Kayaking In Islamorada – Exploring A Few New Spots

This last week I did some paddling at a few new spots that I haven’t really explored much in the past.

First Tour Of The Season

Sparky kayak tour

I finally did my first kayak tour of the season at work. Since we used to do combo kayak and snorkel trip on the boat it was a little bit of a longer tour than what I’ve done in the past. It was also my first time doing a kayak tour where we didn’t have to launch them off the deck of a boat.

We started the tour with 2 couples. One couple was in a tandem kayak and the other each had a single seat kayak.

We hadn’t gotten that far from the dock and the guy in the single kayak was really having trouble keeping up with the group. They went back to switch to a tandem kayak, but instead bailed on the tour entirely and came out on a jetski tour later that afternoon instead.

Our Route

I planned out a few different routes on my laptop so I have options for different conditions and people with different skill levels. My original plan was to take them around Tea Table Key, but since we lost some time we headed towards Tea Table and then followed the channel over to the bayside.

Once we got into the bay we stayed close to shore and followed the mangroves. Then we did a jump across to Bird Island or Horseshoe Island, both not official names. This is a really tall mangrove island with a small U shaped cut through it.

We went part of the way through the cut and then through a small opening in the back of the island. There wasn’t a lot of life inside the island on that day, but there were tons of cormorants on the backside of the island. After the short stretch along the back of the island we crossed back over to the main shoreline a little further down from where we jumped off.

Tarpon and “Tarpon”

nurse shark
Nurse shark, not to be confused with “tarpon”

As we were heading back we saw a pretty big tarpon swim by just over the ledge in the deeper water. That’s when I was informed that certain people on the tour have seen Jaws a few too many times. She told me if see a shark to not let her know…and that I should just tell her everything is a tarpon.

It was a little bit of a challenge paddling back under the bridge against the incoming tide. I was really glad the other group didn’t come on the tour, because he never would have made it. Even I was fighting. Once we got back in the channel I saw a nice sized “tarpon” nurse shark sitting on the bottom just outside of one of the marinas.

The Home Stretch

We stayed in close to shore to keep our route as short as possible since the wind was also starting to pick up a little. Shortly after getting back into the flats we saw a small eagle ray that circled around us for a few minutes. The current was still pretty strong most of the way back in. It didn’t really die down until we were almost at the docks back by the hotel.

It was a great first kayak tour, but even I was a little sore the next day. I’ve been doing a lot of rowing and paddling since we’ve been down here, but this was by far the longest, and my first time fighting a strong current in a while.

Kayak Tours With Dogs

A few days later when I recovered, I took Sparky on a kayak tour near the boat. We paddled through Library Cut into Little Basin. I wanted to find a hidden tunnel at the other end of Little Basin that someone told me about a while back.

Someone was starting to get a little too excited, and we had to paddle against the wind on the way back. So we only made it about half way through the basin before turning to go home.

On 9-29-2015 we paddled through Little Basin again, and we found the tunnel…and the camera worked!

6 Responses to Kayaking In Islamorada – Exploring A Few New Spots

  1. This was an incredible read! Going kayaking like that has always been a dream of mine, but i have never managed to go! And to be a little honest, I have only ever been kayaking in Oregon! So other than this, what are some great places that you would suggest for a beginner kayaker?



    • Damian,

      Can you believe I’ve actually never kayaked outside of Florida? Even through I grew up in NJ and have been up and down the east coast, and live on my boat, I didn’t even have a kayak on board until I moved to Miami a few years back.

      South Florida in general is a great place for beginners, since the water is usually pretty calm. One of my favorite places that I’ve been so far is Marathon.

      Vaca Key, which is a huge mangrove island just south of Marathon is a giant maze of tunnels the open into small hidden lakes. Most of the tunnels are so narrow that you have to put down your paddle and pull yourself through.


  2. Sounds like an adventure. It’s awesome you cater to peoples needs depending on skill levels like that. The cormorants sound like they were really amazing. I love seeing them at my moms house on the Oregon coast. I have never seen any type of shark in real life. I would love to see one. That nurse shark looks really cool. You are lucky to see so many creatures on a regular basis! It’s great you include Sparky. Thanks for sharing!

    • You have no choice bu to cater to people’s skill level, unless you want to come back with a few of them missing. We always try to put together groups with similar skill levels, but the weakest paddle always determines the pace.

      I didn’t realize cormorants were so wide spread throughout North America. We had someone from Connecticut down a few weeks ago who said she sees a lot of them up there. I don’t really remember seeing that many of them, when I was still up in NJ.

      Last week I actually saw a pretty big hammerhead, in close to shore, in shallow water. That was the first time I’ve ever seen one in the wild. They’re not too common down here.

  3. Chris

    Reading your post took me out of my mundane existence and into a world of adventure and discovery. I am always inspired by anyone who is following their bliss and living life on their own terms. Even though you still have a job, you are still closer to living your dream life than most people are. Enjoy it.

    • Thanks Selvie! Glad i could help you escape. I may not have location independence yet, but this is much better than my old cubicle. Today I got to do 2 dives in the morning, drive around on a jetski, and then head out to another reef.

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