• Great Calusa Blueway
  • Suwannee River Paddling Festival
  • Manatees in Blue Spring run  off the St. Johns River
  • Florida Keys Challenge
  • Ocklawaha Odyssey
  • Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee
  • Suwannee River State Park
  • Reflection of limestone banks along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
  • Ocklawaha Odyssey
  • The Great Calusa Blueway

Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure. Paddle Florida, Inc., Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville, Florida Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Gainesville, Florida Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida banner stating their 10 Years Protecting Floridas Waters

Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to support canoeing and kayaking in Florida. Supported, multi-day paddling/camping adventures in each of Florida's five water management districts showcase the state's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism.

Paddle Florida scouts trips in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline campsites are safe, comfortable, and showcase nature's best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminate the need to weigh down boats with food and camping equipment. Florida-based entertainment and educational programming is provided each evening by regional artists, musicians, authors, and naturalists. Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks, and other paddling gear to rent as needed. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can explore and enjoy the REAL Florida!

Our 2017-18 Season of Paddling Adventures


Three travelers in kayaks going down the thickly treelined waterways of the Ocklawaha river

Ocklawaha Odyssey

December 1-5, 2017

Image of the river banks of the Wonderful Withlacoochee trip

Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee

January 18-23, 2018

An Image of A woman in a kayak on the Great calusa Blueway trip

The Great Calusa Blueway

February 10-16, 2018

Image of some kayakers having fun on the suwanne river trail trip

Choctawhatchee Challenge

March 10-16, 2018

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Take a peek at a couple of our most popular paddling adventures on North Florida's famous Suwannee River and in the Florida Keys.


Paddle Florida is proud to be Silver Level certified by the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism. Florida SEE encourages awareness and stewardship of Florida's natural and cultural heritage by endorsing compliance with federal, state, and local laws, providing environmental education, and promoting professionalism and integrity.


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Refund Policy: Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Any fees refunded by Paddle Florida will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

2016 Paddle Florida 990 Form

Craig Sullivan ~ December 2017

(11/30/2017) Where are you from? Your profession?  I was a labor and employment lawyer, representing management, in St. Louis, Missouri.  Retired, I moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia four years ago. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  We live on the marsh with a tidal creek.  I wanted to explore the marsh, so I bought an inexpensive inflatable kayak, kind of a plastic baby pool shaped to look like a kayak.  So maybe calling it a kayak is like calling a time-share condo in Jackson Hole a “ranch.”  But it was almost perfect for tooling around the creek behind the house.  The “almost” concerns alligators.  One day an alligator rose up right next to the kayak, dove, spinning the kayak in a circle. To get away, I became the Lance Armstrong of inflatable kayakers.  I realized my kayak was a plastic balloon, as impenetrable for an alligator as cotton candy.  One alligator nibble and it was thick heavy limp plastic, enveloping me, sinking.  And I was food.   As I write this I’m wondering if the kayak came with warnings: “Do not use in alligator infested waters.”   Or maybe they just figured anyone with common sense would know that. Anyway, I then bought a 14’ kayak. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  The Suwannee River. What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? An osprey stooping and catching a fish about 20 feet away.  [Editor’s note: We think the alligator story above is also pretty good.  :) ] Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on?  The Suwannee five-day trip twice and the spring Suwannee festival once.  I have only gone on river trips. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  For me the whole experience is a highlight. On the Suwanee trip, you spend five days with really interesting people, a low-key friendly group with wide-ranging curiosity, interests, and experiences. And everyone is helpful.  No one is showy.   I’ve been on a lot of multi-day bike trips with a certain pressure to get up and on the road.  With Paddle Florida, nothing is rushed.  Everything is peaceful.  You explore what is interesting, go ashore to explore and stretch.  I enjoy the simplicity of camping and the irresponsibility of someone else doing the planning, feeding, carrying my stuff from campsite to campsite, my only “duty” being to kayak down the river.   Osprey, eagles, red shouldered hawks, little blue heron, the omnipresent belted kingfishers.   At night the barred owls talk a lot, calling back and forth.  The  mystical morning mist on the river.  It’s soul cleansing.  And you can’t get lost.  What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  If you enjoy being on the water in a self-propelled boat, sign up.  Put aside all self-doubt and misgivings and do it.   My first Paddle Florida trip began three days after we got back home from the Hurricane Matthew evacuation.  I was stressed and asked myself what a novice kayaker like me was thinking of when I signed up for a five-day kayak trip.  When I got home after the trip, I immediately signed up for more trips.  I am truly a Happy Paddler!  I love going on these trips.  Also bring a layer of fleece or wool and a jacket and a pair of wool socks.  Nights can be chilly.  If you are a novice kayaker, make it known that you welcome advice and make it a learning experience.  When someone tells you that your paddle is upside down, be appreciative.

