• 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

Stay tuned...our 2018-19 season will be announced here on June 1.

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

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.







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

Brian Wyllie ~ May 2018

(04/26/2018) Where are you from? Your profession?  I am originally from Riverton, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  I was a general contractor in Brigantine (one island north of Atlantic City) as well as the owner of Brigantine Sailboards, until my wife and I moved to Florida in 1990. I currently live in Fort Myers. My wife died 10 years ago.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I grew up racing sailboats on the Delaware from about age 8 on. My friend had a lake in his backyard and I learned to paddle a canoe at the age of 5. We spent a lot of time chasing turtles and fish in canoes and got very good at paddling. The town that I grew up in had a world famous boat building company that built wooden racing sailboats (Lippincott Boatworks). My brother and I built our first boat at age 10. I have been building boats ever since. After moving to Florida, I helped a friend build a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak and decided to build one for myself. My wife wanted one also and to date I think I’ve built eight kayaks.   Where is your favorite place to paddle? We usually paddle in the mangroves of the Calusa Blueway and the small rivers in the area. Also down in the 10,000 Islands area. I think that my favorite river is the short Silver River at Silver Springs. It is beautiful, clear, and has monkeys!   What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I enjoy being lifted out of the water by manatees as they surface for air.  I have had it happen often.  The most recent incident was on the Loxahatchee over near Johnathan Dickinson State Park on the east coast.   Which Paddle Florida trips have you taken?   I have been on this year’s Choctawhatchee Challenge and last year's Dam to the Bay trip on the Ochlocknee River.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I prefer the narrower rivers, so my highlight would be seeing the environment along the Ochlocknee River.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Based on our recent Choctawhatchee trip, my advice is to start with one of the easier trips to see if you have the skills to handle more challenging waterways. Paddling on lakes or without current is not the same as a 5-knot current with hairpin river bends!  

Kathy Stark ~ April 2018

(03/29/2018) Where are you from? Your profession?  I am a Jacksonville native and professional fine artist specializing in large scale watercolors of our state’s natural surroundings.    When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I come from a “water family.”  Growing up, we spent time together canoeing, water skiing, swimming, fishing, sailing and windsurfing. Now my two brothers and I share our family lake house on Little Lake Santa Fe where we have lots of water toys, kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, and sailboats. My kayaking interest was sparked in college while going on whitewater rivers in Georgia and North Carolina. After graduation, I bartered a painting for my very first kayak - one for the flat waters of Florida, though, not whitewater. I’ve collected four kayaks now and my favorite is a sit-on-top that has a flat foot area where my golden retriever, Tanner, can comfortably ride with me. He adds to the enjoyment and adventure of any paddle. Where is your favorite place to paddle? I always enjoy canoe camping on the St. Marys River. Pulling over onto a random wide sand bar to camp overnight is pretty awesome. I also love the beauty of the Silver River and have painted several paintings from paddling trips there. The Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers are always fun too. From my neighborhood I have several access points to the St. Johns River and Ortega River, so that is always fun. The Jacksonville area has a lot of nice places to paddle in fresh, brackish, and salt water.  So, I guess I don't have one favorite. I just really enjoy being on the water and exploring new areas.   Tell us about your book and art project which features North Florida parks and waterways.  In 2017 I published a book The Wilderness of North Florida’s Parks, which is a unique blend of art, education, history, and community. It has 19 of my large scale landscape paintings of our area’s extensive park system and 60 parks are featured with sketchbook journal page entries about them. I designed it to be a resource, guide, and handbook, as well as a tribute to the great unspoiled stretches of my region. There’s a  corresponding traveling art exhibit of the project to inspire people to visit these special places.  I intend to continue painting more Florida landscapes, and trips with Paddle Florida are a great way to research new subject matter. Maybe another book and exhibit will come soon…. What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? No thrilling story to tell, but what keeps bringing me back to the water for a paddle is just getting outside, spotting wildlife, and discovering the next painting to paint.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  It might not sound like a highlight, but on my first and only (so far) Paddle Florida trip on the Withlacoochee River it was unseasonably cold for several nights.  I now know I can camp in weather as cold as 27 degrees!  Brrrr!!! I was nervous about the temperature drop but came prepared with lots of warm layers and a warm sleeping bag. I gained a new found appreciation for those activated charcoal hand, foot, and body warmers. Don't skimp on bringing those little but helpful heat generators.  Fortunately, the days were perfect for kayaking. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  If you’re concerned about safety on these trips, be assured the volunteer guides who lead each day’s paddle are impressive.  On the Withlacoochee trip, they “MacGyvered” a patch for a hole punched into a kayak, helped people make it over or around tree falls, and expertly helped someone get back in their boat when they tipped over in open water. And best of all, they knew where they were going on the river!

Ed McLaughlin ~ March 2018

(02/28/2018) Where are you from? Your profession?  I live in Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Philly, but now live in the coal region, about eight miles from the Yuengling Brewery. I'm a retired school administrator. I directed special education programs and school services for several school districts.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Growing up, my family went to the Jersey shore every summer and I always loved the water. When I moved out and started "adulting," I did a little paddling in a big old Coleman canoe with the family, but really never got out too much. I live near the Schuylkill River and they have a "Sojourn" every year which is a week-long paddling/camping trip that I had wanted to go on for years. When I finally retired, I signed up. It was my first trip, I was out of shape, and had the absolutely worst kayak for that kind of trip. I thought I would die. Even as sore and exhausted as I was, I knew I was hooked. In the 10 years since, I've taken 25-30 trips all over Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Actually it was on one of these trips that some fellow sojourners told me about Paddle Florida. Since my daughter lives in Tampa I figured I could do a "twofer.”   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's a tough call.  I love the Delaware River because of the wildlife in the north, rapids in the middle, and the historic and interesting flat water at the lower end.  But since my first trip in Florida....   What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? Another tough call.  I have to go with the springs. Up here, a spring is where you fill your water bottle while hiking. I was blown away when I paddled into the springs on my first trip on the Suwannee.    Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on?  The Suwannee, Ocklawaha, and Withlacoochee, but they won't be my last.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I already talked about the springs, but another highlight were the monkeys on the Ocklawaha.  Another thing that stands out was the thunderstorm on the last day on the Ocklawaha.  The howling tailwind blowing us through two-foot waves, in the rain, and over barely submerged pilings was a real blast.  I know not everyone enjoyed the experience, but again I had a blast.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  This is an easy one:  GO. A Paddle Florida trip is the easiest and safest way to get on the water and experience Florida, and its people, at its best.  If you live in Florida and haven't seen it from the water, you haven't really seen it.  When you do, it might just change your life.

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