Best Kayaking Trip Locations in St. Augustine Florida
Visit St Augustine and explore the four best kayaking locations near me…
Local or tourist alike, summer is almost upon us and you will be searching for some fun in the sun. Florida is an ideal vacation for any season and booking at least one kayak ecotour needs to be top of the nature activity list. St Augustine is located in St. Johns County, spanning 822 miles; from ocean beaches and inland estuaries, to freshwater rivers and creeks. Many who discover these natural locations through guided kayaking tours often say they feel they have experienced the real wild Florida, while still feeling safely close to civilization. Pick a provider that is safe, fun, educational and locally owned. Some ecotours will allow you to bring your own kayak and tag along at a reduced price. Check out www.earthkinship.us
Some things to consider before booking a trip or picking an ecotourism company. It's worth taking a few minutes to do a little research. I personally like to call and talk with a trip leader before I spend my money, but all the information should be easily found on their website. When choosing a local guide make sure they are locally educated with Florida waterways and coast guard regulations. Guides who maintain current Wilderness First Aid or better, as well as, an instructor certification with American Canoe Association are motivated to provide professional, ethical and safe trips. The provider should show up early with clean and well-maintained kayaks and safety gear that is intended for the environment you are about to enter. Last but not least, make sure the company is insured by a respected insurance company.
The best kayaking locations near St Augustine Florida: I grew up in St. Johns County and have been exploring these waters for 40+ years. I’ve chosen 4 of my favorite locations that are close to St. Augustine, yet in different cardinal directions from the city borders, to include the most diversity of nature experiences. If you choose to see them all, you will not be disappointed.
1. Helen Mellon Schmidt Park, South of St. Augustine Florida
Open: sunrise to sunset
9200 Summer Island Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32080, AKA RattleSnake Island
Description: .6 miles of unpaved sandy roads, porta-potty available. Protected water and sandy beach launch
This kayak launch location is into a saltwater estuary between the ICW and A1A, only 12 miles south from St Augustine Beach. Fort Matanzas is located on the north end of this island and the Atlantic ocean is just outside the inlet. The diversity of wildlife is endless from dolphin to shore birds, you'll never take a bad picture here. The park is named after Helen Mellon Schmidt (1914-2007), who was a Navy decoder in WW2. For pictures of the family, look up St Augustine Historical Society Research Library or click on the link.
Helen Mellon Schmidt Photo Album (30 images) - Album, Photograph
2. Guana, Six Mile Landing, North of St Augustine Florida
Open: sunrise to sunset
Google coordinates: (click link) 30° 6' 36.2628" N 81° 20' 44.2291" W
Description: Sand Parking along A1A, porta-potty available. Protected water and sandy and concrete launch area.
This kayak launch location is into a freshwater lagoon, 12 miles north of Vilano Beach. This is an excellent location for a flat-water paddle with no tidal influence. Just like the history of this area, the wildlife is rich with birds, fish, turtles and, if we look hard enough, maybe some alligators. The Guana Lagoon (7800 acres) is created by a dam located near the GTM visitor center. The dam was originally created in 1957, to capture the freshwater to provide habitat for waterfowl. It is currently regulated and every few years the water is released to maintain a healthy environment. After you finish with your paddle, check out the GTM Research Reserve Visitor Center on your way back to St Augustine. Their center includes nature and historical exhibits, aquariums and working laboratories. You also may decide to return to Guana Preserve another day, there is so much to see along the hiking, horseback riding and off-road biking trails.
3. Deep Creek Conservation area, Southwest of St. Augustine Florida
Google coordinates: (click link) 29.723823, -81.484087 https://www.google.com/maps/place/29%C2%B043'25.8%22N+81%C2%B029'02.7%22Wfirstname.lastname@example.org,-81.4846342,135m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x35f3e1022feb2769!7e2!8m2!3d29.7238234!4d-81.4840867
Description: Parking is under and alongside the bridge, locate a small drive on the southside of SR 207 heading east across the bridge. Beware there are no restrooms. Launch is at the end of a concrete road that ends in sand and mud.
This kayak launch location is into a freshwater creek, 16 miles southwest of St Augustine, along SR 207. If you are like me and in search of kayak trips that will get you away from the distractions of the city and into protected wilderness areas, this is it. There are 5,642 acres of floodplain swamps with 5.5 miles of waterway from the SR 207 launch site opening into the St Johns River. Beautiful wilderness area to explore with almost no signs of the modern world. We often see turtles, alligators, water birds and sightings of manatee and river otters. If you're looking for a flatwater ecotour that is protected from high winds and very little tidal flow this is your trip.
4. Durbin Creek Kayak launch, Northwest of St Augustine Florida
Google coordinates: (click link) 30° 6' 0.6192" N 81° 31' 28.2943" W
Description: Parking is on the far west side of the local Publix grocery store parking lot. You will need to portage your kayak along a boardwalk to the floating launch. Bring a kayak trolly. There are plenty of restaurants and bathroom options nearby.
This kayak launch is into a freshwater creek, 20 miles Northwest of St Augustine Florida. This creek borders the Julington-Durbin Preserve. This preserve is 2,031-acres of uplands off-road trail system for hikers, bikers and horseback riding. Kayaking tours along Durbin Creek are a one-of-a-kind experience with ancient cypress trees marking the path, countless birds and wildlife to view. This is a protected waterway with low wind and little tidal influence. Even with a 1.5 foot tide difference, avoid a low-tide trip if you want to be clear of sunken logs.