• 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

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.

Bud Para ~ September 2017

(08/30/2017) ​Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)? I'm originally from Arkansas, went to Georgia Tech, and have lived in Jacksonville, FL for the last 40 years. I'm am engineer, retired from JEA (the Jacksonville electric water and sewer utility).  When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I have always liked being on the water and have done a lot of sailing. My wife Kathy, brother Charlie, and I had inflatable kayaks that we used for short day trips in the creeks and rivers of northeast Florida. Two years ago, Charlie and I saw an article about Paddle Florida, went to an informational meeting at REI (led by Jill), and six of us signed up for the Dam to the Bay trip. It was a great trip, and three of us did it again in 2017.  And we bought recreational kayaks.  Where is your favorite place to paddle?  My favorite paddling, besides the Paddle Florida trips, are the many creeks and marshes close to home in Jacksonville. A few of us paddle once or twice a week in northeast Florida. Sometimes we launch next to a bridge in the middle of town and in minutes are paddling through Old Florida, with marsh on one side and backyards on the other. Other times we drive 30 minutes to launch in a national, state, or city park and paddle for three hours without seeing another boat or person. Lots of birds, turtles, and fish.  What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Once we launched at Fort Clinch on Amelia Island and paddled across the St. Mary's River inlet to Cumberland Island in Georgia to see the wild horses. On the way back we had to stop as a nuclear submarine with its tenders passed by on its way out to sea.  Having an airboat cut a trail for us through the water lettuce on Paddle Florida’s Ocklawaha Odyssey has to be my strangest paddling experience.  How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? Besides the Dam to the Bay trip on the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River, I also joined Paddle Florida in December 2016 for the Ocklawaha Odyssey.  Quite an adventure—water lettuce, airboats, and squalls—oh my!  I plan on joining Paddle Florida again this November for the Flagler Coastal paddle, and next February and March for the Calusa Blueway and the Choctawhatchee Challenge.  What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?   Just go!  The paddling, the food, the truck (which carries your stuff), and the folks are all the best. Bring a camp chair. 

Lynn Whittaker ~ August 2017

(07/30/2017) ​Where are you from?  Your profession?   I am from Utah and have lived there most my life.  I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and retired from the mental health field in 2012.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I must admit I am not a very experienced paddler, having spent most of my outdoor energy in the deserts of Utah and the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.  But my camping friend Paul Westberry contacted me in late summer of 2008 and said I should join him for a paddle on the Suwanee River in November.  November in Utah is generally pretty cold with inversions that cause bad air, so I figured I would head out to sunny Florida and enjoy a leisurely paddle down the exotic river of Stephan Foster fame.  The first night at Stephan Foster State Park the temperature went down to freezing.  Surprise to me.  All was well the next morning when we headed out on the misty, chilly, mysterious river.  It was great and I was hooked.     Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I tend to enjoy the rivers more than the ocean--I suppose due to the mysteries of seeing what’s around the next bend.  But I have loved every minute of all my travels with Paddle Florida (except maybe that time on the Keys trip with forty mph headwind, driving rain, paddling against an outgoing tide with only a mile to go to camp that took an hour).  I suppose I enjoy the Suwanee trips the best of all.  I have done a couple with different beginnings and enjoy seeing new territory.  It is all a wonderful adventure for a boy from Utah. I just love the misty morning take-offs with the moody black water, birds, wildlife, and Spanish moss dangling from trees.  Very different from the high deserts out west.    What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? All the trips I have been on have been exciting adventures, but the most startling perhaps was hearing an eerie noise up ahead on the Peace River.  On paddling 'round the bend, I saw a big old dog with a feral hog by the ear in the river.  Squealing and huffing and struggling and water flying and WOW--that's just something you don't see every day!  That dog was locked on and was not about to let go.  The hog was not going to submit.  So it went on and on until I was downriver and out of sight.  We did see the cowboy on the bank later on and let him know that his dog was upstream and perhaps had bitten off more than he could chew.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Paul Westberry has roped me into coming down to Florida almost every year for a paddle trip for many years now.  It is hard tearing myself away from snow shoveling and freezing temps in Utah, but because Paul is a generous and tolerant man, he has encouraged (and provided equipment) for me to paddle the Peace River at least three times, Suwannee at least twice, and the Keys Challenge twice. The latest trip was the Great Calusa Blueway last February.  I am a lucky man.    Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I cannot even begin to pick out highlights from my Paddle Florida trips.   When I get there and all I have to do is eat, load my grip on the truck, paddle down that lazy river, pull my kayak out on the bank at the end of the day after a lovely (usually warm and scenic) day, sit in my camp chair to rest up and then eat again, well it is just too difficult to pick highlights.  It's all highlights.  And the programs in the evening--they are great.  Quality entertainment and/or interesting science and local knowledge every night, hanging out with smart people--where else can you get all this in one go?  Cruise ship I suppose, but they don't travel on the Suwannee or let you paddle at your own speed, and they may not have the concentration of smart people.  Did I mention the food?  Great food from local folks.  I have never gone to bed hungry.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  If I had never gone on a trip with Paddle Florida and was considering it, and didn't know Paul Westberry, I would call Jill and talk with her or any of the folks associated with Paddle Florida.  They will help you out with what equipment you need and stuff to bring and such.  They'll make sure you have a great trip. This is a great organization.  

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