In this blog post, I’ll be talking about my favorite places to paddle and kayak to in Miami along with safety tips & supplies to bring along on your journey! Where to kayak in Miami always comes down to it being a beautiful and safe paddle as well as a route that gives me a sense of calmness. For me, kayaking and paddle boarding is about obtaining a meditative state that the water and surroundings provide. I hope that that’s what you get from kayaking in Miami too.
My Top Recommendations for Where To Kayak In Miami:
This is the most northern park out of all of the parks that I typically visit while Sunset Harbor is the most southern out of the parks that I frequent. Oleta River State Park is only $6.00 per vehicle and has a large footprint that allows you to paddle to numerous areas including Miami’s popular sandbar, Haulover Sand Bar. I love that you can paddle through the mangroves and park all day for a small fee as well as the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife.
The parking at this location is only the $6.00 entry fee while paddle board rentals are the average Miami price for renting which is around $30-$50 however you can find the exact price by visiting each individual website.
Another spot I love to visit is Sunset Harbor to be able to meander through the canals to gawk at some of Miami’s top architectural & residential gems or paddle out towards Flagler Memorial Island.
Parking: Parking is usually pretty limited at this boat ramp however if you’re renting a board you’re in luck as a parking garage spans Purdy Avenue with numerous paddle board rental companies only a few steps away from the launch. I’ve paddle boarded with both South Beach Kayak as well as TKS Miami.
During your paddle: This location is a great location for beginners as there is an array of fun and safe locations to paddle to along with being heavily saturated with other paddlers. I suggest staying close to the shorelines if a beginner while turning right at the harbor and right again for canal paddles. This will help to ensure seasoned boaters are nearby if you’re nervous on your board.
If you choose to turn right at the harbor on your board this will take you down the canals which is a calmer paddling experience while jetting out to Flagler Memorial Island (turning left at the harbor & boat launch) will be stronger tides as well as more boat traffic. This is the main drag for yachts and smaller boats to commute north and south on the beach. If you’re not a strong paddler or a swimmer, I suggest staying close to the shore of the islands or taking a more relaxed route down one of the canals. Never go out on a board without notifying someone of your trip or without a life vest. In terms of safety, I like to carry a whistle on my board as well as my phone in a dry case. I also use a sup tracker occasionally to track my route. If you’re comfortable with sharing your location (iphone) with someone, it makes for an easier tracking solution if an emergency were to occur!
Where to paddle from this location:
This park is right smack-dab in the middle of Miami and it’s an absolute gem. It is certainly one of the windier areas to drop your board (or a boat) in as there isn’t much protection in terms of land barriers. You’ll want to be a strong swimmer and paddler if departing from this location. You’ll have to cross the main path for boating traffic however be sure to read below for safety tips when on your board.
Parking: This is a large park therefore parking should not typically be an issue, especially for those without a boat trailer. When parking and facing the water, the boat ramp will be to the right with the kayak rental building to your left.
During your paddle: Morningside Park is on the main waterway for boating traffic, therefore if you are not a strong swimmer or kayaker, this is not a location I would recommend. As noted in the images below, the waves can become quite large due to the larger boat’s wake. While non-motorized personal flotation crafts have the right-of-way, kayaks are not always easy to see in a large boat moving at a faster speed.
Safety tips at this location: If you ever experience the feeling of a boat not seeing your kayak or paddleboard I suggest paddling out of the main waterway and putting your paddle up vertically. Using a paddle that has a brightly colored base is an important safety tool for less experienced paddlers.
Additionally, watching the winds on the day of your paddle is an important aspect of this paddle. I recommend wind speeds below 10knots for beginners while 10-14 should paddle with caution if crossing over to the island.
Where to paddle from this location: My favorite island to go to is Morningside picnic islands which is directly east of the park. This is an island that has a very narrow shoreline and is often not as saturated with boats much like the other surrounding islands. It’s a perfect place to head out to if you’re on a paddle board or kayak!
Fun fact about my addiction to water sports – I’ve been water skiing since I was 5, went to wake boarding camp in the middle of nowhere in Texas as a teen, and have been a deepwater slalom skier for as long as I can remember while being an outdoor water sports obsessed junkie forever. I also traded a juicer for my paddle board….
My last favorite park is Pine Tree Park which is another city-based park that has only a few parking spots and a small boat launch just large enough for a kayak, paddle board, or a small canoe. This is truly a hidden gem to be able to kayak in Miami. The parking is free for 3 hours and you’ll need to own your own board if going off from this launch. If your board is on the heavier side, you’ll want to carry a small cart to get your board from the car to the launch. This park is along the Miami River which is a unique view of some of the largest homes in Miami as well as the older condominiums that span the beach. It’s directly in front of Eden Roc and takes you as far south as 1 Hotel due to fallen trees that disrupt getting further southwest through the canals.
At the end of this post I’ve linked my favorite products that I take on my board each and every time, especially the ones that help in terms of safety for yourself as well as my favorite gear!
PRODUCTS I TAKE WITH ME ON EVERY TRIP:
Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera: I love this camera because you’re able to sync it with your phone and directly import the photos from camera to phone. It’s also a great camera to do any type of water activity with. I’ve hiked through the jungles and deserts of Mexico, swam with it all through Aruba, and take it on my board each and every time. I highly recommend it!
