N. Miami kayaking

-- Last Updated: Jan-20-06 1:05 AM EST --

going to so. florida for the first time the end of feb--can u recommend places to go---things to do and see---would like to rent a kayak and take a tour with an outfitter---also a lesson maybe---thanks for all your help----i plan on everglades-key largo-john p park---where else is a must see and do ---phil

Florida Bay Outfitters in Key Largo
Great people and right where you want to paddle.


You can go there (FBO -Florida Bay Outfitters) and rent a boat from them, launch off their Florida Bay side beach, and just paddle around -or more adventourously, head about a mile out and go into some of the marvelous waterways and saltwater creeks & mangrove tunnels.

Or -you might be able to rent and have them drop you at Garden Cove, and you can paddle amongt the mangrove islands on the Atlantic side from there -even better IMHO.

Or -you can put the boats on your car, drive over to Pennekamp, and launch there, traveling the myriad canoes trails among the mangrove tunnels -possibly the best option for you as it’s relatively easy paddling in a wholly new venue away from power craft for about 99% of the way.

First –I know you said near the end of the month -but if at all possible, try to make it down to Key Largo either Saturday the 4th of February or Sunday the 5th for the 7th Annual B&B Races and Florida Keys Paddlefest at Florida Bay Outfitters. It’s a great paddling event, to meet folks you might have only previously internet-connected with from all over the Eastern Seaboard who come down for it. Sally & I will be there both days as volunteers –my days as a half-fast racer are done, I do believe… LOL! Sally will work registration; I’ll be on the timing stand.

See http://www.kayakfloridakeys.com/,

and http://www.kayakfloridakeys.com/Events/paddlefestival.htm (that’s yours truly in the yellow shorts –Sally shot the picture a couple years ago), and then check out


That’s Paradise Paddlers, our ‘local’ club…

Now if you’re going to be “in” the Miami area, per se, here’s some suggestions, working North to South…

OLETA RIVER STATEPARK along the 163rd Street Causeway ($5/car) –a great loop inside the park for beginners, and then Biscayne Bay and the ‘picnic islands’ south of the Park for those with a bit more experience. They rent boats.

The City of Miami’s MORNINGSIDE PARK at NE 54th Street & Biscayne Blvd –a great City of Miami Park in its own right, with a boat ramp you use to launch and visit the various picnic islands about a half mile offshore. If you’re energetic, you can paddle north past Legion Park, up to Pelican Harbor. Free admission & parking. No rentals.

The City’s LEGION PARK at 62nd St & Biscayne Blvd –another City Park providing access to the same islands from about a mile farther north. Free admission & parking, no rentals.

Miami-Dade County’s PELICAN HARBOR PARK on the 79th Street Causeway -$5 a car? –where you launch and can paddle south to the picnic islands off Legion & Morningside Parks, or paddle north to the picnic island off of Treasure Island (where Channel 7 WSVN/FOX broadcasts from). No rentals.

The City of Miami Beach’s 15th Street Marina (name?) on Miami Beach –you launch, paddle under the Venetian, and can visit the Flagler Monument island, and circumnavigate any of the Venetian isles, peering into back yards along the way. Free admission, no non-trailor parking on-site, on-street metered parking. No rentals, but there’s a kayak shop just about across the street from the park.

The County-owned & operated Rickenbacker Causeway ($1.25 toll) –the first island over the bridge after the toll booths (Sailboard Beach) is rocky, but provides shallow, somewhat sheltered (from the wind) waters for quick, off-the-Beach paddles. You can also paddle over to the mainland Coconut Grove side and cruise the waterfront from Alice Wainwright Park south, paddling into the Vizcaya turning basin, and farther south, into some of the almost unknown canals on the land side of Fair Isle. You can paddle to the land side on the Brickell side of the Causeway & paddle the Brickell waterfront. However, that route goes by marinas and boat traffic will probably be higher. Free admission, free parking, no rentals.

The County-operated VIRGINIA KEY/HOBIE BEACH area on the Causeway –you can put in over at the Seaquarium end of the Bay side –there are extensive flats & shallows, good for casual, off-the-beach jaunts. You can, with a little more experience, paddle south into Bear Cut around the Seaquarium and see the UM Marine Sciences School and Key Biscayne across the Cut; you can land there to rest along some of the beach area if you need. Keep on going under the Bear Cut bridge (the one that links Virginia Key to Key Biscayne) and you’ll come to “Black Beach”, the area where African Americans flocked in the 50s and early 60s in the era of segregation to ‘go to the beach’. You’ll need to check the wind & surf conditions and the tides for forays into Bear Cut so you know what you’re in for and don’t get surprised. Costs $5 per car (?) admission, free parking, no rentals.

The County’s KEY BISCAYNE MARINA –you can put in at the public boat ramp –on the far end is a canoe/kayak launch area. You may or may not have to pay –depends on the folks manning the booth. We usually tell them we’re just going to drop the boats & gear and park in the area on the other side of the entry road (free parking) –otherwise, it’s $8, I think. From the launch, you paddle west along the “top” of the Bay side of the Key, along the golf course. It can be interesting on a clear day with all sorts of fish, and strange, often loud, arm-flapping, beer-drinking, club-swinging & flinging mammals on shore. You can paddle around the point into the back areas. I have, and collected around 60 golf balls –a friend got over a hundred. I told him to give me back the ones I left behind when I played there…

Our ouwn area of Miami -COCONUT GROVE: –launch from the public boat ramp, paddle north into & out of/past the marina, around/past the islands, and north past Kennedy park, Monty’s, and some very nice real estate up towards Fair Isle. Paddle south through the Gove Sailing Club anchorage, and past some arguably even nicer real estate… Both are relatively easy paddles but you need to watch for boat traffic coming and going to/from the marinas –it’ll be slow, and that’s good. No non-trailored parking -you need to park about a half-mile walk away on the other side of the Convention Center, but it’s free. No rentals.

Coral Gables Waterway –launch from under Metrorail across the street from the Coral Gables Fire Station just south of LeJeune –go right, deep into the heart of the Gables to the Biltmore Golf Course, or left to go to the Bay at Cocoplum. You need to be aware of the tide –incoming will push you inland –so you want to paddle towards the Bay, first, and then ride it on the way back; conversely, outgoing would suggest paddling upstream to the Golf Course, riding it back to the put in when you’re more tired. Park for free on the street across Ponce de Leon on the west side of the street. No rentals.

Matheson Hammock, Pinecrest ($5 admission?) Old Cutler Road and around 100th St. There are 3 launch areas withing the County Park, free parking, no rentals.

Deering Estate Addition & Chicken Key, Old Cutler Road free), Old Cutler south of the Deering Estate, right on the canal. Free admission & parking, no rentals.

Black Point Park -free admission, free parking, no rentals.

Biscayne National Park, SW 328 St (?), free admission, free parking, they may have tandem SOT & canoe rentals.

Key Largo (several spots –Florida Bay Outfitters at MM 104) and John Pennekamp State Park (LOTS of neat mangrove tunnels & trails, as well as some relatively easy ocean paddling)… both have rentals.

Islamorada, Tavernier, Indian Key, Matecumbe, Bahia Honda, Big Pine, Geiger, Cayo Hueso…

ENP (Everglades National Park) –either the regular areas accessed via Homestead, or the area over near Everglades City…

And a whole lot more…

Hope you can make it down for the B&B weekend. May you find one of these paddling venues to your liking, and enjoy nour (relatively) hospitable weather in February when you come down, and happily


-Frank in Miami

n miami kayaking
thanks paul and frank----that was great info–take care----phil