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12 Best Places To Go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding In Florida Keys

paddle boarding in florida keys

Let’s face it – no matter what place you choose to go paddle boarding in Florida Keys, it will always give you an unforgettable experience of tranquility while gliding on a paddleboard. This is one of the most well-liked activities in this island chain due to the immersive but relaxing experience it gives.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, the Keys offer diverse spots for this activity, catering to different skill levels and preferences. That’s why we created an ultimate list of the best places to go stand-up paddle boarding in Florida Keys!

1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Paddling in John Pennekamp State Park by Glorious Day Adventures

  • Address: 102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037, USA
  • Website: pennekamppark.com
  • Best for: Exploring the undersea park wonderland above shallow reefs

 

For an extraordinary day trip, paddle boarding in Key Largo is the ultimate experience. As the first underwater park in the US, John Pennekamp State Park boasts incredibly diverse reefs to explore. 

The water’s exceptional clarity means you’ll enjoy excellent visibility atop your SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) or anchor and snorkel up close. The park’s 50 miles of natural mangrove wilderness offer endless opportunities for day-long adventures. Rentals are available if you prefer not to bring your own equipment.

Paddle Board Rental

Price

Per Hour

$35

4 Hours or Less

$55

Convenient parking is provided within the park, and weekdays offer a more serene experience.

2. Bahia Honda State Park

Paddleboard Yoga in Bahia Honda by VISIT FLORIDA

  • Address: 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key FL 33043
  • Website: floridastateparks.org/BahiaHonda
  • Best for: Experiencing unique paddle boarding as they offer yoga classes on SUPs

 

Discover peace amid the pristine landscapes of Bahia Honda State Park. Calm waters, bordered by gentle palm trees and sandy beaches, beckon paddleboarding aficionados to leisurely exploration. Featuring beach access and camping amenities, guests have the opportunity to prolong their visit and immerse themselves fully in the park’s allure.

Convenient parking within the park guarantees effortless entry, while early mornings promise optimal conditions for tranquil paddleboarding outings.

3. Curry Hammock State Park

Paddle boarding at the secluded Curry Hammock State Park by 1StrangeAdventure

 

Find tranquility in the embrace of nature at Curry Hammock State Park, where unspoiled waters and verdant landscapes call out to you. This secret paradise offers a secluded haven for paddleboarding devotees in search of serenity.

Kayaks and paddleboards can be transported to the waterfront and launched from both the day-use area and campground. The shallow waters typically remain calm, with gentle currents. Visitors can paddle through the mangrove tunnel loop, circumnavigate the island of Deer Key, or venture out to a nearby sandbar for exploration and enjoyment.

Convenient parking within the park guarantees easy access, while weekdays offer the chance to relish the beauty of the surroundings in solitude.

4. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

fort zachary taylor paddle boarding in florida keys

 

Situated at the southernmost tip of Key West, you can skillfully navigate your SUP amidst boats traversing from the Key West Channel to the Atlantic Ocean. The shoreline at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park features rocky terrain and is more exposed to oceanic swells, making it advisable to have some basic paddleboarding skills beforehand.

Exploration opportunities abound beneath the surface, making it worthwhile to snorkel during your SUP excursion. Keep a lookout for sea turtles or dolphins gliding alongside you, and enjoy sightings of various bird species along the way.

Numerous tours and paddle board rentals in Key West are available, so you don’t have to worry if you didn’t bring your own equipment.

5. Dry Tortugas National Park

dry tortugas paddle boarding in florida keys
  • Address: Gulf of Mexico, West of Key West
  • Website: nps.gov/drto
  • Best for: Paddlers with any skill level as there are short and long paddling routes available

 

Dry Tortugas National Park offers a variety of choices tailored to your skill level. Garden Key presents shorter paddling routes near the shoreline, while Loggerhead Key boasts extensive routes extending to Garden Key.

The lengthier expeditions cater to intermediate paddlers, involving navigating through robust currents across the deep, open ocean. Aside from paddle boarding, Dry Tortugas camping is one of the most highly recommended experiences here.

6. Sombrero Beach

Paddle boarding Sombrero Beach by Ebb and Flow Adventures

 

Sombrero Beach is an idyllic spot for paddleboarders. The soft murmurs of waves meeting the shore and expansive vistas stretching to the horizon create an enchanting backdrop for an unforgettable outing. 

Amenities like picnic spots, showers, and restrooms elevate the beach visit, while convenient parking nearby streamlines the logistics. Mornings provide calm waters, ideal for easy paddleboarding adventures.

7. Smathers Beach

Activities at Smathers Beach by Adrenaline

 

At Smathers Beach, you’ll find a plethora of activities including parasailing, SUPs, kayaks, wind sailing, and beyond, ensuring a day filled with excitement for the whole family. As one of the best beaches in Florida Keys for families, it boasts rentals, crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand, and nearby mangroves waiting to be explored.

Smathers Beach provides a safe haven ideal for beginners or families seeking a secure location. Additionally, you can opt for a tour to delve into the surrounding backcountry and uncover hidden gems near Smathers Beach.

8. Higgs Beach

higgs beach paddle boarding in florida keys
  • Address: 1000 Atlantic Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040, USA
  • Website: monroecounty-fl.gov/235/Higgs-Beach
  • Best for: Novice paddlers who really want a tranquil experience while sun sets

 

Immerse yourself in the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere through Key West paddle boarding. With its turquoise waters and pristine sands, this destination offers some of the most breathtaking scenery for a paddleboarding getaway. Should you seek respite from the sun, simply retreat to the shore and seek shade beneath a swaying palm tree.

