Thank You to Our Local Sponsors

Go Paddling: Canoe and Kayak Rentals and Guided Tours in Central Florida

Florida Canoe Kayak Rental Near You

Our year round beautiful weather makes Central Florida a great place for exploring the water by canoe or kayak. Interested in exploring a local river, floating through a crystal clear spring, or maybe seeing manatees and dolphins in their natural habitat? If you’re looking for places to go kayaking near you, we can help you plan a day of outdoor fun.

Below you’ll find 15 different amazing locations for canoe rentals near you and kayak rentals near you in Central Florida. Both fresh water paddling trips and salt water kayaking trips are available near Lakeland and in the Tampa Bay area, and if you aren’t comfortable kayaking on your own, there are also plenty of guided kayak tours available.

If you’ve never tried kayaking, it is easy to learn! Kayaks used for rentals and tours are typically sit on top kayaks or ocean kayaks designed to easily navigate calm waters and minor waves. They are very stable, and if you do happen to tip over – you simply fall into the water. Tandem kayak rental (2 person) and canoes are also available, which means mom or dad (or older brother/sister) can do the paddling while the younger kids enjoy the ride. Kayaking in Florida is a great outdoor activity for families.

Interested in going tubing or swimming in a spring near you? We can help you find those too!

Tips for booking a Canoe or Kayaking Tour:

  • Make a few phone calls – most rental places and tours want to be sure you have a great experience and will help you determine the best fit for your family. Most places have a minimum age.
  • Make a reservation if possible, especially if you’re heading somewhere that isn’t close to home.
  • Weekdays are always less crowded than weekends, mornings are always cooler than afternoons.
  • Tandem kayaks and canoes are available and encouraged if you have younger children who might not be able to paddle the entire trip.
  • Inquire about gloves or take a pair with you, especially for any younger paddlers. When we went recently I didn’t realize until it was too late that my 9 year old son had a blister forming, which made it hard for him to keep paddling.
  • Look for other options in the area to extend your canoe or kayak trip into a full day – we’ve included details below on other activities near some of these locations.
Clear Kayak Rental Florida Beach

What to bring on a kayak tour or canoe tour:

  • A sense of adventure
  • Water
  • Dry bag for phone, car remote, etc.
  • Bathing suit or outdoor clothing
  • Towel & Change of Clothes for the ride home
  • Sunscreen & Lip Balm
  • Insect repellant
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Paddling gloves (check with rental company to see if they are available)
  • Snacks or lunch
  • Cash gratuity

Check the requirements for food and drink containers before you go – some rivers are “non-disposable” meaning you can’t take any paper, plastic, glass, or styrofoam on the river.

Editor’s Note: There are MANY more great locations for kayaking in Florida, we only listed locations where kayak rentals are available. We’re also located in Lakeland, FL so the canoe and kayak rental locations listed below include an approximate time when mapped from downtown Lakeland, FL. Times may vary from other locations in Polk County and across Central Florida. Use our handy dandy map at the bottom to find kayaking near you.

Kayak + Canoe Rentals Near You: Polk County

Colt Creek State Park (North Lakeland)

Colt Creek State Park is located north of Lakeland off 471. Rent a canoe or kayak to explore Mac Lake with a chance to see wading birds, turtles and alligators. You can also explore 15 miles of multi-use trails by foot, bike, or horseback, that meander through the pine flatwoods and natural creeks and wetlands.

Park admission is $4 per vehicle. Visitors may bring their own boats or rent one from the park. The park offers canoe rentals plus single and double kayaks for rent. First come first served beginning when the park opens at 8am. Canoes and kayaks must be returned one hour before sunset.

Location: 16000 SR 471, Lakeland FL 33809
More info: Colt Creek Website | 863-815-6761
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 15 minutes

Lake Crago (North Lakeland)

Lake Crago is home to Lakeland’s first outdoor recreation complex that offers water sport activities. Lake Crago is a 50 acre lake with wildlife and a scenic shoreline, making it a peaceful paddle, plus there is a canal that heads south to much larger Lake Parker.

Unfortunately there is not currently a place to rent kayaks or canoes at Lake Crago but there is a launch if you own your own canoe or kayak.

Location: 525 Lake Crago Dr, Lakeland, FL 33805
More info: Lake Crago Website
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 5 minutes

Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven

Explore nature from a canoe or kayak right here in Polk County! Off the Chain Kayak offers drop off and pick up kayak equipment rentals on your choice of Winter Haven area Chain of Lakes. Tours are self-guided, but they can help provide you with an itinerary, including options for a sunset paddle, nature paddle, or even a paddle to watch the LEGOLAND ski show from the lake. They also do meet-up events.

Interested in paddleboarding? Paddleboard Winter Haven offers guided tours, paddle board rentals, and paddleboard lessons on the Chain of Lakes.

