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.
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.
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.
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 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.