Great Spots to Go Kayaking in Tampa for Labor Day

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Kayak

With so many water access points across the Tampa area, there are tons of places to go kayaking near you, even on Labor Day Weekend. Whether you choose to book a guided tour or rent from a local kayak rental company it’s a great way to enjoy the long weekend.

Kayaking in Tampa Bay, Clearwater and St. Pete offers a unique way to get out on the water and spend some quality time with loved ones. We’ve rounded up our top picks for where to go kayaking in Tampa Bay during Labor Day Weekend below.

Tampa Bay Labor Day Kayaking

Weeki Wachee River

The crystal-clear water of the spring-fed Weeki Wachee River will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to another world. While you can rent a kayak or paddle board at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park for a 1.5 hour long kayaking adventure, you can also head a little further downstream to the Kayak Shack in Spring Hill which is right across the river from Rogers Park.

You can rent a single kayak or paddle board for $35 or a tandem kayak for $45. They only launch from 8 am-12 pm and you must be back by 5 pm. Keep in mind that exiting your kayak or paddle board to swim is discouraged because trampling on the bottom of the river can destroy the natural vegetation that is critical to the ecosystem. Expect this park to be extremely busy during Labor Day Weekend.

Shell Key Preserve on Labor Day

Manatees, dolphins, starfish and birds, oh my! Multiple kayak tour companies, including Coastal Kayak Charters, offer guided kayaking tours exploring the serene Shell Key Preserve near Tampa Bay and St. Pete. Depending on the tide, you may be able to paddle through mangrove tunnels. If you’re lucky, you may have a dolphin swim near your kayak, a once in a lifetime experience (and so romantic!). The cost for this tour is $49/person.

Tampa Bay & St Pete Kayaking

Want to kayak with the scenic Tampa skyline as your backdrop? Urban Kai is best known for stand up paddle (SUP) board rentals, but kayaking and starboard starship rentals are also available. What an awesome Labor Day Weekend idea!

What makes Urban Kai kayaking unique is they offer kayak rentals at their Tampa and St. Pete locations as well as the option to bring kayak equipment to a designated location for you for a delivery fee. Hop into a tandem kayak with your love for $45 for a two hour rental, which is plenty of kayak time to explore.

Other options for kayaking the downtown waterways include Tampa Bay SUP ($45 for two hours; tandem kayak) and WhatSUP Paddle Sports ($55 for two hours; tandem kayak).

Little Manatee River Kayak Tour

Located 30 minutes from downtown Tampa, Canoe Outpost – Little Manatee River offers multiple kayaking adventures at various levels of difficulty. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, you’ll enjoy paddling out and back or embarking on a longer journey with a return trip by shuttle bus.

Kayaking in Tampa on the Little Manatee River
Image credit: Canoe Outpost – Little Manatee River

Honeymoon Island/Caladesi Island

Boasting natural beaches, stunning sunsets, top-notch shelling and more, Honeymoon island State Park is an unspoiled paradise just minutes from hip downtown Dunedin. Cross the Dunedin Causeway, pay the $8 park entry fee and access is yours.

While lazing on the beach and exploring the hiking trails are popular park activities, kayak rentals are also available at the park concession or you can bring your own kayak. Alternatively, you can rent a tandem kayak outside the park from Sail Honeymoon, setting your sights on scenic Caladesi Island for a secluded beach day. Splurge on the full day kayak rental so you can explore at your leisure and make the most of Labor Day Weekend.

Lido Key

Lido Key may be a bit of a trek from Tampa, but the drive is worth the reward of paddling through scenic mangrove tunnels. Pack a plastic bag for your phone because you’ll definitely want to snap some photos while exploring.

You’ll be laughing as you inevitably bump into branches or accidentally snag your paddle on a stray branch, but you’ll also gain some serious kayaking chops navigating the sometimes tight and twisty tunnels. Rentals are available from several companies, including Sea Life Kayak Adventures.

While guided tours are available, the tunnels are surprisingly simple to navigate and the current will help you along. Beginners up for a bit of adventure can totally tackle this experience. Consider it the ultimate Labor Day Weekend adventure. Your kayak rental company should also offer a map to help you get oriented.

Lido Key mangrove tunnel kayaking
Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

Longboat Key

South of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key is a ritzy haven with stunning shorelines and fantastic restaurants. Exploring on the water offers a unique vantage point of both Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, while also inviting you to stop off at a sandbar or peruse mangroves.

Happy Paddler Kayak has several rental locations, but many locals are partial to Longboat Pass. After boarding your vessel, you can paddle out and around to the sandbar in front of Jewfish Key near Longboat Pass. If you’re feeling adventurous, make your way under the Longboat Pass bridge and out into the gulf for views of AMI and Longboat Key from the clear water. Tandem rentals are $75 for a half day (4 hours).

Fort De Soto on Labor Day Weekend

Offering daily tours in Fort De Soto and Shell Key south of St. Pete, See Through Adventures is a glass-bottom kayak experience where you’re almost guaranteed to spot friendly Florida wildlife. Choose from a 1.5 or 2.5-hour toor option and keep your eyes peeled for manatees and dolphins which are commonly seen in the shallow, calm waters. Reservations are required and booking fast for Labor Day.

Pricing differs per tour, with a 1.5 hour tour at $69 per person and a 2.5 hour tour at $99 per person. The last rental is at 4 p.m.

Kayaking in Tampa with See Through Adventures
Image credit: See Through Adventures

Robinson Preserve

Headed to Anna Maria Island for Labor Day Weekend? Combine soaking in the sun with a morning kayak trip through the mangroves and calm waters of Robinson Preserve. The iconic Surfer Bus, which you can find parked along Manatee Ave before reaching the island, offers kayak rentals just a short paddle away from the entrance to the preserve.

You’ll paddle through several short mangrove tunnels and open water and can paddle all the way to the preserve’s lookout tour which offers scenic views of Anna Maria Island and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Just be warned, it will be super busy for Labor Day Weekend.

Note: Check the Facebook page for the latest details. Robinson Preserve is undergoing restorations, and Surfer Bus is also working on a new bus.

Feature Image Credit: Step Outside

Prices subject to change. Check with each company before you head out on your kayaking adventure. Enjoy!

 

 

 


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