Best sit-on-top for Florida paddling

Would love to get some local feedback on the best sit-on-top kayaks. I have just moved to central Florida and am an experienced paddler. I will mostly be paddling day trips on rivers such as the Silver River, Alexander Springs, Santa Fe River, etc. but will occasionally take it out on small lakes. I am leaning toward the Wilderness Systems Tarpon but am not sure whether to go with the 10 foot or 12 foot (weight is a factor). I am used to smaller boats and do not need a touring boat, but I would like a reasonable amount of speed. Am open to any feedback on the Tarpons or any other kayak that in your experience is very suitable for the type of paddling around here. I definitely want a sit-on-top, single not tandem. Thanks for your input.

Hi Liz,
I paddle those very streams here in central Florida. I have a Hurricane Phoenix 120 SOT; very pretty little boat, 40 lbs, reasonably fast, comfortable. My most frequent paddling buddy has an Eddyline Skylark (12 footer) and the two boats more along well together.

I also regularly paddle a Tarpon 100 that is provided by the state park where I volunteer. Love the Tarpon, too, but it weighs 55 lbs, and that is the only reason I wouldn’t consider one for my personal use. The hull is quieter than the Phoenix, and I do like that.

Eddyline has the new 12 ft Calypso SOT which I have not tried yet, and they’re coming out soon with a 10 ft SOT.

Check out Hunt Johnson Wave Witch

Also Cobra Strike and Play …

Second Seadart + Epic GPX SOT
if can find used one.

Wave Witches
look very cool, and light weight. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in Florida.

Take a look at the Kaskazi Kayaks. Fast stable well made boats for big water. Some of the best SOTs come from South Africa and the only dealer in the USA is in Florida.

even though the OP stated explicity a light 10’-12’ SOT for rivers and small lakes occaisonally, you recommend a SOT for “Big water…”


Consider the Epic V-8
I realize that it’s longer than your 12’ max, it’s not heavy. Very stable, especially for an experienced paddler. Not good for camping though (if that’s a consideration). Great day boat.

Welcome to FL, Liz!
I can’t recommend a boat, but I’ll recommend a dealer.

Florida Kayak Co. in Crystal River. Matt and Sue run a top notch business, and will help you find the right fit. Here’s a link…

Check out Matt’s club paddle trips, and if you want info on Lake Co. River Runners, just e-mail me and I’ll forward the newsletter to you. It’s a great bunch and we love the rivers that you refer to.

Hope to see you on the water- My wife paddles a pink sea kayak, and I’m usually seen in a stars and stripes boat on river trips, you’ll know us, we stick out like a sore thumb.


Once you figure out what you want, check Craigslist. It’s pretty big down here in FL, usually has quite a few listings.

Love my Manta Ray 12 . . .
fishing kayak by Native Watercraft. It’s not light, but it’s a good handling boat - have paddled it on those Florida rivers, as well as mild WW in NC. Read the reviews for all the boats you are considering - I found this very helpful.

It’s a dry ride, compared to many SOTs - unless you boof off a high bank or something.

You’re right. That’s what I get for posting pre coffee.

I’d vote for a Scupper Pro,
though it’s 14 1/2 ft. Paddles well and fairly fast as far sit-on-tops go. Or go light and get an ultralight Tarpon 120.

Try to look for kayaks…it scans thru every Craigslist in the state.