Florida, with its nearly endless coastline, tranquil rivers, and picturesque lakes, is a paradise for paddle boarders. In this blog, we'll journey through the best paddle boarding spots that this sunny state has to offer, from the serene waters of the Keys in the south to the vibrant coastlines of Central and Coastal Florida. Whether you're a seasoned paddler or just starting out, these destinations promise an unforgettable experience on the water.
As enthusiasts of water sports and advocates of sun safety, we understand the importance of being well-equipped. That's why we'll also share some stylish yet protective gear tips from Berry Jane Swimwear, perfect for those sunny days out on the water. So grab your paddle board, put on your favorite Berry Jane UPF rash guard, and let's dive into the wonderful world of paddle boarding in Florida!
Best Paddle Boarding Locations in Florida
Southern Florida is a treasure trove for paddle boarders. The Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands, offer crystal-clear waters perfect for exploring marine life. Imagine gliding over shallow reefs, spotting colorful fish, and even the occasional dolphin! Further inland, the Everglades present a unique paddling experience through mangrove tunnels and calm waters, where you can peacefully coexist with nature, spotting birds and maybe even a manatee.
Florida Mangroves, Image Credit: environmentamerica.org
In Central Florida, the allure of paddle boarding takes a different turn. The Orlando area, often celebrated for its theme parks, also boasts serene waterways ideal for paddlers. The Wekiva River and its spring-fed streams offer clear, cool waters and shaded routes, making it a refreshing escape from the Florida heat. Paddle through this natural haven and you might catch glimpses of local wildlife like herons and turtles, all while enjoying a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life.
Florida’s coastal regions are a paddle boarder's dream. On the Gulf Coast, places like Clearwater Beach provide gentle waves and stunning sunsets, perfect for a leisurely paddle session. Over on the Space Coast, the Indian River Lagoon offers a vast, biodiverse estuary with calm waters, ideal for both beginners and experienced paddlers. Here, the chance to paddle alongside friendly manatees and witness bioluminescent organisms during night paddles makes it an extraordinary experience.
Safety Tips While Paddle Boarding in Florida
Paddle boarding in Florida is an exhilarating experience, but safety should always be your top priority. Regardless of where you are paddling, always check the weather forecast before heading out. Sudden storms can crop up, especially in the summer months. It's also important to be aware of water currents and tides, as they can significantly affect your paddling experience.
When paddling in areas with boat traffic, stay visible by using a brightly colored board or wearing high-visibility clothing. Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – it's not just a safety measure, but also a legal requirement in many places.
Additionally, it's wise to paddle with a buddy, especially in unfamiliar waters. Not only does this enhance your safety, but it also makes the experience more enjoyable. Lastly, always stay hydrated and take breaks as needed, especially under the Florida sun.
What to Watch Out for When Paddle Boarding in Florida
Florida's waters are as diverse as they are beautiful, but they come with their own set of challenges. One of the key hazards to be aware of is the presence of jellyfish. Certain times of the year see higher jellyfish populations, so it's wise to check local reports before heading out. Wearing the proper clothing such as rash guards and swim leggings may protect you from jellyfish stings.
Also, be mindful of areas with sharp corals and oyster beds, especially in shallow waters, to avoid injuries.
Boat traffic is another factor, particularly in popular areas. Stay alert and keep a safe distance from larger vessels. Paying attention to boating lanes and restricted areas is crucial for your safety.
Most notably, Florida is home to alligators, especially in freshwater environments like rivers and lakes. While attacks are rare, it's important to respect their space. Avoid paddling near the edges of water bodies where alligators may be nesting and never feed or attempt to approach them.
Local Hotspots and Hidden Gems for Paddle Boarding in Florida
Florida is full of hidden paddle boarding gems waiting to be explored. In the heart of Miami, the Oleta River State Park offers a tranquil escape with its calm waters, perfect for beginners or those seeking a peaceful paddle. For a more adventurous experience, try the Loxahatchee River near Jupiter, known for its wild, natural scenery and a chance to paddle under a canopy of ancient cypress trees.
Rainbow Springs State Park. Image Credit: Al Dorrington
Another hidden treasure is the Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, offering crystal-clear waters and vibrant underwater life, making it ideal for paddle boarders who love to explore nature's underwater beauty. One thing to note, however, Rainbow Springs State Park has very high visitation on weekends and holidays. When the park reaches capacity at the headsprings entrance, the park will close to all visitors.
Best Time of the Year to Paddle Board in Florida
Timing is everything when it comes to paddle boarding in Florida. The best months are typically March through May and September through November. During these periods, you'll enjoy milder temperatures, less rainfall, and fewer thunderstorms compared to the hot and humid summer months. These conditions not only make for a more comfortable paddle boarding experience but also ensure clearer waters and better wildlife sightings.
Summer can be tempting with its warm waters, but be prepared for frequent afternoon thunderstorms and higher humidity. Winter, while cooler, offers some of the clearest waters, especially in South Florida, making it a great time for those who don’t mind a slight chill.
Tips to Avoid Sunburn When Paddle Boarding
When paddle boarding in Florida's sunny climate, protecting your skin is crucial. Berry Jane's UPF Swimwear offers stylish yet functional solutions with their UPF rash guards and swim leggings. These pieces are not only fun and trendy but also provide excellent sun protection, blocking harmful UV rays.
Pairing a Berry Jane UPF rash guard with swim leggings ensures maximum coverage while keeping you protected and comfortable on the water. Don't forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin areas, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses for added protection. Remember, sun safety is stylish and essential for a carefree paddle boarding experience!