If a boat ride is more your speed, check out Living Water Boat Cruises.

Location: Winter Haven Chain of Lakes {address varies by activity}
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 20 – 30 minutes

Lake Kissimmee State Park

Tour the waterways within the park and/or along the shores of Lake Kissimmee, Lake Rosalie and Tiger Lake. View some of the incredible birds and wildlife inhabiting the area known as the “headwaters” to the Everglades. Rent a kayak or canoe at the park marina’s camp store.

Location: 14248 Camp Mack Rd., Lake Wales FL 33898
More Info: Lake Kissimmee State Park
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour (located in Polk County)

Canoe Kayak Central Florida

Beach Kayak Rentals Near You: Tampa Bay

Shell Key Preserve

Kayak in the salt water at Shell Key Preserve a 1,828-acre preserve located in the mouth of Tampa Bay, which includes a 195-acre barrier island known as Shell Key, located in St. Pete, and only accessible by boat. Your trip may include a paddle through a mangrove tunnel, a stop at a sandbar, and plenty of marine life sightings. Guided tours are highly recommended, options include Get Up and Go Kayaking (CLEAR Kayaks!), See Through Adventures (CLEAR Kayaks!), Coastal Kayak Charters, and Island Kayak Adventures.

Location: Varies by pick-up place
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 15 min

Florida Kayak Rentals Near You

Fort DeSoto Park

You could easily spend a full day at Fort DeSoto Park, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys). These keys are home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and scores of native plants. Kayak rentals are available from the Topwater Kayak Outpost inside the park (they also rent paddle boards and bikes), and guided tours in clear kayaks are available from See Through Adventures.

The park also includes 7 miles of waterfront, a historic fort, a bike trail, nature trails, playgrounds, fishing piers, a dog park and dog beach, and more. Parking is $5 per vehicle.

Location: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL 33715
More info: Fort De Soto Park Website
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 15 min

Weedon Island Preserve

If you’re looking for a peaceful paddle through mangrove tunnels, head to Weedon Island Preserve, with 3,700 acres of protected land and waters along the west side of Tampa Bay. ECOmersion offers kayak rentals if you prefer to explore on your own, and guided tours are available if you’re interested in learning more about the area wildlife (or just prefer to have someone experienced nearby).

Location: 1800 Weedon Drive NE. St. Petersburg, Florida 33702
More info: ECOmersion
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour

Kayak Rental Near Me Central Florida (1)

E.G. Simmons Conservation Park

Located directly on Tampa Bay, this Hillsborough County park includes 200 acres of mangrove swamp that has been especially reserved for a bird and wildlife sanctuary, where bird watchers can gaze at endangered species, such as the Roseate Spoonbill and the Bald Eagle. Canoes and kayaks can be rented on site at the park’s entry station. Park also includes a beach and swimming area, pier, campsites, and two playgrounds.

Address: 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL 33570
More info: (813) 671-7655 | EG Simmons Park Website
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour

River Canoe Rentals Near You: Tampa Bay

Hillsborough River

The Hillsborough River meanders 54 miles through Central Florida, from the Green Swamp to Tampa Bay. In some places the water is stained reddish-brown by the tannic acid from the decaying leaves and other vegetation in the swamp. Both state and county parks are located on the river’s banks. Access points include the Hillsborough River State Park, Lettuce Lake Park, and The Wilderness Park, along with some smaller neighborhood parks.

Flovibez Kayak Rentals rents single kayaks, double kayaks, and canoes and also offers Hillsborough River canoe and kayak guided tours.
Location: 15402 N Us Highway 301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592
More info: Flovibez Kayak Rentals
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 40 min

Edward Medard Conservation Park

Among the main attractions at Edward Medard Conservation Park in Hillsborough County is a 700-acre reservoir used for canoeing, boating, and fishing. Also included is a 3-mile trail that offers equestrians, hikers, and bird watchers a pleasant trip through pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks.

Edward Medard Park also offers picnic shelters, a boardwalk, a playground for the kids, and an observation platform overlooking the reservoir, as well as disc golf and sand volleyball, giving you plenty of options for a fun way to fill an entire day! Canoes and kayaks can be rented on site at the park’s entry station.

Location: 6140 Turkey Creek Rd., Plant City, FL 33567
More info: (813) 757-3802 | Website
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 30 min

Little Manatee River

This freshwater river makes many twists and turns through a shaded hammock of oaks, bays, ash and hickory in the narrow upstream portion. Heading downstream, the river becomes more brackish, and the main channel is wide, open and sunny before leaving the park to complete its journey to Cockroach Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Very limited rentals are available from the ranger station in Little Manatee River State Park. We recommend booking a trip with Canoe Outpost, you can call them for the most current river conditions report and to discuss which trip is right for your experience level and interests. (TIP: they also host moonlight paddles that include a campfire with live music and s’mores!)

