Paddleboarding In Islamorada In The Florida Keys

The winds have finally died down a little since my last post about paddleboarding with Sparky. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on that paddleboard from my old neighbor. Until then, we can use the boards at work and there is a rental near by that may give me a special local/pseudo employee discount.

There are a few really good places to launch in Islamorada, both on the bayside and the oceanside. Here is a short list of some of those launch sites and some routes you can take.

Snake Creek

You can park on the northeast side of the Snake Creek right under the bridge. The shoreline here is pretty rocky, but it’s a relatively easy entry, with immediate access to both the ocean and the bay.

Going back towards the bay, there a is a small tunnel in the mangroves directly across from the pirate house. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see it. This tunnel leads to a small protected area on Windley Key with some smaller tunnels. There is a spot or two where it gets pretty shallow and can sometimes be tough to get through at low tide.

Once you get out in the bay you can follow the mangroves around to the end of Snake Creek and paddle though the channel back to the bridge. I’ve occasionally spotted small sharks, rays, parrot fish, and a large trunk fish when paddling through the back end of Snake Creek.

Windley Harbor

A few miles south there is some room to park on the southwest side of the bridge crossing Whale Harbor and Windley Harbor Channel. It’s a rocky shoreline, similar to Snake Creek, and this site will also give you easy access to both the ocean and bayside.

If you go under the bridge towards the bay, you will see a small cut in the mangroves, just past the FWC dock. This leads to another protected cove on Wilson Key. It’s a larger area than the one on Windley, with deeper water, but in my experience I’ve seen more life along Snake Creek.

Blackwood Drive & Library Beach

There is public access to the water at the end of Blackwood Drive, although there isn’t really any place to park long term. If you go just a little south you can launch from Library Beach, right behind the Monroe County Public Library.

This puts you in the middle of Library Cut, which is a great place to paddle though. The cut is a no wake zone with really clear water, and full of life. I see small nurse sharks swimming through here pretty frequently.

Library Cut opens into Little Basin, where you’ll go past Morada Bay, Islamorada Fish Company, and The Islander. On the west side of Little Basin is Doobie Creek and another longer tunnel, which I’m still searching for.

Once you get through either of these tunnels you’ll be in Yellow Shark Channel. This area is lined with mangroves on one side with tons of small coves, islands, and cuts to explore. You can also paddle to the northwest across the channel to Bird Island, which I wrote about recently.

Paddle Boarding In Islamorada
Paddleboarding on the ocean near Tea Table Key

Tea Table Key & Indian Fill Key

There are spots to launch on both the oceanside and bayside along the highway between Tea Table Key and Indian Fill Key. This isn’t the most interesting area to explore, but it will give you access to the southern end of Yellow Shark Channel.

Anne’s Beach

Anne’s Beach is a public beach where you can launch on the oceanside. This spot isn’t as interesting as some of the sites further north, but if you paddle over to the bayside you can explore Veterans Key and the coffins.

At some of these sites, especially Windley Harbor and Anne’s Beach you want to time your trip with the tides. If you’re going bayside and you’re not the strongest paddler you want to leave with an incoming tide, so the tide changes while you’re out. Otherwise it can be tough to paddle back through the bridges with an incoming tide.

If there are any sites you know of that I left out or you have a question about any of the sites in this list please comment below.

6 Responses to Paddleboarding In Islamorada In The Florida Keys

  1. Pirates, tunnels, snake creek, sharks, keys and coffins! This is enough to make me shiver in my boots!

    Don’t you have alligators over there? As I was floating down towards the bay in your video, it was easy to imagine an alligator or two.

    Mind you, where I used to live we had a lot of mangroves but no crocs… thank heavens!

    Your site is fascinating but for now I’ll stick to my chair. Thanks

    • It’s a really cool house that’s impossible to miss Marilyn. Kind of looks like a Disney ride. No gators here. We’re too far from the mainland. You really need to go back further into the Everglades to see them.

      We do have crocs, though, but their mainly in a few areas with highly concentrated populations. I used to see a smaller one on one of my tours, but he’s been gone for more than a month now. The gators are actually much worse. American crocs aren’t very aggressive, like the Australian ones.


  2. Hello Chris,
    I am really enjoying your site and I am getting excited about paddle boarding.
    Is it difficult to keep your balance on the board?
    If you fall, how hard is it to get back on the board?
    I tried to play the video but it would not play for me, not sure if it was my connection or not. I really wanted to see it, do you have it on YouTube?
    Let me know,
    The Fat Guy

    • Fat Guy,

      It’s not to difficult to balance yourself. I was horrible at surfing the one time I tried it, and I was never able to skateboard, but I’m yet to fall off a paddleboard. If you fall if, you just kind of crawl back on, and get one knee up at a time. It’s pretty easy. If you’re paddling with another person, there ware ways to get someone on a board, if they’re having trouble. I think it was your connection. I just tried and it even played on my phone. Currently I’m only doing my video on facebook.


  3. Hello Chris!

    I very much enjoyed your post on Paddleboarding in Islamorada! Watching the video and listening to the music really makes me want to try it.

    I live in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, so not too far from the Keys. I have only been there once. Hoping to make it back soon. Maybe check out Snake Creek, Anne’s Beach, etc.

    I spent some extra time looking over your website and the photo gallery – Very Nice! Glad you and Sparky have found your “niche”.


    • Thanks Tony!

      It really is a lot of fun. Once you try it, you barely want to touch a kayak again. There are some great places to explore down here.

      It’s been years since I’ve been to the Tampa area, but I’m sure there’s some nice places for you to paddle closer to home too.

      Chris…& Sparky

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