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Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

Florida is an amazing place to enjoy kayaking. But you might ask yourself: where are the best springs for kayaking in Florida? No matter if you are a local or on vacation, kayaking is a great sport for everyone who loves to lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy nature.

Florida springs are the best spot for kayaking during the hot and humid summer month. With a constant temperature around 72 degrees, this watersport activity will keep you cool and is a great way to escape the hot sun.

Our guide to the best springs for kayaking in Florida introduces you to stunning waterways all over the sunshine state. We tell you where to access the springs and if you need to bring your own kayak or if there is a rental opportunity. 

Have you considered a road trip with camping around Florida? Your biggest challenge might be to decide where to go and where to stay. With swimming, biking, snorkeling opportunities at most springs, this tour to the best springs for kayaking in Florida, there’s something there for everyone in the family!

Our little guide will help you plan and make your dream kayaking trip a reality. The key is just to know what’s out there and to make plans before you go.

And so with all of that in mind, please study our guide to the best springs for kayaking in Florida.

Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs has crystal clear water with a sapphire-blue tint. The scenery is breathtaking, and a serene quietness is setting in as you enjoy nature at its prime. The farther up river you go, the bluer the water gets.

Location: Rainbow springs is located within Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon. Please note that during the summer there is an extra entrance for tubing! Tube rental and shuttle available. (for more details, call guest service: 833-945-2925)

Hours: Hours are 8 am to sunset daily. But please make sure you arrive early. The park closes once it reaches capacity. 

Fee: $2 per person. Children under 6 admitted free.

Launch: The location at the headsprings has a place to launch kayaks. Visitors should be prepared to port their vessel 1,800 feet from the parking area to the launch area, due to no vehicle access to the river within the park.

Rentals: yes

Camping: Rainbow Springs State Park’s campground is located along the Rainbow River at a separate facility a few miles from the main headspring and day use area.

Silver Springs – Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

The Silver River flows five miles from the head spring to its confluence with the Ocklawaha River, completely within the confines and protection of Silver Springs State Park. The river offers a wide, wild and scenic paddle through Florida’s heartland. You should know a few things before you go. The first is the current. Silver River can be very dangerous if you are not careful while kayaking because of its swift and powerful current. Furthermore, the river can be quite cold, so it is important to be prepared for the cold weather. Lastly, Silver Springs can be quite crowded, so it is important to choose a day and time when it is not too busy.

Location: Silver Springs is also located within Ocala National Forest. Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488, United States

Hours: Silver Springs State Park is open 7 days a week year-round, including ALL holidays, from 8 am. to sundown

Fees: There are several entrances to the park, and admission fees paid at one entrance authorizes admissions to all other areas. If you park at the Main Entrance on SR 40, the cost of admission to Silver Springs is $2.00 per person. Children 5 and under are free. There is a $4 launch fee per kayak – if you bring your own, plus park admission of $2 per person. Transport services from Ray Wayside Park are additional.  

At the Camping and Equestrian Entrances the cost is $8.00 per vehicle with 2 to 8 occupants.  Admission is $5.00 for single occupant vehicles.

Rentals: Yes

Camping: Yes

Launch: The best place to launch your kayak at Silver Springs is on the eastern side of the springs, just downstream of the Main Pool

Salt Springs – Number 2 of Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

A paddle down the spring run is the best option to explore the mosaic of hardwood swamp, hardwood forest and scrub habitats and spot the animals that live there. Check here for a nice 3.5 hours loop tour at Salt Springs.

Location: The main roads through Salt Springs are State Road 19, as well as County Road 314 and County Road 316, both of which terminate at SR 19.

Hours: Hours vary by season

Fee: $6.50 per person day use fee and a $10.00 parking fee

Camping: alt Springs has the largest campground on the Ocala National Forest and the only one with full hookups for RVs

Rentals: on site availability

Launch: The Kayak Launch Trail provides access to the canoe and kayak launch area. Currently, the area at the end of this trail is the only approved launch site in Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State park open to the public. DO NOT launch your kayak from the area near the parking lot. The distance from the parking lot to the kayak launch is about 2 tenths of a mile.

De Leon Springs State Park

Spring Garden Run starts at the park and connects with the St. Johns River, a distance of about 10 miles.

Location: 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd., De Leon Springs FL 32130

Hours:  8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year

Fee: $6 per vehicle

Camping: De Leon Springs State Park does not have a designated campground. However, there’s no need to fret just yet if you cannot do without camping on your family vacation, because there are plenty of RV parks within a 3 to 8 mile radius around the De Leon Springs town area.

Kayak launch: Launch at Ponce DeLeon Springs State Park and paddle the four-mile trail (one-way) along Spring Garden Creek to Lake Woodruff and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge with its 18,000+ acres of lakes, creeks, and marshes or at the park. Check for a map here!

