My wife and I need to plan a getaway. We are based in Maryland and have touring / sea kayaks. It has been a brutal few months and I am looking for recommendations of an area to escape to in February/March. We are new (one season) and do not yet have cold weather gear so warm water is a must. We want to still stay as close as possible to MD but realize we will need to load the car and travel.
My wife’s asked that I find a location that has good restaurants too. The other thing is she does not like open water (yet).
Any recommendations would be great!
The South Carolina coast is a possible fit. Still a bit cool but a good time to paddle some rivers like the Edisto or coastal bays like around Charleston or near Myrtle Beach.
North Florida has beautiful rivers like the Suwannee and is usually warm.
ish… Late Feb can be cool. There are two Floridas One below Tampa and the other above.
What are your feelings about alligators? Yay or nay?
I suggest Cedar Key FL… it is salt water so alligator free. It is tidal so you have to watch that but with the many islands the open water is broken up. Atsena Otie Key is just a 1500 foot open water crossing.
Other rivers beckon like the Seven Sisters area in Crystal Springs or the Homosassa River or the Chassahowitzka River.
The Silver River inland is a wonderful paddle and suitable for sea kayaks. Fresh water with gators and manatees. Juniper Run is inland nearby but a sea kayak will get caught in the numerous fast extreme bends.
We are going in Feb and paddle all over the State and starting in Cape San Blas near Port St Joe. It is open water but you can hug the shore and watch the thousands of hermit crabs scramble like a wave
For the time period you are talking about I would suggest central to southern Florida. In South Carolina both water and air temperatures range from the upper 50s to the lower 60s. A bit cold for no cold water gear, although a farmer john would probably be sufficient. South Carolina is also known for quite a bit of cloudy weather around then.
For protected water in Florida there are quite a few relatively slow flowing rivers worth exploring as well as protected coastal paddling. As mentioned, the Crystal River is particularly nice as are sections of the Suwanee, Withlacoochee, Peace, Myakka, and Caloosahatchee Rivers and the area around Sanibel Island. There are probably many others, but I’m not local to there. Although that is supposedly the dry season in Florida I’ve been there when there was flooding as well as times when some of the rivers were too dry to paddle. Current local knowledge is key. Check with local outfitters when making plans.
Hard to plan ahead. I used to go to Florida every spring in March. Sometimes it was cold sometimes it was great. Georgia and SC can have cold snaps. Best to go on short notice.
True. I’ve stayed at Suwannee River SP in early spring when it was balmy but the next year we woke to frost.
My brother lives near Lauderdale and says the weather is perfect now.
It has been quite warm this winter so far in FL (I’m in St Pete). Gulf water temps here are in the high 60s still, a Facebook memory from yesterday reminded me that this time last year the water was 10 degrees colder.
The spring fed rivers are 68-72 degrees year round. They are mostly located in the north and north-central part of the Florida peninsula. Generally easy paddling although currents can be strong when going upstream. Lots of wildlife to be seen, including alligators on some rivers. Also lots of tourists this time of year, best to stick to the weekdays.
A better bet for warmer weather and water would be the Naples/Marco Island area. Lots of good coastal paddling around - 10000 islands, Cape Romano, Keewaydin island, Goodland, Lover’s Key, maybe a day trip up to Sanibel.
Do keep in mind that this is the busy season in south Florida and availability of hotels, parking at launch sites etc may be limited. Be flexible and you should be OK.