Tropical Winter Trip w/ Kayaking

Hi Paddlers! As it starts to get cold, my mind is turning to a winter kayak trip someplace warm. I am looking for suggestions for a destination. Here are my parameters:

*Relatively inexpensive flight from Chicago ($400 or less)

*Tropical, not Everglades (already been there)

*Ideally a 4day, 3night kayak camping excursion on the ocean.

I like the idea of Baja, but flights are in the $600 range. Costa Rica is looking nice, has anyone paddled there?

I welcome any suggestions for outfitters as well, since I’d prefer to just show up and paddle.


Belize? Bahamas?

Have you been to either?
I’m looking for first hand suggestions, as well as outfitter recommendations. Thanks!

Key West or maybe the southern tip of TX?

Not exactly tropical, but highs in the upper 70 and mid 80s is nice when you have some sunshine.

Might want to wait for that storm to pass FL.


Have considered Bahia Honda or the Keys as a destination.

Have been to Belize twice,
first time did an eight day island trip, base camp kayaking, with Island Expiditions , a company out of Cananda with facilities in Belize. It was a great trip, plenty of good paddling, snorkeling and food. Highly reccomend them. Paddling on your own is good as well but rentals can be exspensive and the best paddles are out on the islands which you need to hire a boat to get out to. That’s very expensive. But, Belize is a great place to visit, relatively cheap with lots of touring options.

Dry Tortugas
Just got back from Dry Tortugas NP, 70 miles off Key West. We didn’t camp or paddle there, but the ferry service will indeed carry kayaks and camping gear to the island:

You’ll probably have to rent your boat from a nearby outfitter, and I don’t know of any to suggest.

From the main island, you can paddle to nearby (3 miles) Loggerhead Key for some spectacular snorkeling and a tour of the historic lighthouse. There are several other nearby keys and islands to which you can paddle, though landing may be limited by NPS restrictions.

I also enjoyed a wonderful day-paddle off Pensacola Beach and down to Fort Pickens NP about a year ago:

Hope this helps!


What did you do at Dry Tortugas?
That’s on my wish list. But I would like to paddle while I’m there, and snorkel if that’s good.

OP: Sea Kayaker Magazine often has an ad from a Florida company that offers instructional tours from a mothership. I have no idea how good they are, but you could contact them. The photo looked tropical though I don’t know where it was taken.

Slickrock offers Belize trips, and they recently sent me a promotional e-mail, as they do every year at this time. You can often get discounts to fill vacancies on trips that are coming up soon.

We were at the Dry tortugas
a few years ago.

As much as it is a neat place to visit, there are a lot better paddling and snorkling opportunities right off the main Florida Keys.

The Island and fort are a little over a mile in diameter and there are only a couple of small keys close by, one of which is off limits for landing, so at best you can have only two days of paddling with out just repeating the same route.

There are no reefs there, so for snorkling you’ll see just the normal small tropical fish.

The old fort itself and the history of it is very interesting for a one day visit.



If you do decide to go, check out the length limitation of the kayak that the particular ferry that you go on allows. When we went, the maximum length was 16 feet

if your interested in the Dry Tortugas,
i camped there for four days a couple of years ago. We brought our boats over on the tour boat, mine was a 17’ boreal Alvik. The folks on the tour boat were great about it, seemed pleased that there were folks going out there to paddle. As jack said the paddling is limited as well as the snorkeling and you have to deal with the swarms of tourists from ten to two, but once they leave you’ve got the island to yourself essentially. The park staff are friendly but not in your face. Sunsets and stars are amazing! Besure to bring lots of water, there’s none available on the island although the tour boat folks can be accomadating.

Florida Keys
The Florida Keys in Fall/Spring are about the only thing I miss about the east coast, except for maybe Memphis BBQ.

Totally different than the Everglades.

Baja is awesome, but you need a passport now. Back in my day you only needed a American voter registration card

No, there was a time we were
seriously considering a Belize trip, but they got raked by a hurricane. That was a few years ago and things should be back to normal.

Uncommon Adventures (Michael Gray) offers lodge based kayaking on Roatan in Honduras, definitely tropical. I’ve been to Roatan diving…very laid back, and I’ve been on a trip with Michael elsewhere, so I can vouch for him and the location, although I haven’t combined the two (yet). The website has all the info.


Guess you missed this part:

*Relatively inexpensive flight from Chicago ($400 or less)

Thanks anyways!

Sounds amazing

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 12:21 PM EST –

Reading the ferry company's website, it says they do not allow fuel on board. Did you cook solely with charcoal, or were you allowed to bring camping stoves with fuel?

There were some very cheap
flights available recently to Roatan, might check into it. Things have changed down there…

For the dry tortugas, the ferry
has restrictions like no fuel and weight limits but when I went out no-one checked our gear or said anything about weight. We did take self lighting charcoal and sterno for cooking. Forget a fire at night, there’s just not any amount of driftwood.

im off for a month-solo kayak from Krabi to Maylasia and back in Thailand!!! Doesnt get any better than that!!!

cooking on Dry Tort
No fires at night but if you make a charcoal HOBO stove you will be fine. We camped there for 3 nights and had the best time ever. Good kayaking, fun snorkling, great history and you can catch a jumbo shark on a handline off the ferry dock at night.

Hobo stoves are made from a 1 guart paint can. Punch some holes in the bottom and sides. Add about 9 pieces of self starting charcoal. Light and in a few minutes you have a single burner stove that will boil water. Dont miss the Dry Torts.

One possibility in Belize

This company sent me an e-mail listing discounts for their upcoming Belize trips. The above webpage shows the regular prices, not the discounted ones. I don’t know if this fits the OP’s wants, but it might be useful for other people reading this thread. It looks nice if you are seeking an active vacation that is not an “expedition,” or if there are several water sports you would like to try.

For the record, I have never gone on any of this outfitter’s trips, nor do I have any financial interest behind this suggestion.