Top 6 Florida Spring Paddling Trips – Natural Beauty & Recreation

Florida spring paddling spots

Ever tried paddling through a crystal-clear spring in Florida? No? Well, buckle up, because Florida’s got about 700 of them, mostly in the central and northern regions.

The water stays at a refreshing 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so it is safe to say it is perfect for kayaking. And yes, it’s as magical as it sounds.

But don’t take my word for it – let’s run through the top 6 paddling trips that I enjoyed the most and the ones I believe you will as well.

Best Paddling Places in Florida

1. Ginnie Springs

Best spring paddling trips Florida

We’ve got ourselves a real gem here—a privately owned attraction boasting not one, not two, but a whopping seven springs along the Santa Fe River! You can actually camp out here if you’re feeling adventurous, or if you’re just looking for a quick fix of fun, you can opt for a day pass.

When my crew and I swung by in April, it cost us $18 per person to gain entry. We decided to go all out and rented some snorkels for a mere $8 each. They’ve got more than just snorkels, though—inner tubes, paddle boards, and the reason why we were there – kayaks.

We managed to explore a solid five out of the magnificent seven springs during our four-hour escapade and it’s safe to say that we weren’t disappointed.  We caught sight of tons of fish, spotted a turtle, and even had the pleasure of witnessing some brave divers plunging in and out of those underwater caves. Really cool kayaking adventure, and the one I’d recommend any enthusiast.

Why It Is Worth It

  • Exceptionally clear water, perfect for underwater photography.
  • Great for snorkeling, scuba diving, and tubing.
  • Privately owned, so expect a fee and no pets allowed.
  • Popular spot for camping along the Santa Fe River.

2. Rainbow Springs State Park

Top Florida paddling destinations

This place has everything you could ask for: stunningly colorful water, lush surroundings that’ll make you feel like you’re in paradise, and, best of all, you can even go paddling with your pets. There is a slight hitch, though. Rainbow Springs State Park is super popular, especially on weekends and holidays.

So, when the place gets crazy crowded and reaches its capacity at the headsprings entrance, they have to shut the doors. You can’t just hang around in your car hoping to get in or clog up the nearby roads. Oh, and because of the massive influx of visitors, they’ve put some restrictions on the sale of Annual Passes.

You can only snag one on weekdays and non-holidays. Just a heads up in case you were planning to get one on a busy day. As far as the hours go, the entrance is open from 8 A.M. until sunset every single day of the year.

Why It Is Worth It

  • Allows pets on a six-foot leash.
  • Offers activities like tubing, kayaking, and hiking.
  • Historically significant with remnants of old phosphate pits.
  • Beautiful gardens and waterfalls to explore.

3. Madison Blue Spring

Florida spring kayaking trips

Madison Blue Spring is where you can have a serious paddling adventure. It’s not just any park—it’s a real beauty. Quiet, peaceful, and enjoyable. They’ve got some pretty sweet hiking trails, too, if you want to go for a walk and see some sights.

Nice and flat, wide enough for a leisurely stroll or a kid-friendly adventure. Perfect if you’re into low-impact walking or have little ones in tow. But the star of the show is the spring itself. This little gem is usually crystal clear, making it an ideal spot for a refreshing swim. Brace yourself, though, because the water temperature sits comfortably at 68 degrees Fahrenheit all year round.

Oh, and did I mention they’ve got a cute little beach for the little tykes to splash around? And if fishing is your thing, you’re in luck because there’s some prime fishing spots near the beach too.

Why It Is Worth It

  • One of the largest springs in Florida.
  • Ideal for swimming, cave diving, and snorkeling.
  • Located near the Florida-Georgia border.
  • Clear blue water with abundant aquatic life.

4. Homosassa Springs

Homosassa River stretches for a good 8 miles until it finally meets the Gulf of Mexico and this spot is like manatee heaven. If you’re into watching those adorable sea cows, you’ll have a great time here, and paddleboarding is nothing short of spectacular.

The water around the spring stays a cozy 72 degrees all year round, and the manatees love it so much that they stick around the area no matter the season. Also, the water here is so mineral-rich that it’s like a mix of freshwater and saltwater.

You’ll find all sorts of fish swimming around, from your typical freshwater ones to those accustomed to the salty life. It’s quite diverse. The spring itself is actually part of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. It’s a wildlife refuge where critters can find a safe haven, so access to the spring from the river is restricted. However, it’s all for the good of protecting wildlife.

Why It Is Worth It

  • Home to an underwater observatory for fish and manatee viewing.
  • Kayaking opportunities with abundant wildlife sightings.
  • Chance to see the endangered Florida panther.
  • Scenic beauty with historical significance.

5. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Spring paddle trips Florida

Wekiwa Springs State Park is an amazing gem located just a stone’s throw away from downtown Orlando. Emerald springs gracefully flow into the Wekiwa River, surrounded by lush tropical hammocks. It’s like a wildlife paradise.

You can even beat the summer heat by taking a refreshing dip here. There are also miles and miles of trails just waiting to be explored. You can choose to wander on foot, hop on a bike, or even take a horseback ride.

But what I really loved were the options for water enthusiasts. Canoes and kayaks are available right here on-site, which is awesome if you like to travel light and skip carrying your own. I had an awesome time with my friends here and will definitely be coming again.

Why It Is Worth It

  • Offers a variety of activities: kayaking, horseback riding, biking.
  • Close to Orlando, making it easily accessible.
  • Beautiful picnic areas and hiking trails.
  • Wildlife-rich environment with lush landscapes.

6. De Leon Springs

Scenic paddling routes Florida

De Leon Springs is just the perfect blend of history and recreation. Where else can you paddle your way through some pristine waters and then treat yourself to flipping pancakes at a historic site? Nice combination. Now, let’s talk about the kayaks they offer.

They’re shiny and new and so clean you could practically eat off them.  But here’s the catch: you’re limited to a tiny area to explore, and they’re pretty strict about stopping anywhere else. It was a bit of a buzzkill, but I did enjoy the trip overall.

Why It Is Worth It

  • Historical pancake house on-site – cook your own breakfast.
  • Rich in history and cultural significance.
  • Perfect mix of cultural and recreational activities.
  • Beautiful spring waters for kayaking and swimming.

Tips for Paddling in Florida Springs

Now that you’re all geared up to explore Florida’s springs, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and water activities.
  • Respect wildlife – it’s their home you’re visiting.
  • Stay hydrated – paddling can be a workout.
  • Use life vests for safety – always a good call.


Florida’s springs offer some of the most enchanting kayaking experiences you’ll ever have if you’re into water sports.  With crystal-clear waters, abundant wildlife, and unique landscapes, it’s time to grab your paddle and see what all the fuss is about.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in it for the manatees, the history, or just the pure joy of paddling through pristine waters, Florida’s got a spring for you.

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