9 Great Places for Paddle Boarding in Florida

    Florida has a plethora of beautiful waterways where you can immerse yourself in the stand up paddle boarding craze.

    Standing tall atop a brilliant purple paddleboard, I glide through the Intracoastal Waterway in Jupiter. This is my first time paddleboarding in Florida, and already I feel as though I’m walking on water. The board affords me a perfect view of the wildlife above and below my board. There’s a spotted stingray, a bald eagle, and, yes, four manatees!

    The peaceful yet exhilarating sport of stand up paddle boarding in Florida is the latest craze to hit waterways across the state. It’s easy to master, offers an amazing full-body workout (think: yoga on water) and is extremely versatile. You can paddle leisurely through the mangroves, embark on an eco-tour with friends or carve a turn in the surf.

    “Paddleboarding is to Florida like skiing is to Colorado,” says Tom Losee, co-founder of YOLO (You Only Live Once) Board in Santa Rosa Beach.

    Here are a handful of premier destinations for paddle boarding in Florida:

    1. Coastal Dune Lakes

    Want to paddle the Gulf and see sharks and turtles, or explore lakes with alligators and bass? Accomplish both in one trip at coastal dune lakes in South Walton. After gliding through lakes, carry your board across 50 feet of sand, and voilà!, you’re in saltwater. 

    2. Destin Harbor

    Tranquil waters make Destin Harbor and nearby canals perfect for learning the sport. It’s also alive with wildlife, including stingrays, flounder and pelicans.

    3. St. Augustine

    The coolest way to explore this historic city is via paddleboard. Cruise by the Castillo de San Marcos and listen for the firing of cannons and muskets. For an epic water voyage, the Full Moon Pub Crawl visits local hot spots.

    4. New Smyrna

    For a heart-stopping adventure, hang ten paddleboard-style at the jetties. Compared to surfboards, paddleboards offer a superior view of incoming sets.

    5. Naples Beach

    Calm waters attract dolphins every day, making Naples an idyllic place for beginners to learn as well as capture an exceptional memory.

    6. Blowing Rocks Preserve

    Once you’re up at this Jupiter Island preserve, you’ll spot sea turtles, sharks and an amazing reef. Too windy for you? Cross the street to the Intracoastal Waterway.

    7. Islamorada

    Push off at mile marker 77.5 and cruise into Indian Key Historic State Park to survey an old wrecking colony, then coast through mangroves and catch a glimpse of baby sharks and crocodiles.

    8. Bahia Honda State Park

    Circumnavigate the park; at times, you’ll find yourself blissfully alone. As the sun drops, perhaps you’ll witness the Green Flash.

    9. Stock Island

    Find balance in picturesque Key West like never before. Paddle through a beautiful mangrove forest, where such creatures as crabs, sea stars and plenty of colorful tropical fish abound.