If you’re looking for the best places to kayak in Miami, you’ve come to the right place.
Some of the best spots for Miami kayaking and paddle boarding can be found along South Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Most with easy access to some of Florida’s native mangrove forests.
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While South Florida is well-known for its vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches, you’ll quickly find that it goes far beyond that. From abundant water activities to national parks, diverse wildlife, unique waterways, and white sand beaches, this truly is a nature lover’s paradise.
So whether you are a beginner or an experienced kayaker, there is plenty to explore for all skill levels. Rest assured, no one gets left behind in a kayaking adventure. Fun awaits the whole group!
Let’s dive in!
There are several beautiful places to explore from the sandy beaches of Miami all the way down to Key West with some hot spots you won’t want to miss.
If you are local, weekend day trips are always fun and as a visitor, you can explore several different areas throughout your vacation as there are many within close proximity.
Oleta River State Park
Oleta River State Park is Florida’s largest urban park located in North Miami Beach. With just a short drive from downtown Miami, this hidden gem is tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Oleta River amidst flat, calm waters which makes it perfect for paddling.
The scenic river offers the opportunity to paddle through the only remaining mangrove forest along the coast where you can spot various wildlife in their natural habitat. If you keep your ears and eyes peeled, you can experience the sounds and sights of the surrounding wildlife and nature.
I would suggest getting on the water first thing in the morning or just before sunset when it’s less crowded, so you have a better chance of spotting some of nature’s finest. Some of which you might find are great blue herons, wading birds, native butterflies, or even manatees and dolphins surrounding you. They are a sight to see!
For the more advanced kayakers, if you venture out into the open water, you’ll have the opportunity to get spectacular views of the Miami skyline.
If you don’t have your own kayak or paddleboard, you can rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard from the Oleta River Outdoor Center for $40 to $60. Depending on how long you want to paddle.
There are also guided tours if you want more of an educational experience. A kayaking tour is a great way to maximize your experience and explore areas you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
East Greynolds Park
East Greynolds Park is located off of Biscayne Blvd in North Miami Beach, just 7 minutes away from Oleta River State Park. It’s a historical gem that opened to the public in 1936 and was originally a limestone quarry.
While the park doesn’t offer rentals, it’s a quick trip from Oleta River State Park if you want to stop by and explore the grounds, the nature center, or do some bird-watching. It does offer a launch ramp if you have your own kayak or canoe so that’s an option if you’re a local or a road tripper with your own kayak, canoe, or paddle board.
Another option is exploring kayak tours with expert guides that know the ins and out of the area and take you down the best scenic routes including a mangrove jungle.
A guided tour is something I would recommend if you’re new to the area, if you’re visiting, or just beginning to get your feet with kayaking or paddleboarding. It’s also a great way to explore different areas and learn about Florida’s natural ecosystems.
If you’re staying in the South Beach area of Miami, South Beach Kayak is a great place to rent kayaks or paddleboards. Paddle over to Flagler Memorial Island to cool off in the water and explore a bit before heading back.
If you prefer a tour guide over a self-guided tour, the family-owned local business offers sunset kayak tours along the intercostal waterways of Star, Hibiscus, Palm, and the Venetian islands.
And be on the lookout for dolphins, they tend to put on a show during the evening sunset hours!
Black Point Park & Marina
Black Point Marina sits right on Biscayne Bay nestled among the mangroves near Biscayne National Park in the Homestead area. While this is a great place for history, exploring nature, and the diverse wildlife the area has to offer, it is more for boating and diving.
The park does not offer kayak rentals at this time but it does give access to a launch ramp where you can launch your kayak if you have one. This place gets pretty crowded and is typically super busy on the weekend so I wouldn’t recommend venturing out on a kayak unless you are experienced.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being trampled by a boat and they do have the right of way on the ocean.
If you are an experienced kayaker, Black Point Marina offers great opportunities to explore through mangrove estuaries where you just may be able to spot manatees in their natural habitat. Just don’t feed them and admire them from a distance. This is their home and we need to respect it.
And don’t forget your GoPro. You’ll want to keep that handy for some cool shots along the way!
Biscayne Bay National Park
Biscayne National Park is located on Biscayne Bay just south of Miami and slightly north of the Key Largo. Here you’ll have the opportunity to explore beautiful coral reefs, islands, and mangrove forests that are only accessible by watercraft.
Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings as you paddle through for dolphins and sea turtle sightings along the Biscayne Bay Lagoon. Pelicans are also common in this area along with other birds and wildlife.
Jones Lagoon is another great area to kayak over to if you want to see stingrays, jellyfish, wading birds, and more. If you prefer kayaking tours, the park offers a half-day snorkel and paddle adventure for an even more exciting trip over to the lagoon!
For kayak rentals, simply head over to the park’s visitor center to get started.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park has 3 different entrance locations spanning three counties, Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, and Collier County. If you’re visiting Miami and would like to visit the park, the closest entrance is going to be the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
There are several launch sites throughout the park with amazing canoe and kayak trails to explore.
Depending on how long and complex the kayak trail is, paddling trips can take anywhere from a few hours to several days.
You have the option to bring your own kayak or rent one at the park. Canoes are also available for rent if you choose.
Alternatively, you can rent a tour guide that will outfit and provide an educational experience through coastal hardwood hammocks, cypress trees, and lush tropical preserves for an unforgettable kayaking experience.
This is one park you’ll want to explore if you can.
Matheson Hammock State Park
Matheson Hammock Park is located in the Coral Gables area of Miami under an hour south of Miami Beach. This used to be one of my go-to parks in high school and the drive to it is absolutely beautiful.
