South Florida’s waterways are ripe for exploration harboring miles of lush, hidden mangroves that stretch across Miami-Dade and Broward County. Often framed by nearby skylines, these verdant pathways are set against the region’s famous blue-green waters, creating a juxtaposing beauty every local ought to witness up close. We’ve rounded up some of the best places and ways to hit the water.
Miami-Dade County has an entire department devoted to outdoor exploration, hosting guided canoeing and kayaking excursions from multiple parks county-wide. Among them are Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park, Miami’s A.D. Barnes Park, Palmetto Bay’s Bill Sadowski Park and Nature Center, and Coral Gables Matheson Hammock Park. Miami Eco Adventure’s year-round recreational programming includes sunrise and sunset outings that can be combined with snorkeling and fishing.
Miami Dade Gove
A water launch on Hollywood Beach equals hours of potential routes that meander through the expansive West Lake and the Stranahan River (which connects up to Dania Beach’s Whiskey Creek, and beyond). Those with their own craft can easily launch from Holland Park; those without a ride can reserve one from WaterWay Adventures, located at 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar and Grill: They’ve got stand-up paddleboards and kayaks as well as group guides and full moon adventures.
What’s in a name? When it comes to Sunset Harbour, the name speaks for itself–it’s the best spot to view a sunset, and it can be even more stunning from a watercraft. Before the sun sneaks away behind the Miami skyline, explorers can weave through the mansion-lined Sunset Island canals and then circle back to the open ocean water. Miami Beach Paddleboard hosts a neon sunset paddle, in which the SUP’s bottom is illuminated with LED light. Or for another daytime, only-in-Miami experience, book a trip to Monument Island with South Beach Kayak.
Oleta River State Park reigns supreme as a cityscaped oasis. It’s a popular spot for self-guided tours but provides a plethora of paddling and rental options. The park’s onsite ROAM Oleta River Outdoor Center is one of the few local spots with water bikes and paddleboard yoga, but they also offer up SUP, kayaks, and canoes, as well as full moon and sunset trips.
Discover a little slice of old Floridian paradise on Virginia Key off the Rickenbacker Causeway. It’s home to Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC), a recreational center devoted to environmental sustainability: It’s also one of the best places to spot native wildlife. In addition to the normal rentals and tours, VKOC hosts manatee spotting tours throughout Jimbo’s Lagoon. Lucky guests might even catch a dolphin jumping about.
Virginia Key Outdoor Center
Cover photo: Greater Miami and the Beaches.
Liana Lozada is a writer, storyteller, and social media director with journalism roots. She’s a South Florida native who has been covering the local market for over ten years. When she’s not typing away or exploring around town (i.e., eating), you’ll likely catch her at the gym, perusing a flea market, playing with her dog, or staring at her fridge.