by Carlene Cobb
Kayaking is a fun, family friendly and Eco-friendly way to keep cool this summer. As a bonus, the rhythmic motion that propels your kayak is also a great core workout. And kayaking makes it possible to glide quietly into areas where you can get close to egrets, herons, spoonbills, ibis, manatees, dolphins and other marine wildlife without disturbing them or their habitat. A knowledgeable tour guide will share a few secret places.
There are many wondrous waterways to explore by kayak, whether you want to paddle in clear, cold springs, rushing rivers or the saltwater bays and seas that all comprise Florida’s natural beauty and fragile ecosystem. A favorite local trek is the paddle through mangrove tunnels by kayak or stand-up paddle board (SUP) at Ted Sperling Park in South Lido Beach Nature Park – tucked away near St. Armand’s Circle.
Even in the summertime, temperatures are cooler in lush mangrove tunnels where leafy canopies provide shade, and the added sensory pleasure of the peace and quiet inside the tunnel increases its “coolness.” The splish-splash of rhythmic paddling is hushed as you yield to the currents and navigate narrow passageways lined with exposed mangrove roots. Coastal plants and sea grasses serve as nature’s nursery for fish, crustaceans and mollusks, and in some spots, the arching branches are so low, you have to duck to not bump your head. Patches of blue sky frame lacy greenery and bathe the tunnel in diffused sunlight that twinkles on the water.
Seek shade under ethereal mangrove
tunnels and experience the exquisite
beauty of Florida’s ecosystems
Another great paddle for a kayak or SUP is the Little Sarasota Bay trek to Palmer Point Beach, launching from Turtle Beach, south of Siesta Key. This passage takes you to a private beach that is only accessible by boat. Dock your kayak and climb a hill on a path through sea oats to discover a pristine beach and turquoise Gulf. Celebrate your discovery with a swim and a picnic before paddling back. This trip is a fabulous morning paddle; it is also spectacular for a sunset or full moon adventure by either kayak or SUP.
Kayak and SUP outfitters offering a variety of tours are plentiful throughout Sarasota County, and they travel to destinations outside the area, as well. If you and your family are new to kayak-ing, relax and enjoy. Tour guides are knowledgeable and personable, offering instructions, maps, life vests and tips for a cool, blue adventure into authentic Florida.
For more information about local kayak and SUP tours, visit Sarasota County Water Recreation at scgov.net/WaterRecreation/Pages/PaddleGuide.aspx. To learn more about kayak trips and how you can help preserve Florida’s waterways, contact the American Littoral Society online via their website: littoralsociety.org.