Adjustable Phone Tripod: I use this if I’m trying to take photos or videos with more stability. This is great if you paddle to an island and want to take videos with complete stillness.
Dry Bag: This is something that is an absolute must, especially when on a paddleboard, since they won’t have containers as a kayak may. This one isn’t the exact one that I have, however, I like that this one that is a backpack dry bag as well.
Macro Bars: Anyone remember power bars in cross country in middle school and high school that kept you fueled for hours? Yup, these are the elevated, more nutritious version of it. I really suggest ordering these online because you’ll save money. I always buy this on impulse at the store without realizing that it’s better to buy more quantities on the site since I consume so many. Use my coupon code “SHAREFIRST15” – click the link provided to enter the code! 🙂
Microfiber Towel: I use this when on my board because it’s extremely small when folded and drys really quickly. Often times I will sit on it if I need a barrier between my bum and my board. Once I get to land I squeeze all of the water out and let it dry, or use it for a towel to sit on!
Carafe: (To keep drinks cold) Pictured above! Although this is meant to hold wine, I love using this for cold drinks, whatever it is that you fancy while out on the water! I’ve never had an issue with keeping drinks cold when adding ice to it 🙂
Ice Cube Tray: I don’t exactly bring this on my trips but I do use this with the carafe as regular ice cubes will not fit into the spout. You’ll need to use smaller slender cubes to keep your water cold so this is what I use!
Waterproof Phone Case: I use this to protect my phone while adding it to my dry bag.
Coast Guard Approved Life Vest: Legally, you need to have one on board with you when out on the water. Don’t risk a struggle with the water if an emergency occurs. Just bring one.
Car Inverter: Yes, I like to actually make smoothies from my car. I am in a perpetual state of hunger. This is great to use with a SMALL blender. Check volt needs before purchasing! I use a magic bullet when using this one. It’s great if you’re traveling far to drop your board in and want to have a quick cold snack prior to getting out on the board that you packed for the day!
Inflatable Paddle Board: This is the exact paddle board that I have which I absolutely love. To give you an idea of my stature – I am 5’11” and weight around 135-140 and the board is massive yet perfect for my height and more than enough to support my weight! It takes about 8-10 minutes to inflate while it takes just the same to deflate. It is easy to carry and provides a smooth ride. My inflation marker broke as it’s a bit older however it’s very hard to over-inflate your inflatable boards FYI! Once it’s firm, you’ll have trouble blowing it up beyond advisable capacity but I do suggest inflating until exhaustion (if reader is broken) making for a sturdy ride. A few other options are below (as well as kiddo versions!)
Another bonus is that if you have an inflatable board you can paddle to one destination, deflate and meet up with a friend somewhere else. It will always come in handy, especially when you are controlling how much weight you are lifting!
Personal Safety Tips While You Kayak and Paddleboard In Miami
**These tips are meant to be for those going out on “open” water between islands and are meant for those who feel confident enough to paddle in these areas of Miami.**
Always carry your cell phone on your board (which means you need to have a water-proof carrying case and a dry bag.) This will allow you to call for help if you were to get stuck on an island or have an emergency on your board.
If your paddleboard is an inflatable board, always bring your pump!
Stay close to land if winds, tides, or swell picks up.
Open-Water Safety Tips
Always carry a Coast Guard Approved Life Vest or Personal Flotation Device. If you have two boarders, that means you need TWO vests. Check before purchasing if yours is coast guard approved as a kayak in Miami will still hold the same rules as a motorized vessel.
Respect the right of way of boats on the water. While you do have the right of way when you kayak in Miami, you run the risk of potentially not being seen in a smaller vessel. If you’re crossing the main drag of large boating traffic with motors, you as a paddler should wait for them to cross as you will take much longer to paddle across the drag vs a yacht. This is something that requires your best judgment and abilities.
If you feel a boat does not see you, a common tip amongst paddlers is to raise your paddle vertically from your board. If you feel comfortable standing, get as high as you can with your paddle. This allows the driver of the boat to see you. If you’re nervous about boating traffic in Miami be sure to buy a paddle or kayak that is brightly colored vs black.
Pay attention to WIND, SWELL, SUNSET/SUNRISE, TIDES, & WEATHER. This is extremely important when you kayak in Miami as weather can change in an instant. Be sure to download apps on your phone that show wind, swell, & tides. Never go out on the water if the winds, swell, or tides are questionable. Never fight nature! Always be sure to check the above before departing on any trip.
Pay attention to the angle of your board when large waves are nearby. Angle your board to hit head-on if the waves are extremely big and stop your paddling before they hit. Often times the waves will be stronger than your paddle. Balance is more important at this point to allow the waves to pass. Hold on & let the waves pass before reengaging in your paddling. If you feel you are about to get pummeled by the waves, angle your board accordingly before they hit and lay flat on your paddle board to secure your board as best as you can. (Think about when you were little taking a boogie board into shore. You traveled forward if your board was aligned with the waves.) This will help you stay safe if you hit large waves! If hitting large waves while in a kayak in Miami, it’s even more important to angle your boards to hit directly vs at an angle or from the side. This will help from excess water entering your kayak.
- Always check for your belongings before leaving any island and never leave any remains of any kind. Keep our oceans clean! Don’t pull a Dee and forget your dress on an island that you have to paddle back to for a second time against 14 knot winds!!!
- Bring sunscreen, a hat (wind-friendly) as well as a cover up of some form!
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