Kayak launch comes to De León Springs State Park in Volusia County, Florida – YouTube

Ichetucknee Springs State Park – Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

There are three trip experiences available from the Ichetucknee Springs State Park South Entrance. There is a shuttle service from the South Entrance to the north canoe launch. The cost is $8.00/person + $8.00/boat + tax for a total of $17.12 for one person/one boat.

Kayaking at the Ichetucknee Springs – Trip One – 3.5 mile Experience (2 hours)

“Beginning near the head spring, discover the splendor of nature paddling the Ichetucknee River. Park at the South Entrance where you will be transported by van or bus to the North Canoe/Kayak Launch to start your trip. Paddle with the gentle current of the Ichetucknee to the south take-out point, where you will will exit and ride the open-air tram back to the south parking lot. Open until daily limit of 100 boats has been met.” Check the tours below to explore one the best springs for kayaking in Florida.

Kayaking at the Ichetucknee Springs – Trip Two – 6.25 to 12 mile Experience (3-7 hours)

“Designed for the experienced kayak lover, enjoy an extended trip along the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. Paddle up to 12 miles, ending at William Guy Lemmon Park (U.S. Highway 129 bridge). Offered seasonally; Canoes and Kayaks only.  

Arrive by 12 pm for this paddle. Must exit the State Park boundary by 1 pm to complete the extended portion. Includes return transportation from William Guy Lemmon Park back to the South Entrance.”

Kayaking at the Ichetucknee Springs – Trip Two  -Up to 6.25 miles (1.5 to 5 hours)

“Stand-up Paddleboards, Kayaks, and Canoes available for this trip. Beginning at the South Entrance of the park, launch at Dampier’s Landing and paddle upstream. Paddle as far as you want, up to 2.75 miles, near the head spring. Then, turn around and enjoy the easy return paddle with the gentle current of the Ichetucknee. Current varies, 1-3 mph. Exit at Dampier’s Landing or continue another 3/4 mile to the South Take-out. Includes tram pickup from the South Take-out. Arrive by 2 pm for this paddle (No daily boat limit). Reservations are available.”

Location: South Entrance – Use this entrance for all tubing activities, as well as all watercraft rentals.

South Entrance Address:

12087 SW US HW 27

Fort White, FL 32038

North Entrance – Limited Parking at North Entrance for guests swimming, picnicking and hiking, including Blue Hole.

North Entrance Address:

8294 SW Elim Church Road

Fort White, FL 32038

Launch: at north and south entrance

Rentals: Yes inside the park.

Fees: Park Admission Fee (no river use) – $5.00 per vehicle (limit 8 people per vehicle). Single Car Occupant – $3.00 Motorcycle Fee (one or two persons) – $3.00 Canoeing Fee: $5.00 per person year round.

Camping: Not in the park but very close

Open: Ichetucknee Springs is open 365 days a year. The hours are from 8 a.m. until sunset

Wekiwa Springs – Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida – Number 1 

Just minutes away from the traffic and crowds of Orlando is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets, Wekiwa Springs State Park. The Wekiwa Springs empty into the 16 miles of meandering waters known as the Wekiva River. 

Begin your kayak trip inside the park or enter the park from any launch site along the Wekiva River or Rock Springs Run. If entering from outside the park, an entrance fee of $2 per person is required. Please note that due to the nature of the spring, it is necessary to portage the kayak a significant distance up and down slope on uneven ground. There are several points of interest and different length of routes between 1-10 miles. Please check here for a detailed planning guide.

Camping: Yes, 60 spacious campsites

Rentals: Kayaks can be rented inside Wekiwa Springs State Park or at other liveries along Rock Springs Run and the Wekiva River. Further information on overnight canoe or kayak rentals can be obtained by calling our canoe rental stand at 407-884-4311 or by visiting Nature Adventures. 

Location: 1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka FL 32712

Launch: Check here four launches and route planning.

Fee: Fees Admission $6 per vehicle (limit of eight people). $4 single-occupant vehicle.

Open: The park is open 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year

Madison Blue Spring State Park 

Enjoy the beautiful Withlacoochee River by canoe or kayak. Vessels are not allowed in the spring or spring run. Difficulty: Easy to moderate depending on river depth. If the river is low, watch for the shoals you’ll encounter a few times downstream. Keep in mind that there is no vehicle access to the river within the park.

Location: 8300 N.E. State Road 6 Lee FL 32059

Launch: The launch is located inside Madison Blue Spring State Park on HWY 6, 10 miles East of Madison.

Fee: There is a fee to enter Madison Blue Springs State Park of currently $5.

Rentals: The park does not offer kayak rentals but Madison Outpost Adventures nearby does.

