Kayaking is not just a sport to be had by extreme thrill seekers. The whole family can enjoy kayaking in southwest Florida. The beaches and rivers, bays and harbors, including many state parks in the area are perfect for the family outdoor kayaking adventure.
Even young children can learn to paddle a kayak. For those who are too young to paddle on their own, tandem or double kayaks can be rented from outfitters in the area. Most outfitters will train you before setting you loose to kayak on your own. Another option is to do a guided tour with an experienced outfitter.
Kayaking avails the opportunity to get into shallow waters and back- bay areas where other boats cannot go. The wildlife and ecosystems found there provide ample entertainment and are educational as well.
Beach kayaking is great fun on a day with choppy water in the Gulf, and the calm days with a view through the crystal clear water give families the chance to see Florida wildlife from a unique perspective.
As with any outdoor sport, care should be taken and safety precautions heeded, especially when dealing with young children and water sports. Be sure your child can swim, and that they are wearing properly fitting life vests. Helmets are not usually necessary for kayaking in Florida, as the only whitewater available is in North Florida. It is wise to check with local experts about any dangers in the area concerning boat traffic, or currents. Always pay attention to the weather and be prepared to get off the water quickly in case of a storm. Any time you are in the sun and the heat, there is a risk of dehydration and sun burn. With a little planning and awareness families can get out and enjoy a wonderful time in the great outdoors without fear.
If you have tried kayaking with the family and know it’s a good fit, it is wise to invest in owning your own. There are affordable options available to purchase kayaks. The sit on top variety, which are a great choice for young children and adults alike, can be found at bulk warehouse retailers for under $100 ranging up to over $1000. Check with local outfitters for deals on rentals, or resale on used kayaks as well. It’s a good idea to try several types before deciding which, is the best fit for your family.
Another tip for kayaking with young children is to never paddle further than you can haul them back. Young children tire easily, and until they are accustomed to paddling, may become weary and expect you to pull them. Go easy at first and don’t push too hard. The idea is to introduce them to this great sport and to have them love it. A little goes a long way with the younger sect.
Once kids are used to kayaking and have become confident paddlers, they will thoroughly enjoy exploring longer distances. The Calusa Blueway is a great resource for planning a bigger kayaking adventure. A few of the paddling trips best suited for families are listed here.
In the Charlotte harbor area, be sure to check out Grande Tours for your family kayaking rentals and tours.