Are you looking for places to go kayaking in Orlando, Florida? You are in the right place.
This article will walk you through the best kayaking in Orlando and tell you all you need to know. We will cover where to go kayaking in Orlando, paddle boarding in Orlando, and kayak rental.
Orlando is known for its world-famous theme parks and attractions, but it’s also home to some of the best kayaking in central Florida. From tranquil springs to winding rivers and peaceful lakes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner.
We’ll explore ten of the best places for kayaking in Orlando and nearby, including the emerald-colored waters of Kings Landing, the scenic beauty of Juniper Springs, and the diverse wildlife of the Withlacoochee River.
So are you ready for us to walk you through all you need to know about Orlando kayaking? Pull up a chair, grab a cold drink, and let’s get started.
10 Best Places For Kayaking In Orlando (And Nearby!)
Emerald Cut At Kings Landing
Kings Landing is one of the best places to go kayaking or canoeing in Orlando. It’s a beautiful unique area with emerald waters, stunning views, and a peaceful feeling.
Located in Apopka about 30 miles from Orlando it’s one of the most picturesque springs in the state. Just so you know Kings Landing is a section of Rock Springs Run and the Emerald Cut is a section of Kings Landing. It can get very confusing.
Kings Landing is where you will find the kayak launch spot and you will need to go upstream to get to The Emerald Cut which is consistently rated as the number one paddle run in Central Florida. This 3/4 of a mile waterway is known for some of the best kayaking in central Florida.
Our advice is to get there early and make sure you have suncream and insect repellent. If it has been raining you also might want to call ahead as heavy rain sometimes turns the water brown which might not be what you are wanting.
For more tips and prices check out our article on Kings Landing Florida.
Merrit Island Refuge
Merrit Island Refuge is a great place to go kayaking near Orlando. It’s much more peaceful and quiet than some of the other locations and you will see plenty of wildlife.
Open 365 days a year and is known for its abundance of incredible unique Florida marine life and birds. Over 500 species of wildlife and more than 140 species of freshwater and saltwater fish have called this place home.
Merrit Island Refuge is located along Florida’s coast about 60 miles east of the city of Orlando and it’s one of the places you can go bioluminescent kayaking in Orlando. It’s also one of the places where you can rent a clear-bottom kayak in Orlando.
Before you go check the weather forecast and the tidal times as this can affect your experience. And also please note this is one of the places you can go kayaking with manatees in Orlando so please be aware if these gentle giants are around and leave them be.
This is one of the perfect places for night kayaking in Orlando.
Wekiwa Springs is one of the best springs in Orlando and one of the closest. About a 20-minute drive from Orlando, it’s the perfect spot for a spot of relaxing and kayaking.
Orlando springs kayaking doesn’t get much better than here. With azure spring waters and incredible purple flowers, it’s a beautiful spot. The waters are home to several species of fish and other wildlife and lush vegetation along the shoreline makes it the perfect place for kayaking around Orlando.
Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a relaxing break on the shore, and be sure to wear water shoes or sandals to protect your feet on the rocky bottom.
Kayak the Brevard Zoo
Yes, you did hear that right in Florida you can Kayak in a zoo. In fact, the only zoo in the country to offer guided kayaking tours around an animal exhibit.
This is some of the best kayaking in Orlando and be prepared to see giraffes, white rhinos, and impala to name but a few. You can go on the Expedition Africa tour or go off alone on a self-guided tour around Wild Florida. They have a restored Wetland area where you can discover the local wildlife.
The zoo is situated in Melbourne, Florida about 60 miles away from Orlando. Please note under 5’s are not allowed to kayak at the zoo and under 12s must be accompanied by an adult. You get tickets at Expedition Africa, the main gate, the Wetland Outpost, or Zoo’s Cape to Cairo train station once in the park and there is a cost to them.
This is one of the most unusual Orlando kayaking experiences around and everyone will love it.
This is one of the best places for kayaking around Orlando. It’s about 90 miles away from the city in the Ocala National Forest and is beautiful.
If you are looking for clear kayaking in Orlando this is the place to come. It’s famous for its glass-bottomed boat and crystal-clear waters. This is one of the largest and most visited of all the Florida springs so be prepared for more crowds here.
