Kayaking Sarasota & Paddle Boarding
Kayaking Sarasota and Suncoast Paddle Boarding are well loved sports in the Gulf Coast region of Florida. With calmer waters that are crystal clear, there is a lot to love about paddling through some of the most beautiful, serene scenery. There is not just open ocean water to enjoy, there are smaller waterways within local parks to explore. Find out why the Suncoast is home to some of the best Sarasota Kayaking and paddle boarding on the Gulf Coast.
Best Spots for Kayaking Sarasota
Some of the best paddle spots are in the SunCoast. Check out a few of them:
Oscar Scherer State Park: off the Tamiami Trail in Osprey. Launch a kayak from the South Creek picnic area or the ranger station. Rentals available. 90-minute paddles offered by rangers and volunteers every Wednesday. Native plants and vegetation make it a fun trip (and without many alligators in the water)
South Lido Mangrove Tunnels: world-famous tunnels just off South Lido Beach nature Park. Guided tours available which can make it crowded in high season. Tunnels are open for free paddles for people bringing their own. Look for fish and wading birds with vistas of downtown Sarasota. Avoid low tide times and expect around an hour to paddle through.
Robinson Preserve: county park in northwest Bradenton with recent 150-acre expansion. Includes over 600 acres of salt marsh and lowlands to explore. Concessionaires like surferbus.com rent kayaks here. Kayak or paddle the trails to Manatee River, Palma Sola Bay and Perico Sound. Watch for wind and tides. Check water reports before heading out on your own.
Emerson Point Preserve: a 365-acre county-owned preserve on Snead Island in Palmetto. Use the official kayak launch in the mangrove tunnel or launch from the beach that juts into Tampa Bay if you’re more experienced. This provides great views of Sunshine Skyway Bridge and is less crowded than other spaces. Read water reports and watch tides to avoid getting stranded at low tide.
With so many rental places in Sarasota, it can be hard to choose. What helps is knowing what to look for in picking out a good rental board or kayak. Renting equipment is a low-commitment, low cost door to fun and provides opportunities to explore lots of options. Rental shops often give pointers, tips on how to use the equipment, and safety gear. Check with them on current weather conditions, group tours, and other ways to enjoy the experience. Be sure to look at the company’s safety rating ahead of time before booking tours and ask around for reviews and recommendations. Look over the boards and kayaks to be sure all equipment meets safety standards and is in good condition before renting.
Kayaking Price Points
Kayak: expect to spend anywhere from $20-$40 for a single kayak per hour, with rates around $80 for a daily rental. Group tour costs vary per company depending on where, when, and for how long the tour goes.
Paddleboard: rentals can range from $30-$45 an hour with additional costs per hour. A day rental can cost between $70-$80. Group rates vary depending on length of time and location or season (high season may charge more).
Grabbing a healthy bite to eat before or after paddleboarding and kayaking can be a great way to round out the day. In Sarasota, the weather is nice year round and farm fresh food is available with seasonal fruits that are fresh and tangy. Be sure to check out the Sarasota Farmers Market every Saturday on Main Street and Lemon Avenue. Farmers and local businesses bring their best to the market. Other local farmer’s markets have a farm-to-table approach like Venice Farmers Market in downtown Venice on Saturday and the Phillippi Farmhouse Market in south Sarasota every Wednesday. Restaurants for good dining and raw, vegan foods include Ionie Healing Center and Raw Food Cafe. Lovely Square has vegan, vegetarian and healthy options in Spanish and French cooking style. Other places sell smoothies and healthy bites all around Sarasota with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options as well.
Group activities usually require reservations. Check online or call in advance to avoid disappointment, especially for more popular tours of marine life or hot spots. Tour guides should be well versed in the area and know the spaces well including water conditions and whether there are alligators, sharks, or other dangerous animals in any of the areas. Safety gear should be provided for group tours. Individual boards and kayaks can usually be reserved in advance or picked up on the day. The chosen company will also have launch point maps and area maps of the places you’re going to point you in the right direction. Be sure to ask them about delivery as many companies offer this option in Sarasota.