3 of the Best Kayaking Spots in South Florida

Opportunities abound for South Florida visitors who prefer to paddle their way through nature's vistas. Whether you bring your own kayak or choose to rent, you'll find these three destinations ideal for a quiet day on a lake, river or estuary.

Kayakking Water Sports
Okeeheelee Park
7715 Forest Hill Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL
Tel: 561-304-1344

Kayakking Water Sports operates a kayak rental boathouse right in the middle of Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. Rates are $13 for a single kayak rental and $18 for a tandem, which buys you one hour of kayaking. If you bring your own kayak, you can slide right into the water using the easy access ramp, just a few feet from the rental boathouse. Ample free parking is only steps away, so you won't have far to carry your gear.

The lake is a natural formation, with fresh water from rain. Water levels rise and lower according to rainfall amounts. Plenty of fish thrive beneath the surface, so you'll easily be able to spot fish such as bass and bluegill swimming beneath and around your kayak. Families of ducks happily coexist with kayakers, and nest in the brush on the shorelines.

The kayaking here is an open water experience without twists and turns, but it offers a peaceful oasis that is easily accessible from the nearby towns of Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Greenacres.

In the middle of the lake is a very small island, where you can disembark from your kayak and explore on foot. Bring along some sandals, as some of the branches and leaves can be sharp underfoot.

Canoe Outfitters of Florida
Riverbend Park
Loxahatchee River
9060 W. Indiantown Road
Jupiter, FL

At Riverbend Park in Jupiter, kayak on a scenic 5-mile stretch of the Loxahatchee River. Canoe Outfitters is open Thursday through Monday, and lines seem to be long every day, so reservations are recommended. Rent from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The water level varies according to rainfall, and sometimes the depth is less than a foot. In spots where the water is too shallow to paddle, kayakers simply get out and pull the boat until the water is deeper. There is plenty of tropical flora to look at, including overhanging branches and vines. Alligators live on this river, and while they commonly make an appearance, they are not aggressive unless aggravated.

The current can be strong. Since this trip is two-way, save energy for the paddle back upstream to return the kayak and get back to your car. A hot spot for teenagers looking to cool off, this river features a handful of man-made dams, where teens can climb trees and rope swings and jump back into the water.

A trip to Riverbend Park provides an entire day's worth of kayaking fun for the whole family.

Singer Island Outdoor Center
Phil Foster Park
900 E. Blue Heron Boulevard
Riviera Beach, FL

Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Singer Island Outdoor Center rents single-person kayaks for $25 an hour and two-person kayaks for $40 an hour. This hidden spot can be reached by heading east on E. Blue Heron Drive, just off of I-95. At the bottom of the intracoastal bridge, take a left at the light and you'll see the sign for Phil Foster Park.

Take a leisurely kayak trip alongside Singer Island, head out to Peanut Island, or paddle your kayak to the beautiful and tropical Munyon Islands. In the water, kayakers commonly spot rays, sea turtles and a variety of other fish.

Kate Supino writes from South Florida, where she can usually be found in or near a body of water.