The spring is located in the 4,000-acre Silver Springs State Park so there is always lots to see in and out of the kayak. This is also a great place for paddle boarding in Orlando.
This is also one of the places you can go kayaking with manatees in Orlando, they even have tours with clear kayaks. Kayak rental in Orlando is available here and there is a lunch fee if you bring your equipment.
This is the place to come and hire a clear bottom kayak in Orlando.
Blackwater Creek and Lake Norris
If you are looking for some more wild kayaking near Orlando then this is the place to come. It’s best to have your own kayak but there are rental places.
Blackwater Creek is a lesser-known tributary of the Wekiva River system that leads to Lake Norris. Most agree Lake Norris is among one of the most beautiful places in Florida. If you want to get out into nature and see plenty of wildlife this is the area to come.
The trailhead is within the Lake Norris Conservation Area right off Lake Norris Road but it can get a bit hidden due to undergrowth so keep an eye out. You paddle upstream to Lake Norris and it’s less than a mile.
It truly is an incredible experience you feel like you are surrounded by vegetation and towards Lake Norris, you will find yourself paddling among dwarf cypress trees
You are canoeing here in one of the oldest cypress swamps in Florida, the water is dark and the canopy above you is thick. Please be aware of snakes and alligators and make sure you are a good kayaker.
This canoeing in Orlando is not one for beginners. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and be prepared to portage your kayak around logjams and shallow areas.
Winter Park Chain of Lakes
When it comes to where to go kayaking in Orlando I have to say this place is high on our list. This area is known for its beauty and I imagine it looks incredible from a kayak.
The Winter Park Chain is six main bodies of water, all connected by canals. Located in Winter Park and Maitland close to download Orlando this place is very popular.
The route is 4.5 miles long and offers little shelter so be prepared and protect yourself from the sun and heat. Dinky Dock Park is the easiest place to launch but get there early as the car park can get full.
It’s a very relaxing easy-going paddle. Orlando kayak rental is in abundance here so you don’t need to come with any equipment unless you want to.
90 miles north of Orlando is Juniper Springs which is one of the oldest and best-known recreation areas on the East Coast. In the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is a beautiful and peaceful place to kayak.
The water is crystal clear, the scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife is abundant. There will be plenty to see while you are paddling down the river. Kayak rental in Orlando is available here.
If you are after clear kayaking in Orlando then this is the place to come. You can make a real day of it and bring a picnic to enjoy in one of the picnic areas.
Juniper Run which starts in the springs is one of the top 25 canoe runs in America. It starts just below the springs and is a 7-mile journey through winding waterways and dense tree canopy. It’s an intermediate run but popular all year round.
The southern part of the Withlacoochee River is a designated “Outstanding Florida Waterway” and therefore the kayaking is wonderful. Originating from a green swamp it’s considered a blackwater river meaning it’s slow-moving and dark.
The designated paddling trails are 76 miles from Lacoochee to Dunnellon. The southern section near Nobleton is quiet, sheltered, and extremely scenic.
You can launch at Hog Island Recreation Area, south of Nobleton, Iron Bridge, Lacoochee, Silver Lake Recreation Complex, or the Little Withlacoochee River.
Check the water levels and conditions before you go, and be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the long paddle. Expect about an hour and a half drive depending on where you are going to launch.
Shingle Creek Kissimmee
Located just 20 miles from Orlando, Shingle Creek Kissimmee is a great place to kayak in Orlando if you’re short on time or just want to stay close to the city. This beautiful and peaceful waterway is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and many different bird species.
It’s a round trip of about 4 miles. The launch is at Steffee Landing in Shingle Creek Regional Park. Orlando kayak rental is available here as are guided tours if that is your thing.
If you are looking for a place to easily go kayaking in Orlando, Florida this is it.
As you can see when it comes to places in kayaking in Orlando, Florida there are so many. Whether you wnat to go bioluminescent kayaking in Orlando, night kayaking in Orlando, or kayaking with manatees in Orlando there is so much to choose from.
Whichever of these locations you choose we know you will love it and have a great time. Please come back and tell us about your experience.