Paddleboarding is a sport that is not necessarily widespread across the country. Only certain locations that have specific geographical features allow for the sport to take place. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the most impressive locations that Florida has to offer for paddle boarding and examine the pros and cons of each.
Florida is home to some of the most beautiful and impressive paddling adventures in the world. Because of its abundance of natural springs like the Ichetucknee Springs, spring-fed rivers like the Weeki Wachee River, and more lakes than one could know what to do with – the state is prime for paddling.
What Specifics Does a Stellar Paddling Location Require?
You might think that paddle boarding only requires a body of water. There are actually a few more specifics that go into identifying prime paddleboarding spots.
For one, for the type of paddle boarding that will most likely take place in Florida, the location should be generally calm water.
If you’re not familiar, paddling is a sport that takes place on a specialized paddleboard or surfboard. Traditionally, paddling referred to kneeling or prone-position paddle surfing. Now, however, paddling most commonly refers to standing paddle surfing, or SUP.
The roots of paddle surfing are quite different than the sport that comes to the minds of most today. Traditionally, the sport was very similar to surfing. Participants would attempt to “ride waves” on their paddle boarding and even cross open-ocean channels between islands. This was actually the first variant seen of stand-up paddle surfing.
This form of paddling was popularized in the 1900’s but became more widely accepted after Maui-based surfer Dave Kalama shaped the face of the sport. Kalama is a California native who dropped everything and moved to Maui, HI to pursue a professional surfing career.
Paddleboarding, in general, can require different types of aquatic environments based on the type of paddle boarding. For example, variants of paddling can take place on open waves, in rivers and canals, or in placid lakes.
Stand Up Paddling as We Know it Today Originated in the Early 2000’s
The sport reached California in the year 2000. From there, surfing pioneers like Archie Kalepa brought the sport to the mainstream by diversifying. Paddling is now a sport with a huge array of variants. Participants often fish from their paddleboard, perform yoga on their board, or use the sport as a sight-seeing opportunity.
Paddling has changed from an extreme, professional sport, to a more accessible activity for the average sportsman.
This is Where Florida Comes Into Play
Because of the abundance of bodies of water in Florida, the state offers a prime location for paddling. You probably know that Florida is a coastal state, but you might not realize the diversity of marine environments in the state.
Florida offers rivers, lakes, bays, and of course – the ocean. This variety of environments allows for paddling participants of all skill levels to take advantage of the state’s natural beauty.
In addition to the wide variety of available paddling opportunities in the state of Florida, the state is home to some of the most favorable weather in the U.S. This is why the state is known as “The Sunshine State.”
The weather in Florida ranged between tropical and subtropical but remains very warm year-round. Around the coastline, the gulf stream keeps temperatures mild year-round.
Some of the Best Paddle Boarding Locations in Florida – Something for Every Skill Level
For beginners, or paddling enthusiasts looking for more serene waters, the Coastal Dune Lakes in South Walton County, FL, is a great choice. These lakes are unique from what you might consider a typical lake.
This system of lakes is fed by underground springs as well as channels fed by the Gulf of Mexico. Channels in the lakes allow freshwater and saltwater marine animal life to pass between the gulf and the lake. The lakes are very still but have a beautiful assortment of wildlife and very attractive surroundings. The beautiful Florida coast creates a peaceful environment for calm paddling.
Some may be looking to paddle in the open ocean, in which case Miramar Beach is what you are looking for. The area does provide open-ocean paddling opportunities that don’t require much more advanced skill than some of Florida’s placid lakes would. For the paddler looking to make a “baby-step” into open-ocean paddling adventures, check out Miramar Beach in South Walton County.
Florida is Not Short On Water, Natural Beauty, and Paddling Adventures
If you’re an experienced paddler or someone just beginning the sport, Florida has plenty of opportunities to offer. You will find endless paddling adventures from open ocean to serene and gorgeous natural lakes.
Stand up paddling is a fulfilling sport that has a variant to suit all tastes. We hope this guide helped clear up some of the misconceptions of modern paddle boarding and also showed what natural locations the state of Florida has to offer for the sport.