Sometimes it’s not a dip in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean that a person needs in order to unwind, but a breezy glide along a spring stream on a scenic water tour. And there’s no better way to feel that than kayaking: just you, your kayak and the tranquil ambiance of our nature.
Florida is renowned for its beaches and coastal beauty, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the largest numbers of natural springs in the US? It’s one of many sides of Florida which isn’t as mainstream as its seaside, but does give it the run for its money with its vibes and beauty nonetheless.
Most kayakers enjoy floating along springs. You can kayak almost every single one of the natural springs of Florida but which ones are superior?
Leave it to us to give you the picks of the best springs to kayak in Florida.
If you’re a seasoned kayaker then it comes as no surprise that Rainbow Springs made the list.
Located 3 miles from Dunnellon, FL and surrounded by sloping hills and Florida-characteristic tropical-like beauty, Rainbow Springs boasts one of the biggest natural pools in the state with sparkling blue marshy water and beautiful tree-laden shores.
Triumphing with the equally impressive worlds both under- and above-water, Rainbow Springs has become a number 1 destination for kayaking, snorkeling, canoeing, and scuba diving.
All the necessary gear and equipment can be found onsite.
Standard admission fee is $2 per person, free of charge for kids under 2.
Kayak rental is between $35 – $60.
Located 84 miles from Jacksonville, FL is Ginnie Springs – one of the prime destinations for kayaking, canoeing and scuba diving in all of Florida. It’s a place bustling with fun and laughter as well as the enthusiasm of scuba divers wanting to explore the world underwater.
There you’ll find tropical-like scenery, a small lake-sized pool of crystalline and sparkling water with a temperature of 72°F.
The biggest attraction of this place is the underwater cave, mightily stretching over the spring bottom.
All the equipment for water activities can be rented onsite.
The general off-season admission rate is $15. High season rate is $20.
Rates for kayaks and canoes start at $15.
Located only a 10 minute drive from Fort White, FL, Ichetucknee Springs proudly holds the title of a hot shot kayaking destination.
Ichetucknee Springs is actually a several-spring-fed river with a mild flow, making it a natural lazy river of sorts. Due to its unique layout (compared to other picks on the list), it’s an ideal destination not only for kayaking but also for tubing, canoeing and just paddling.
Kayak rental fees start at $30.
Entrance is $6 per vehicle.
Alexander Springs is another slice of heaven in Florida that comes with the most gorgeous natural pool of all shades of blue and green. Whenever the spring isn’t packed you can actually see the distinctive difference in colors that make for breathtaking scenery.
It’s located a two hour drive from Jacksonville.
Alexander Springs is the only place in Ocala National Forest that allows scuba diving. Naturally, kayaking is also greenlit along with other water activities.
The necessary equipment can be rented onsite just know that prices change frequently so always call ahead and double check before you start planning.
Also be careful of the Alexander Spring gators. Follow the instructions and hang out only in designated areas.
While we’re still in Ocala National Forest it’s only fair to take a detour from Alexander Springs to Juniper Springs, which is one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire park.
Compared to previous options on the list, Juniper Springs mixes its natural beauty with a little bit of a modern touch. The side of the spring is lined with concrete and iron railings for easier access but the further into the water you get, the more rugged the springs’ shorelines become. Naturally, snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing are the most popular activities. Note that all of these activities are recommended for experienced adventurers. Especially kayaking and canoeing. If you’re a newbie, maybe try opting for alternatives.
Standard kayak rental is $47.
Juniper Springs Campground is also one of the best campgrounds in Florida, so if you want to form a deeper connection with nature, make sure you visit the campground as well.
Three Sister Springs
Three Sisters Springs – located in Crystal River – is another dwelling for the manatees. What’s cool about this spring is that if you visit between November 14 and March 31 you’ll get a chance to swim, kayak, canoe and boat with manatees which makes for an absolutely one of a kind experience.
The scenery at Three Sister Springs is taken straight out of a storybook. Naturally.
The environment of the place very much resembles that of its companions. One difference being that it is frequented and cherished by manatees.
Kayak rental prices range between $35 – $65.
Note: at time of writing, Three Sisters Springs is temporarily closed for reconstruction, manatee habitat restoration and other maintenance issues, but once it’s accessible to the public again, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.
Located only 21 miles from Tallahassee, the lush and rich tropical landscapes of Wacissa Springs are the best for kayaking and water scenic tours. That’s why kayaking is the most popular sport here.
Similar to Ichetucknee, Wacissa Springs is also a river consisting of many freshwater sources which is ideal for escaping the typical Florida heat. Wacissa Springs is another marsh-like river with the shorelines laden with endless canopies of trees and other beautiful flora.
Note that Wacissa Springs is an extremely family-friendly destination often visited by big groups of people. If you’d like a quieter option, then try out some other destinations on the list.
Kayak rentals start at $30.
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is home to many small springs situated throughout the park but Gilchrist Blue is the crown jewel of this 240-acre area of beautiful green land and the most recent addition to the park.
It’s located 25 miles from Lake City, FL and boasts the bluest waters in all of Florida which makes your kayaking experience all the more memorable. It streams from the mainspring straight into the Santa Fe River.
Naturally, this place is ideally equipped to help its visitors have a good time. There are numerous different water sport options that you can try out other than kayaking. All the equipment and necessary gear can be rented on site.
Prices vary so double check during your planning and preparation.
Weeki Wachee Springs
To the general public Weeki Wachee is most famous for its mermaids. Yep, you read that right. The authorities of Weeki Wachee State Park put on a mermaid show that leaves both adults and kids equally stunned, but did you also know that it’s one of the hotshot kayaking destinations in Florida as well?
Located only a 45 minute drive from Tampa, Weeki Wachee Springs offers all you would expect: waters of all shades of blue with distinctive differences and translucent appearances, all the necessary equipment for your recreational joy and comfort and most importantly, immaculate vibes.
All this will take your kayaking experience to the next level, the price of which starts at $35.
If the fact that Fleetwood Mac’s iconic song and this recreational destination share the same name is not enough to pique your interest then we don’t know what would.
Locals need no introduction seeing as Silver Springs is one of the most cherished and frequented springs in the Sunshine State, but it’s a must visit destination for newcomers, especially for kayakers that haven’t floated on the waters of this area before.
In typical Florida fashion, Silver Springs also boasts a massive pool of blue and green tinted water which is untainted and pristinely maintained despite the large amount of traffic it gets. It’s surrounded by gorgeous green vegetation which creates an even better environment to kayak in.
Rates for kayak rental ranges between $15 – $45.
You can find this jewel 7 miles from Ocala, FL.
The Do’s & Don’ts
Every spring (hot or not) has its own quirks. They all have a set of rules that visitors need to follow regardless of what kind of spring you’re visiting. Visitors need to be extra conscious of their natural hot springs destinations to maintain their authentic feel and allure.
For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts”. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.
The Final Takeaway
As you can see, the picks for the best springs to kayak in Florida are as clear as the spring waters themselves. Tropical-like ambiance, tranquility and relaxation as well as every opportunity to have fun and make some unforgettable memories – it all can be found in these locations. It’s not only the kayaking experiences that’ll stick with you, it’s scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming with manatees too.
So no need to dwell on it any further. Use this comprehensive guide as a starting point to sort through all your thoughts, start planning and kayak all your worries away.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!