Mary Boothe ~ November 2017

(10/30/2017) ​Where are you from? Your profession? I currently live in Augusta, Georgia. I grew up in an Air Force Family, moving every 3-5 years.  I am a retired chemistry and sciences teacher, and former Scout field director and Trainer.  I've been an outdoor girl all my life, growing up on a bayou in North Florida and the streams of Virginia. When and how did you become interested in paddling? I began canoeing in the Girl Scouts, and my first trip was as a camp counselor on the Shenandoah River.  My kayaking began about 12 years ago with Venture Scouts. My first kayak trip was a three days along intracoastal Georgia, with enthusiastic teens.  After that I was hooked, and now I've just bought my sixth kayak.  It's longer, leaner and faster! Where is your favorite place to paddle? I love narrow winding streams, untouched by civilization. Though often hard to find, they are beautiful, serene, and nature's tranquilizers.  I am looking forward to paddling in the Okeefenokee Swamp again this year. If you haven't been in its back waters, it's worth the effort. What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I love flora and fauna, and seeing new sights. Seeing manatees in Florida is exciting, but here's another one.  Heading out in the early dawn mist in the Okeefenokee, I paddled over a small sleeping gator around four feet long!  Neither of us saw each other and no harm done.  (Yes, they prefer NOT to interact with humans, as long as you DON'T feed them!) Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on? I began simply with the beautiful three-day Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble. I've enjoyed the warm springs along the Withlacoochee, the rustic beauty along the Ochlockonee, and last fall I enjoyed Silver Springs on the Ocklawaha Odyssey.  Hard to pick a favorite! Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? Other than paddling pristine Florida rivers and adventuring through wilderness areas, I truly enjoy the people I've met and new friends made on Paddle Florida trips.  It's a joy not to have to bring food, and transport gear, and to be treated to excellent evenings of entertainment!  I like it all, even paddling in the rain. (Well not so much the wind!)   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Pack for comfort and changeable weather.  It's better to have waterproof gloves and windproof jackets and not wear them, then to be cold or wet! Also ALWAYS pack your sleeping back in a dry bag, because if you can't sleep, you won't want to paddle the next day. When in doubt about what to pack, ask someone who has gone before. I love the new fabrics that wick moisture and dry rapidly, and also keep you warm when it's chilly outside.  Like the Scouts say: "be prepared,” and “go with the flow.”     "Life is like a river, always changing and going somewhere."  ~ Mary Boothe

Kathy Hancock ~ October 2017

(09/30/2017) Where are you from? Your profession? I grew up in Florida but have lived in Atlanta for a total of 35 years. I retired five years ago from my position as a Research Microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).You have tackled some impressive outdoor pursuits. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable ones? Shortly before retiring, I went on a weekend outing to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains with two friends. A stop at the Visitor Center led to a discussion of the Appalachian Trail, and a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, "Oh, I could do that now." Aside from a backpacking trip on Cumberland Island in the early 1980s, I had no backpacking experience. But I love being outdoors and being active. I started my hike on the AT in 2014 and finished it in 2016.When and how did you become interested in paddling? I've had scattered experience with paddling canoes and kayaks since college and I've always enjoyed it. I made a friend on the AT who is passionate about kayaking and very active with the club in the Augusta, GA area. I joined them for two days of beginner training using borrowed boat, paddle, and PFD. The prior year, while camping on Knights Key, I met a Paddle Florida group paddling in the Florida Keys. That was my introduction to Paddle Florida.Where is your favorite place to paddle? My favorite place to paddle is on Paddle Florida trips. You'd that since I live in Georgia, I'd do some paddling here. I hope to someday, but the problem is that I also like to cycle. I have cycling buddies here and it is so much easier to put my bike on my car than it is to put my kayak on my car.What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? The challenges you've met tend to be memorable. The last day of paddling on the Great Calusa Blueway required paddling across open water, into the wind, with a significant chop on the water. I should have put my spray skirt on, but didn't realize it. I fell behind, but Paddle Florida volunteer Janice Hindson stayed with me and I made it across in plenty of time to enjoy the post-paddle BBQ feast.Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on? After my beginner lessons, I was eager to get on the water. The Paddle Florida trip down the Suwannee River in 2015 looked great. I checked into renting a kayak, but that didn't work out. Fortunately for me, I quickly found a used kayak on Craig's List that is just right for me. Timing was tight, so my first time paddling in my lovely purple and gray Perception Shadow was on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. Since then I've gone on two of the 2016 trips: Great Calusa Blueway and the Ocklawaha Odyssey. This December I'll be back on the Ocklawaha trip.Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? Each day, the slide of the kayak into the water, the first strokes, and the excitement of getting on the water is thrilling. Each day brings its own special adventures. At the end of the paddle, I'm always very happy to spot the take-out spot for the evening.What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Sign up! The trips are well organized, the food is delicious, and the camaraderie is terrific.

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