Depending on how far out you kayak, you may even reach the ocean. Fitt Tip: wear a bathing suit and go for a quick swim before or after your adventure.

We seriously can’t get enough of Oleta River State Park. As Florida’s largest urban state park, this place has some of the best running routes and mountain bike trails in all of South Florida. It’s also a great place to kayak. You’ll want to rent equipment from the BG Oleta River Outdoor Center and paddle through the Biscayne Bay. There are tons of routes to choose from, including open water, tree-lined waterways, and the Oleta River. The park is also a welcome stop for long-distance paddlers who can take on the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. Be warned, though: if you paddle this trail, your arms are in for a workout.

Nicknamed Fort Lauderdale’s “Central Park”, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a much-needed slice of wilderness set up in the center of the bustling city. It’s a great place to get lost as you kayak among South Florida’s Everglades-esque landscape. And, if you don’t have your own equipment, Park & Ocean will supply it for you.

About 95% of Biscayne National Park is made up of water, making this one of the best places to explore via kayak. With six different paddle trails, which range from one mile to almost 20, explore nearby barrier islands, lagoons, creeks, and channels, and catch glimpses of birds, jellyfish, and stingrays. If you consider yourself a more experienced kayaker, cross the seven-mile expanse of Biscayne Bay to the Elliott or Boca Chita Keys. Don’t know where to start? The park offers detailed maps of all of its trail guides, all you have to do is ask!

Kayak through the calm waters of Crandon Park — one of Miami’s most beautiful beaches. Similar to many of South Florida’s other kayaking spots, this destination features never-ending routes full of mangroves, sandy beaches, coastal hammocks, and dunes. Fitt Tip: at the park’s north concession, kiteboards and kayaks are available for rent.

Kayaking in Miami wouldn’t be complete without a trip through the waters surrounding South Beach. Just off 17th St. on Miami Beach’s west side, pick up equipment at South Beach Kayak and paddle through the Biscayne Bay in between the mainland and Miami Beach. For first-time paddlers, go for a guided tour or a quick lesson. If you have your own gear, skip it and head straight to the water!

Discovering the Everglades by foot or bike is fun, but there’s nothing like winding through its sparkling waters by kayak. Everglades National Park welcomes kayakers to explore freshwater marshes, mangrove forests, and the open waters of the Florida Bay. Depending on the length and complexity of your chosen trail, trips can range from a few hours to several days, so plan accordingly. Rentals are available at the Flamingo Marina or Gulf Coast Visitor Center, and, if you don’t want to go it alone, you can always hire a guide to lead you on a one-of-a-kind adventure.

With lakes and beaches, there’s no shortage of places to paddle in Matheson Hammock Park. Set up off Old Cutler Rd. in South Miami, one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in South Florida, the park is best known for its warm, safe waters and full-service marina. Adventure Sports runs an on-site kayak rental, making it easy to quickly pick up gear before heading out for the day.

Situated close to Biscayne National Park, Black Point Marina is a great launching pad for kayakers of all skill levels. Stay nearby the marina or paddle out toward the park and the surrounding ocean. Just make sure you wear sunscreen — it’s all open waters here. After your journey, refuel with a bite at the dockside restaurant and congratulate yourself on a day well spent.

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