S. Florida Christmas paddling

Carol and I want to go somewhere in the upper Florida Keys area for some CLEAR water paddling over the Christmas break.

Can anyone suggest:

  1. A good paddling site with fairly smooth water to match our just more than novice skills?

    We’d like to see some interesting aquatic life that doesn’t think of us as lunch! :slight_smile:
  2. A good campground or reasonable motel near the area?

    Dates will be somewhere in the 23-30 Dec 05 range.



Take a look at Kayak Voyagers

– Last Updated: Nov-29-05 7:05 PM EST –


Nice folks; good kayakers; good equipment; good food; the mothership is terrific! We did not try their small, do-it-yourself camping catamaran, but it looks interesting. It may be hard to book either at this late date.

If you contact them, tell John and Elke that David from Boston says hello.


Some thoughts

– Last Updated: Nov-30-05 7:11 AM EST –

First there are no reasonable hotel rates or vacancies in the upper Keys on those dates.
Secondly the State Park campgrounds in the Keys are booked solid eleven months in advance.
The only way you could get into a campground or motel is by someone else cancelling.

On the paddling (for what you describe):
A couple of thoughts come in mind:
First Put in a John Pennekamp State park and paddle the marked canoe trails. They have beautiful clear water for viewing the fish and if you get lucky you might see a spotted eagle ray. The canals are protected from the wind and no power boats are allowed.
If you feel adventourous and have your own kayaks or canoe, head out beyound the canoe trails and head north on the ocean side of El Radabob Key.
It is complete wilderness and you are bound to see small sharks cruising the area as well as barracuda, etc.. Check the weather report first to make sure you will have calm conditions.

Another option is on the Florida Bay side.
Put in at Florida Bay Outfitters which is about a half mile before the entrance to John Pennekamp state park and is on the right side of the road heading south.
There is free parking and a small sandy beach to launch from.
You will be in Black Water Sound. - Head to the left or south and follow the shore line around until you come to the inland water way, ( a mile and a half or so). Don't go left into the first canal which leads back through Key Largo to the Atlantic and also pass another small canal.
When you get to the inland water way you will have to be cautious of power boat traffic, but cut across to the right side and still head left, (south) and you will come to Dusenbury Creek on the right. It is a mangrove tunnel and will lead to Tarpoon Bay. When you get there head right or west. Go as far as you like and then return the same way.
Again; check the weather report before you go and if it is going to be windy don't since the chop can get quite large for a newbie.

Florida Bay Outfitters offer guided trips, and you could end up with fellow P-netter Grayhawk being your guide.

Another option (if the hurricnes have not wrecked it) is nine mile pond canoe trail in the Everglades National Park and you could camp at Long Pine Key, (not a key, just a national park campground). You can almost always get a campsite there, but make sure your tent or camper has no-seeum netting, (which some of the cheaper ones don't have).
Get a map of the trail from the ranger station.
Caution check with the rangers to make sure the hurricanes didn't blow away any of the markers. You could get lost real easy.

If you want a bunch more trips and put-ins, e-mail me and I will e-mail you our last years trip report, which has dozens of them.


excellent advise (nm)

…like Jack said…
…I think you’re out of luck camopground-wise, and I wouldn’t wait any longer to get motel reservations.

Yes, Pennenkamp is a nice paddle. Mostly mangroves. I’m leaving for the keys in just a few hours, so I can give you a report on conditions when I return on the 7th. I’m looking forward to paddling the north side of the keys, probably from Bahia Honda SP. You didn’t say if you’re taking your own boats, but there is an outfitter on Big Pine Key that will deliver to the launch spot you choose.

I did see a ray checking me out the last time I was in those clear shallow waters and it is a thrill.

Me too.
We’ll be headed to the Keys in a couple of days as well. Be sure you at least wave if you see a little red truck with 2 seayaks (one yellow/one white on it. We should be there into the New Year if all goes well. See ya there.


Keys or no Keys?
Well, if it’s too late to get a fun place to stay in or near the Keys for the Christmas holiday, we may just delay our Keys run until the summer, when Carol (a school teacher) is off for vacation.

It’s too far to drive for an “out and back” from our house.

So, we may be looking over on the west coast (of Florida) for something fun this time.

OR, we might just head back over to the Silver River and go all the way up into the park this time. Nice clear water, and the last time we were there, we didn’t see ONE gator!

I’m getting to the place where one mangrove looks like another to me. I like the critters and clear water as much as anything else at this point.