The shallow waters in this Key West beach cater perfectly to novice paddlers or anyone yearning for a truly tranquil experience. You can launch directly from the beach or opt for the extended wooden pier for a start further out. Additionally, the pier offers panoramic views around the headland, treating you to a mesmerizing sight of the sun setting into the Atlantic Ocean.

9. Stock Island

stock island paddle boarding in florida keys
  • Address: East of Key West
  • Best for: Gliding through mangroves and sightseeing marine life because of clear waters

 

Some people call this island, “The Key West You Never Knew.” They say it’s an often overlooked island before Key West. It has fewer crowds, but there’s no shortage of activities!

Stock Island promises the ultimate paddleboarding adventure. The transparent waters allow for clear views of the seabed, while the majestic mangroves offer a stunning backdrop throughout your journey. Keep an eye out for wildlife sightings amidst the mangroves. 

For those craving more than a leisurely paddleboarding session, Stock Island is the place to be. Paddle board rentals are available nearby, so there’s no need to worry if you haven’t brought your own gear.

10. The Sandbar in Islamorada

islamorada sandbar paddle boarding in florida keys

Image Source: Islamorada Times

  • Address: Offshore Mile Marker 84, Islamorada, FL
  • Best for: An all-inclusive experience on a crowded sandbar that’s only accessible by water

 

The renowned Islamorada sandbar lies just shy of a mile offshore, near Mile Marker 84 on the Atlantic Ocean side, adjacent to the Postcard Inn and Holiday Isles Marina. Particularly bustling during the summer months and holiday weekends, it becomes a focal point for hundreds of boats and transforms into a lively aquatic gathering. 

With its shallow waters, the sandbar hosts a myriad of amenities submerged beneath the surface, including lounge chairs, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and umbrellas. This beloved spot appeals to all age groups and even accommodates our four-legged companions.

A cherished gem of Islamorada, the sandbar is exclusively accessible by water. Whether by boats, wave runners, kayaks, or paddleboards, transportation to this aquatic hotspot offers various options. Several companies specialize in ferrying groups to this vibrant water extravaganza, ensuring everyone can partake in the festivities.

11. Sugarloaf Key

SUP fishing at Sugarloaf Key by Capt. Clint Moore | Excursions

  • Address: Lower Florida Keys
  • Best for: Beginners who want to start challenging themselves

 

Sugarloaf Key offers an excellent opportunity to paddle amidst wildlife while avoiding the crowds often found in the southern regions of Key West. It serves as an ideal starting point for beginners seeking to push their limits and venture into more distant areas, taking into account tidal currents.

Be sure to keep a lookout for the Bat Tower, situated within the heart of the mangrove ecosystem. Originally erected to control mosquitoes in the Key West vicinity, it adds an intriguing historical element to your paddling excursion.

12. Seven Mile Bridge

Cruising and surfing past the Seven Mile Bridge with 30 kt winds by Seychelle

  • Address: Very west end of the City of Marathon
  • Best for: Experienced paddlers who love a challenge; but it’s not for the faint of heart due to wind conditions

 

The Seven Mile Bridge in Key West is a must-see attraction for every tourist exploring the area, whether by road or sea, largely due to its appearance in numerous Hollywood action films such as True Lies, License to Kill, Mission Impossible III, and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

While it’s often enjoyed as part of scenic road trips on Miami to Key West drives and vice versa, offering views of the open ocean, you can also experience it up close, immersing yourself in some of Hollywood’s most memorable scenes. However, it’s important to note that this adventure isn’t for the faint-hearted. Only serious, experienced paddlers should attempt it from the water. Always check the conditions beforehand and carefully plan your route and timing.

For advanced and highly skilled paddleboard enthusiasts, adding this spot to your ultimate lifetime bucket list is a must.

Discover The Tranquility Of Paddle Boarding In Florida Keys

Paddle boarding in Florida Keys is an unforgettable experience that combines the beauty of the Keys’ turquoise waters with the tranquility of gliding on a paddleboard. There are numerous spots across the island chain where you can have the best paddle boarding experience.

No matter where you choose to paddleboard in the Florida Keys, you’re sure to be surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant marine life. Just be sure to check the weather and tide conditions before heading out, and always wear a life jacket for safety.

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Paddle Boarding In Florida Keys FAQs

Absolutely! Paddleboarding in the Florida Keys is a popular activity thanks to its calm, clear waters and stunning scenery. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, there are plenty of spots throughout the Keys to enjoy this activity.

Key West offers several launch points for paddleboarding. Some popular spots include Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. These locations provide easy access to the water and beautiful surroundings for your paddleboarding adventure.

Yes, you can paddleboard at Bahia Honda State Park. The park offers opportunities for paddleboarding in its calm, shallow waters along the shoreline. It’s a great place for both beginners and experienced paddlers to enjoy the natural beauty of the Florida Keys from the water.

Yes, you can paddleboard to the Islamorada Sandbar, also known as “The Sandbar.” Located off the coast of Islamorada, this shallow area is accessible by paddleboard and is a popular spot for boating, swimming, and enjoying the sun.

Paddleboarding to Indian Key is possible, but it’s a longer journey and may require more advanced paddling skills. Indian Key is an uninhabited island located a few miles off the coast of Islamorada. It’s a historic site with ruins and scenic views, making it a rewarding destination for experienced paddlers.

In Florida, the law requires that you have a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket on board your paddleboard for each person. While you’re not required to wear it at all times, it’s highly recommended, especially for inexperienced paddlers or when paddling in rougher conditions. It’s always important to prioritize safety while enjoying water activities in Florida’s beautiful waters.

Janelle
Author: Janelle

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