Location: 18001 US-301, Wimauma, FL 33598
More info: Little Manatee River State Park | Canoe Outpost
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour

Florida Springs Kayaking Tours + Manatee Kayaking Tours

Weeki Wachee Kayaking

Kayak with the manatees on the Weeki Wachee River. Manatee season is November – March, which is the best time to try and see a manatee, but the Weeki Wachee River is a beautiful kayaking spot year round. On your trip you might also see otters, shore birds and a variety of fish. Swimming is permitted in the river except in the section of Weeki Wachee State Park. The Weeki Wachee River is a non-disposable river.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is also open for visitors including Buccaneer Bay Water Park – natural springs where you can go swimming.

Canoe & Kayak Rental options in Weeki Wachee include Weeki Fresh Water Adventures (Official Provider located in the State Park), The Kayak Shack, Weeki Wachee Marina, and Weeki Wachee Kayaking. Be sure to ask whether you are booking a one way paddle or round trip, as well as age minimums.

Location: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
More info: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Website
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 30 min

Silver Springs State Park

Often called Florida’s first tourist attraction, glass bottom boat tours have been running at Silver Springs for over 100 years! (Random trivia – Over 20 movies have also been filmed here including Creature from the Black Lagoon, and six Tarzan movies).

Rental options within Silver Springs State Park include kayaks, clear kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. Glass bottom boat tours are also available. Additional kayak and canoe rentals and tour providers include Kayak Florida, Discovery Kayak Rentals, and Clear Canoeing.

Area wildlife includes birds, alligators, and monkeys (although we have read the monkeys are going to be removed from the State Park). The monkeys can be aggressive and should be observed from a distance.

Location: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488
More info: Silver Springs State Park
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 2 hours

Rainbow River & Rainbow Springs State Park

The crystal clear water of the Rainbow River is what makes it such a popular destination for kayaking and river tubing in Florida. Wildlife is abundant and at a 1 MPH flow, you can enjoy a leisurely float or paddle down the river. While you’re in the area you can also check out Rainbow Springs State Park.

Kayak, clear canoe/clear kayak rentals, and tube rentals are available from Rainbow River Kayak Adventures and Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak. Rentals are also available in the State Park but seem to be first come first serve.

Location: 19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432
More info: Rainbow Springs State Park
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 2 hours

Clear Kayak Tour Florida
Photo courtesy Get Up and Go Kayaking

Crystal River

The Crystal River area includes an abundance of options for canoeing or kayaking, including Kings Bay, Crystal River, the Chassahowitzka River (The Chaz), Three Sisters Springs, Jurassic Springs, Hunter Springs.

More info: Options for guided tours and rentals include Crystal River Kayak Company, Get Up and Go Kayaking, Captain Mike’s, Bird’s Underwater Dive Shop.
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 45 min

Wekiwa Springs & Wekiwa River – Orlando Kayaking

A popular natural attraction northwest of Orlando, at Wekiwa Springs State Park you can swim in crystal-clear Wekiwa Springs where the water is a refreshing 72 degrees year-round. The springs feed the Wekiwa River and lush tropical hammocks where you can canoe or kayak the Wekiwa River. Rentals within the park are available from Wekiwa Springs State Park Nature Adventures – 407-884-4311.

Note that if you’re planning to visit Wekiwa Springs State Park, go on a weekday – they have very high visitation on weekends and holidays, and the park will close when it reaches capacity (150 cars).

Wekiwa Outfitters also provides guided tours and rentals on the Wekiwa River.

Location: 1800 Wekiwa Cir., Apopka FL 32712
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 30 min

Bioluminescence Kayaking in Florida

Cocoa Beach, Indian River, Merritt Island Refuge

Located on Florida’s East Coast, a night time bioluminescence tour in the Merritt Island Refuge is a one of a kind experience. Bioluminescence is created by organisms in the water that emit light and glow. Note that bioluminescent kayaking tours are in the dark, ideal for older children and adults.

Daytime tours and rentals from these companies are also available to experience the variety of wildlife in the Merritt Island Refuge.

More info: A Day Away Kayak Tours, Calypso Kayaking, Cocoa Kayaking, and Get Up and Go Kayaking offer these bioluminescence Florida kayaking night time tours – some of them in a glass bottom kayak.
Estimated Driving Distance from Lakeland: 1 hour 45 min

MAP: Kayak Rentals Near You

Looking for a truly unique outdoor adventure in Florida? Learn more about clear kayak tours and other unique local experiences on our travel + day trips page.

Outdoor Activities Guide

Check out our full Outdoor Fun Guide for more outdoor things to do in Lakeland, Polk County, and Central Florida.