Gulf or Atlantic?

Taking the family to WDW in Oct. We’re flying, and staying on site, but we plan to rent a car one day and head to the beach. We aren’t pre-renting the car so that we can make it tentatively around the weather.

Question is: Should we go Gulf or Atlantic (nearly the same drive from Orlando, isn’t it?)?

Also what beach would you Floridians recommend?

Lastly, I’d like to be able to rent a yak and paddle the surf a bit. I have zero ocean or other big water experience or skills, so I’m thinking SOT tandem for me and at least one of the kids. Will stay very close to shore. Ill-advised? Other ideas? Are outfitters even available on the beach (likely, the rental car won’t have a rack)?



Gulf of Mexico
Would probably be a better choice for paddling. There is Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg. They have rentals on the water.

Also there is a county Park in St. Petersburg called Ft. Desoto Park.( google Ft. Desoto Park) They have kayak rentals on the water also. Lots of beaches, several fishing piers, and of course the fort. Last time I paddled there I got to see dolfin & manatee.

Have a great trip & enjoy. Kayakrazee

Canaveral or Mosquito Lagoon are my Favs

Atlantic is slightly closer to Orlando and the Gulf usually doesn’t get much surf. My favorite beach is Cape Canaveral National Seashore that has over 20 miles of undisturbed beach. Surf can be flat to huge, depending on weather.

If you go to Canaveral you can rent SOT kayaks from JB’s fishcamp (a great local “dive”) . You could paddle on the Mosquito Lagoon at the restaurant (protected water west of the Atlantic; see ) or cartop the kayaks a short way to the beach.

Greg Stamer

Be prepared to…
…get rolled around in the surf.

…get your face scraped across the bottom.

…get hit in the head with your own kayak.

…wonder which way may be up.

…have a great time doing it all.

The surf is fun, but even the little stuff that looks benign can be surprisingly violent. Be ready.

PFD and helmet are both good ideas. Enjoy!

I would head to the Atlantic side and spend an afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center while you are there.

Sounds fun, but maybe the kids aren’t ready for that (10 & 6). I’ll leave them on the beach and go solo. Kennedy’s a good idea, but with only 6 days, I’m not so sure we have the time, and we only want to rent a car one day.

Thanks for the input!

Gulf side
Go to Clearwater. The atlantic side is great for waves but maybe too rough for children.

Avoid Daytona like the plague unless you enjoy traffic fumes, loud music & posers driving along the beach showing off !!

First, a hotel may not be your best bet. My uncle rented a house about 15 minutes from Disney and it was about the same as a hotel.

Look through this website or other similar ones and you may save some money.

From the west side of Orlando to Clearwater it’s an easy 2 hour drive. If there’s traffic, you’re looking at even longer.

Local Spots in Tampa Bay area:

Weedon Island, St. Petersburg. mangroves, views of tampa bay, some interesting, narrow waterways through the mangroves.(3.7 mile, i think? course), note: difficult to pass during low tide, check tides before you head out. Also, bring bug spray.

Kayak rentals for Weedon Island:

Honeymoon Island, Dunedin. Top ranked beach, access to spoil islands, very pretty.

Kayak rentals for Honeymoon Island:

Seashell Island, Southern Pinellas County (Fort DeSoto). White sand beaches, many places to kayak to.

As I live over here, I’m somewhat familiar with the area. (Oh yeah, avoid Passage Key in Manatee County, unless you want to explain the birds and bees to your kids!!! - nudists like to kayak/boat to the island). As far as the east coast, I have no idea. But if you’re looking of calm waters, the Gulf side is what you want.


Gulf side sounds the way to go.
Thanks everyone for the advice and info. Got more than I expected. It’s very much appreciated.

As far as the rental condo idea, we looked into it a couple of years ago and had a great place recommended to us. Slightly cheaper, but w/ a rental car for the full week, plus the lack of ability to control dining expense w/ the Disney Dining plan, on-site is more convenient and a better way to go for us. Not everyone, but we like it better.

We’re staying in a cabin at Ft. Wilderness, so while my wife is satisfied with A/C, private bath and nice bed, me and the kids will still have the camping atmosphere.

Thanks again everyone!

Definitely the Gulf side!
Water is much warmer. Outstanding beaches down around Sarasota. Also, plenty of protected, bay paddling. Central FL, just northwest or Orlando also offers several inland rivers, such as Crystal River, Rainbow River, etc.

From the one who knows

– Last Updated: Sep-24-07 10:54 PM EST –

Hey YoS,
Orlando is roughly 40 mi. from the Atlantic (Merritt Island NWR.)and roughly 80 mi. from the Gulf of Mexico via SR-50. If your heading for the gulf and taking SR-50 you can take it through Brooksville and go to spring-fed Weeki-Wachee... or take US 98 as it splits from SR-50 on the east end of B'ville and follow it to US-19 and either cross US-19 and head to the many spring-fed Chassahowitzka River and it's NWR... or turn north on US-19 and check out the Homosassa River.
But if you want your children to really have a good time then I suggest the Chassahowitzka. I think they only rent canoes but it's worth the inconvenience. Springs on every creek, a national wildlife refuge about 3 mi. downstream with over 250 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 25 species of mammals. There's a good possibility to see eagle, osprey, dolphin, manatee, otters, and other various species way too numerous to mention here.
Check out the 'Chaz' on the web, you won't be dissappointed!
But since you're also looking for a beach you can dismiss the previously mentioned paddling spots and instead go to Dunedin beach/causeway by taking I-4 to I-275 in Tampa. Take I-275 north to Hillsborough Ave. Turn LEFT (west) on Hillsborough Ave. and follow it as it changes numerical names (580 to 584 in Oldsmar) and turn left onto Curlew Rd (586). Follow Curlew Rd. all the way out to Dunedin beach/causeway and Honeymoon Island. You can rent catamarans, PWCs, and possibly SOTs. From there you can paddle around either Honeymoon Island or Caladesi Island (both are state parks). Don't forget to do the "Stingray Shuffle" when wading. Have fun!

I found Dunedin on the map (while searching for rental outfitters) and Honeymoon island sounds good. Couldn’t tell off from the info I found, though what the beach is like.

Here’s what I’d like. Mostly a day at the beach, with the family, and an hour or two rental SOT tandem to take out into the surf and play, while the family is still on the beach. Nothing serious, no tripping. Kids may or may not go out with me at all (they aren’t all that adventurous).

The river sounds great, but with only 5.5 full days at Disney, it’s not in the cards. The beach day is the only one we’re devoting away from the resort.

Thanks again . . . .

Get them boogie boards or body surfing boards. They’ll have a blast.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are on the beach in surf.

Gulf, For Sure…
Google “kyaking Bradenton Beach, FL”

Bradenton is just south of St.Petersburg.

100 miles from Disney. I4 east to I75 south, exit State Road 64 and head west toward small town style beach resorts with big ones as well.

Plenty of beaches with free public access all over. Anna Maria island is a small beach community just north of bradenton beach. Check for an outfitter, I would not believe that there are not “beach business” yak rentals. It’s a layed back lifestyle, maybe what your looking for after the Disney Bustle and Bus Rides. My MIL lives in Dunedin, also I cannot deny the beauty of Honeymoon Island, that is true.

Have a safe & great trip. Welcome to FL.!

Oh, yeah…
You’re not going to find much “surf” on the gulf coast unless a storm brews up or your lucky enough for a Trawler to go by. Just thought I’d let you know. The gulf is like glass in the am and usually just rolling waves. If it’s surf you are looking for… Don’t go west!