For many people Orlando is synonymous with theme parks but there’s far more to the central Florida city. There’s downtown Orlando filled with restaurants, night clubs, concerts, and post-game celebrations. There’s residential Orlando with canopied oaks and lakefront bungalows. Then just a short drive in any direction, there’s a scenic, quiet paradise that’s perfect to explore from your kayak.
Kayaking in Central Florida
Central Florida offers an abundance of lakes, rivers, bays, and springs, all spotted with the state’s diverse local wildlife. Here we’ll explore a few destinations near Orlando, Florida for your next kayaking adventure.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Close to home, just 25 minutes from Orlando is Wekiva Springs State Park, a perfect spot for a day of kayaking and cooling off in the cold spring. Keep your eyes out for alligators sunning on the riverbank as you make your way down the Wekiva River. Even if you can’t see them, you might be able to hear them. You’ll also have a chance to spot native birds, turtles and otters.
About an hour north of Orlando, in Altoona, FL, you’ll find the stunning Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest. Great for kayaking, this first-magnitude spring offers a wide, slow-flowing run with excellent Floridia scenery and wildlife including turtles, fish and alligators. Launch your kayak from Alexander Springs Recreation Area. Canoe and kayak rental is also available from the on-site the concession stand.
South Lido County Park
A bit farther at 2.5 hours, but well worth it is South Lido County Park and a series of mangrove tunnels leading out to the Sarasota Bay. The tunnels are marked surprisingly well and are easy to navigate. The currents here will do most of the work, making this an easy, yet incredibility exciting kayak trip. There’s a chance you’ll even spot a manatee.
If it’s a manatee you’re after, Kings Bay in the City of Crystal, about 1.5 hours from Orland, is your best bet. It is fed by more than 70 springs and home to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, an 80-acre refuge that consists of 20 islands in and around Kings Bay that is accessible only by boat. Each winter the warm waters of these springs bring manatees by the hundreds in from the Gulf. Although the best time to see manatees is November through March, some do stick around throughout the summer. You can increase your manatee spotting odds with a guided tour.
Less than an hour’s drive east of Orland, near Titusville, you’ll find Mosquito Lagoon. Here in the summer months, you can paddle through the waters and see bioluminescent dinoflagellates light up. They are a single-celled organism that lights up when the water is disturbed, making the water come to life with a glowing blue light. When conditions are just right, you’ll see the amazing blue luminosity with every paddle splash or if a dolphin or fish chance to jump out of the water nearby.
Kayak Storage Racks for Orlando, Florida
An amazing kayaking adventure is always nearby when you are in Central Florida. Make sure your kayak is ready with an exquisitely crafted rack from Log Kayak Rack. Our kayak, canoe and SUP storage racks are made from durable, naturally weather-resistant 100% norther cedar logs. They’ll keep your shoreline neat and orderly and your kayaks at the ready. We offer standard designs that can store up to eight kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards each or can custom build a storage solution for you. Shop our kayak racks online now and enjoy free shipping to Orlando, Florida, or contact us for a custom kayak storage solution.