Camping: No

Open: Hours 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year

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Three Sisters Springs – Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida to see Manatees

If you are looking for a place where you can see hundreds of manatees within a very short time, then the Three Sisters Springs is the ideal destination for your next kajak trip. Kayaks are not allowed inside during manatee season, from November 14 until April 1.

The Three Sisters Springs is surrounded by privately-owned property. There is no landfall and it is home to hundreds of manatees, making it one of the most important sanctuaries of Crystal River. Since the only access to the springs has been blocked by concrete posts to prevent boats from entering the springs, the Three Sisters Springs is only accessible by canoes, kayaks, swimming or land. In order to preserve and protect the manatees and their habitat, the springs and surrounding areas have been declared manatee sanctuaries.

In-water recreation at Three Sisters Springs is accessible by launching a kayak on Kings Bay (or Hunters Spring Park) and navigating to the spring-run for Three Sisters. Visitors must arrive by kayak to get to the spring run at Three Sisters Springs. The reason is that there is NO water access to Three Sisters Springs from the refuge and no land access from the water.

Hunters Springs Park is probably best as it also has a beach with a fresh water swim area.

Location: 123 NW US Highway 19, Crystal River, FL 34428

Fee: Depending in which park you launch your kayak.

Access: Hunter Springs Park, 104 NE 1st Ave, Crystal River  and  King’s Bay Park, 268 NW 3rd St, Crystal River

Rental: Yes, check Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy (also offers kayak tours)

Camping: There is not any camping on-site at Three Sisters Spring. There are camping options nearby. One popular option is the Chassahowitzka River Campground.

Open: In-water access to Three Sisters Springs is open from sunrise to sunset daily (unless the springs are closed which can occur during manatee season)

Salt Springs

Salt Springs Recreation Area is one the recreational jewels of the Ocala National Forest. The slow-moving current of Salt Springs Run allows paddling back upstream to the marina, rather than entering the often-rough Lake George. This is a relatively wide run with lots of marsh vegetation lining the banks. This, combined with its proximity to the wide-open St. Johns river can make this a challenging paddle on windy days!

There are plenty of outdoor activities besides kayaking like swimming in the springs, fishing, snorkeling, hiking and boating. In the early 1900s, many people came to the spring, believing it had medicinal healing powers. Today’s visitors will find Salt Springs gushes forth 52 million gallons of water daily at a constant 74° Fahrenheit. 

Location: The main roads through Salt Springs are State Road 19, as well as County Road 314 and County Road 316, both of which terminate at SR 19.

Hours: Hours vary by season

Fee: $6.50 per person day use fee and a $10.00 parking fee

Rentals:  only canoe rentals are available at the Salt Springs Marina on a first come, first served basis. Personal flotation devices and paddles are provided with all rentals.

Access: launch from Salt Springs Marina, located at the head of the Salt Springs Run. Alternatively, an unimproved boat launch is located at the end of the campground closest to Salt Springs Run. It is directly across the run from the Salt Springs Marina. Follow the signs.

Camping: The campground is the largest in the Ocala National Forest and the only one with full hookups for RVs.

Guided Tours: available at Adventure Outpost.

Saving Money when Visiting the Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

To save on entrance fees to the parks, check buying a Florida state’s parks annual pass. There is an individual annual entrance pass – $60, plus tax. and a family annual entrance pass – $120, plus tax. Annual entrance passes allow unlimited park entrance in lieu of the daily entrance fee. Unfortunately, you still need to pay extra for other special-use fees for camping or kayaking. But for everyone who plans to do a road trip or plans to visit several springs, the Florida state’s park annual pass will help save some extra money. 

Ginnie Springs – Best Springs for Kayaking in Florida

“Ginnie Springs is a privately owned park in Gilchrist County about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northwest of High Springs, Florida, USA. It is located on the south side of the Santa Fe River, to which it is connected. The water is clear and cold and there are accessible caverns with a sand and limestone bottom.” This park can be very crowded in summer.

Location: 7300 NE Ginnie Springs Rd, High Springs FL 32643


Open: Seasons hours – 7 days per week. 8 – 5 pm and 7 pm on weekends.

Rental: yes

Camping: Yes

Fees: $5-$20.

A Word from healthylifestyleflorida.com

Whether you’re heading to central Florida or whether you’re swinging by the coast, the sunshine state has a lot of beautiful spots to go kayaking, and other water lovers. The easiest way to find the best spring for kayaking in Florida is to check out Wekiwa Springs first. Furthermore, check commercial companies for their tours as they are local specialists.

Start planning your trip to the best springs in Florida today. Make sure to bring a healthy snack and plenty of water. You will love what you can be!

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Antje Diana Baumgarten

Antje Diana Baumgarten

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