The 630-acre park offers both kayak and paddle board rentals at the Adventure Sports Miami Concession but weekends may not be the ideal time to visit as it gets pretty crowded. You’ll have a better chance of enjoying it during the week if you have weekday availability.
This is an ideal place for beginners kayaking in Miami for a more relaxing paddle and calm, shallow waters. You’ll also have the opportunity to experience amazing views of the Miami skyline which makes a perfect photo opp!
Hobie Beach is a small stretch of beach located off of the Rickenbacker Causeway on the way to Key Biscayne near downtown Miami and the Brickell area. This beach is easily accessible off the causeway and offers a tropical laid-back atmosphere.
Kayak and paddleboard rentals (including lessons) are available at Miami Water Sports Sailing Center.
This is a popular spot for beachgoers so I highly recommend getting to Hobie Beach first thing in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds and get ahead of traffic. It will also give you a chance to park in the parking lot (which is small by the way!) and find a perfect secluded spot on the beach to get situated.
This way you can enjoy a peaceful paddle and a more relaxing kayak and beach adventure.
Crandon Park is located in Key Biscayne toward the end of the Rickenbacker Causeway stretch. The park is open from sunrise to sunset which is the perfect opportunity to get in at the crack of dawn to avoid backed-up traffic and crowds.
This is one beach that gets super crowded on the weekends to the point that cars get turned away because the park is full. So, I highly recommend getting here in the early morning hours to make the best of your kayaking experience.
There is plenty of wild animals to see throughout the park including the Marjorie Stoneman Nature Center. In fact, this is where you would go for your kayak or paddleboard rental.
Just remember to get there early before the crowds roll in so you can be sure to have a more enjoyable paddling experience.
Virginia Key Outdoor Center
Located near downtown Miami, the Virginia Key Outdoor Center used to be a full-service center for outdoor activities including kayak and paddleboard rentals until it was shut down by the City of Miami indefinitely.
The center closed in August of 2022 until further notice.
The Florida Keys are among my absolute favorite. From Key Largo all the way down to Key West you are sure to find several kayak trails to explore.
If you head to the Keys, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot manatees, sea turtles, nurse sharks, sting rays, migratory birds, and so much more!
Keep in mind that the further down along the Florida Keys you go, the clearer and bluer the water becomes.
Local Paddle Rental Company
Between Key Largo and Islamorada, you’ll find a local rental company, Paddle the Florida Keys which not only provides excellent customer service, they make it convenient for you to explore all the Keys has to offer, oceanside or along the Florida Bay.
Based on my experience, it’s the absolute best!
They give you the option to rent on-site, pick up a kayak or paddleboard to take with you, or deliver one to you wherever you choose within the Keys.
If you’re a nature lover like I am, this is one of the best ways to get on the water and explore the mangrove trails. Just be sure to have insect repellent on hand because you just might need it as you paddle through the mangrove tunnels.
Bahia Honda State Park
While you can kayak and paddleboard just about anywhere in the Keys, Bahia Honda State Park is worth a specific mention. The park is a small island located in the lower Keys at MM 37.
It’s a perfect place to venture out into the crystal-clear waters by kayak or stand-up paddleboard while being surrounded by Florida’s beautiful marine life.
You can rent kayaks as well as snorkeling gear at the park for a great way to explore the underwater world including tropical fish, stingrays, and nurse sharks.
If you want to take it a bit further, snorkeling excursions are also available with boat trips to the reef where you’ll have the opportunity to see more of the Key’s underwater “locals.”
Key West offers water adventure fun for everyone while learning about the island’s history and ecosystems. From kayaking through the mangroves on an eco-tour or discovering the beauty of Key West through a mangrove maze to snorkeling the coral reefs.
If you love the water, you definitely will not run out of things to do!
You can also rent a boat or take a tour over to beautiful Dry Tortugas Island which is a little under 70 miles west of Key West.
Fort Lauderdale is about 45 minutes north of Miami just passed Dania Beach. Here you’ll also find kayaking opportunities along the Middle River and Intracoastal Waterway if you choose to venture up to the Broward County area.
There’s also a cool spot in Victoria Park on N. Victoria Park Road where you can launch a kayak or paddleboard to paddle the intercoastal waterways.
This is a good place to drop your kayak if live locally or are visiting with a kayak of your own. The waters are calm and it’s not often crowded which is really nice.
The park is located at the end of E. Broward Blvd in Fort Lauderdale.
What to Pack
Before you head out on your paddling adventure, there are paddling essentials I highly recommend you take with you. These are things I wish I knew before I went out for the first time.
Some might think it’s common sense but that isn’t always the case when you are filled with excitement and ready to hit the kayak trails!
Paddling Must Haves:
- Cooler with plenty of water
- Lunch and snacks
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen (reef-safe)
- Water shoes (you’ll need these in the mangroves if you get in the water)
- Waterproof dry bag to keep your essentials in
- Anchor (optional)
I recently tried this electrolytes cactus water and it is now my newfound addiction! I highly recommend packing these up in your cooler bag. The Florida sun is no joke. It’ll have you parched in no time!
FAQs about Kayaking in Miami
Can you kayak in the Miami River?
Yes. The Miami River is calm enough to launch a kayak can be launched in Brickell Key.
Do you need a permit to kayak in Florida?
Florida does not require you to have a permit or license for kayaking or any non-motorized water vessels.
Can you bring your own kayak to Biscayne National Park?
You sure can. You can bring a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe and launch it from the park’s Visitor Center. You can also launch from the neighboring Black Point Marina.
Can you kayak in Biscayne Bay?
Yes. However, it is recommended for more advanced kayakers who have experience navigating through boat traffic and main channels. If your skill level is between beginner and intermediate, I would recommend going on a guided tour.