Kayaking in St. Petersburg Fl – Everything You Need to Know


It’s not a complete Florida experience if you don’t go out into the water. And what better way is there to explore the waterways than by kayak?

Kayaking is the best way to explore the Sunshine City. Clear blue-green waters, pearl-white beaches, stunning mangrove tunnels, and beautiful wildlife; what more could a paddler ask for? Kayaks are silent and allow you to get close to nature without disturbing the animals and access the best secluded spots. 

There are lots of gorgeous kayak trails to explore all around St Petersburg. If you have no idea where to start, don’t fret. Here is everything you need to know about kayaking in St Petersburg Fl. 

The Best Places to Kayak in St. Petersburg Florida

Regardless of what you’re looking for, there is a perfect kayak trail for you around St Pete Beach. Here are some of the top ones. 

1. Weedon Island Preserve 

Weedon Island Preserve in Pinellas County covers 3190 acres and has quite a rich history. Not only is it a designated archeological area, but it is also home to a wide range of wildlife. You can spot sharks, spoonbills, wood stork, dolphins, and bald eagles. 

If you’re looking for a thrilling kayak tour and a place to take breathtaking photos, the Weedon Island Preserve is perfect. 

The most popular trail for paddlers is the South Paddling trail, which is a 4-mile self-guided kayaking loop. It has some of the most amazing mangrove tunnels and if you’re lucky, you may have manatees swimming alongside your kayak. 

There is nothing better than paddling peacefully under mangrove canopies in the company of local wildlife. 

2. Fort Desoto Park

Fort Desoto Park is another must-see area and a favorite among kayakers. The park’s natural beauty offers a one-of-a-kind kayaking adventure. 

Fort Desoto comprises five islands or keys, with Mullet Key being the main one. The 1136-acre park is especially nice for families and has stunning beaches and kayak trails to explore. 

While on your kayaking trip, you won’t have to look hard to find beautiful sights, including mangroves, oyster beds, and different species of native birds. Dolphins are also pretty common in this area and, occasionally, you’ll see manatees too. 

The kayak trails on Fort Desoto Park offer a great paddling experience for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. However, if you want to get off the trails and enjoy a true Florida experience on your own, you can do so. There are boat ramps all around St. Pete Beach from where you can launch your kayak and paddle freely. 

3. Shell Key Preserve 

Shell Key Preserve is found in Tierra Verde, Florida. The preserve includes Shell Key island, a barrier island that’s perfectly tucked away from noise and crowds. This 2.5-mile long island is only accessible by boat and it’s undeveloped so don’t expect to see any facilities such as restrooms or restaurants. Most of it is also closed to the public for conservation purposes. 

There are many kayaking spots for kayakers of all skill levels. If you’re a complete newbie you can find a kayaking company, like Island Kayak Tours, that will guide you to a shallow saltwater preserve where the water is only about waist-deep.

You will have the best kayaking experience paddling through breathtaking mangrove tunnels and maybe even enjoy the company of dolphins and manatees. 

Go during the weekend if you want a peaceful and quiet experience. The island can attract a lot of visitors during the weekend. 

4. Caladesi Island

While in St. Petersburg, you should consider taking a trip to Caladesi Island. It’s like paradise and the beach here looks like something out of a painting. 

The island is only accessible by ferry or private boat. Alternatively, you can just kayak there. It is more affordable and you will enjoy picturesque views along the way. 

Caladesi Island is perfect for wildlife and bird watching. You’ll see lots of birds, fish, and crabs. Depending on how lucky you are, you may spot bald eagles, manatees, and dolphins on your trip. 

The kayak trail goes through a mangrove forest; you’ll have a canopy over your head and clear blue water under you. If you make it to the end of the trail you’ll exit to beautiful seagrass beds.

You can customize your trail and explore the Schammer homestead ruins if you’re feeling adventurous. 

Top Kayak Tours in St. Pete 

The above kayaking spots are awesome, to say the least. But venturing out on your own can be tough and you may not know where to start or when to go.

So to help you out, here are some of the top kayak rentals and tours around St Petersburg Florida. 

a. Get Up and Go Kayaking

You’ve probably heard so much about clear kayak tours in Florida. Well, you can experience them for yourself. 

Regular kayaks are awesome, but clear kayaks ensure that you have a full view of the water under you. Get Up and Go Kayaking provides 100% clear yaks as well as highly experienced guides to take you on amazing kayaking adventures. 

They have locations in different areas, including the Tampa Bay area, specifically Shell Key Preserve. You will see a wide range of marine life on their eco-guided tour, with occasional stops where you’ll learn a lot about the local wildlife and plant life. 

They also have glow tours, which happen at night. The clear kayaks will have LED lights underneath them. What could be better than a quiet night kayak tour under the stars?  

The tour company offers tours for small groups–a maximum of 10 people. They also offer private tours upon request. 

All the clear kayaks are tandem kayaks, designed for two paddlers. The seats are removable though, so one can ride solo. 


b. Sharkey’s Glass Bottom Kayak Tours

As you can tell from the name, Sharkey’s Glass Bottom Tours offers kayaks with a glass bottom for day and night kayak tours. During the night, the kayaks light up, illuminating the water under you.

The guides lead you to the best kayaking spots for sightseeing. You can also feed the fish. It is an amazing experience especially if you’re looking for a unique date night idea. Only two-person yaks are available for the night tours. 

There is also a package for paddlers who want to go out on a self-guided eco-tour. 


c. Sweetwater Kayaks

Sweetwater Kayaks offer tours in different locations, including Shell Key Preserve. 

One of their best tours is the St Petersburg City Lights kayak tour. You get to enjoy the city’s beautiful sunset, the moon rising, and the heavenly city lights. They also have full moon tours for paddlers who want a peaceful experience under the moonlight. 

If one day is not enough for you, Sweetwater Kayaks have multi-day trips too! 

They have single and tandem stable sit-inside kayaks as well as sit-on-top yaks. They also have fishing kayaks for the anglers. 


What to Expect When You Go Kayaking in St. Petersburg Fl

Ready to plan your trip? Here is what you should expect. 

1. Scenic Waterways

One thing about Florida’s West Coast is that the waterways will take your breath away. So be prepared. You’ll see glorious mangrove forests, unspoiled sugary beaches, clear inviting waters, and so much more. 

Make sure you book one of the night tours so you can enjoy the night views as well. Bring your phone too because you’ll want to take a photo at every stop. 

2. Diverse and Exciting Wildlife

If you love wildlife and bird watching you’re in for a treat. You’ll spot ospreys, bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, dolphins, manatees, and so many other animals. While kayaking some trails, you may have dolphins and manatees come and swim alongside your kayak, which is awesome! 

Clear or glass bottom kayaks are perfect if you want to get a good view of the marine life in the area. 

3. A Good Workout and Lots of Fun!

Kayaking may seem easy but it is actually a pretty good workout. Anyone can do it though since it is a gentle exercise. It is also super fun, especially if you’re exploring a place as beautiful as St Pete. So you can expect to have the time of your life. 

Wrapping Up

Kayaking in St Petersburg Florida is a truly unique experience. There are countless spots for you to tour and so much to see. Besides, you can find kayak rentals all around St Pete Beach. The rental shops also offer guided tours so you won’t have to figure everything out on your own. The clear kayaks and night tours are quite popular. 

Also read: The 5 best Kayak rentals in St Petersburg.

Expect to be wowed by the natural beauty of some of Florida’s most beautiful islands and beaches. 

Do you have any questions about kayaking in St Pete? Feel free to leave a comment below. 

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