Lucky for us, Jacksonville is home to not only the beach, but numerous other waterways. This makes it the perfect place to learn to surf, and also partake in some paddling. So grab the kids and hit the water with our handy guide to paddleboarding and kayaking in and around Jacksonville.
Favorite Paddling Launch Sites in Jacksonville
If you have your own boards or kayaks then these are some great spots where you can easily launch. There are dozens more launch areas in the greater Jacksonville area, these are just a few of our family friendly favorites.
Dutton Island Preserve – Located at the end of Dutton Island Drive, west of Mayport Road. Dutton Island consists of 9,000 feet of nature trails, a fishing and viewing pier, a canoe/kayak launch, picnic areas, pavilions, camping areas, and parking. There is no charge to enter the park.
Guana Research Reserve – Guana covers 74,000 acres of coastal lands in northeast Florida and is one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves around the country. There is no charge to launch a kayak or paddleboard, but if you want to visit the Environmental Education Center there is a small fee.
Castaway Island Preserve – Castaway has a bike trail, restrooms and a place to launch your kayak or canoe to explore the estuary. Picnic tables with grills are available around the nature center. There is no charge to enter the park.
Wicked Barley Brewing Company – Located on the Goodbys Creek waterway, Wicked Barley is a brewery that offers craft ales as well as a dock for launching your kayak or paddleboard. There is no charge to use their launch, food and drinks are available for purchase in the brewery.
Best Guided Paddling Tours in Jacksonville
If you’re new to kayaking or paddleboarding you might want to first hit the water as part of a guided eco tour. Tours can range in time from a quick 30 minute trip, to a half or even whole day adventure. Many outfitters also offer family eco tours that are suitable for the kids. All of the tour companies also offer rentals if you’d rather venture out on your own.
Kayak Amelia – Kayak Amelia is the official outfitter for Talbot Island State Parks. Guided kayak & SUP nature tours are a great way to learn about kayaking and the local environment. Depending on which tour you’re interested in, some experience may be required.
St. Augustine Eco Tours – St. Augustine Eco Tours offers one of the most unique and user friendly kayak tours in the Southeast. They are located in the heart of Historic Downtown St. Augustine with a dedicated slip at the city marina.
North Guana Outpost – Explore the beauty of North Florida by water with a guided kayak or paddleboard tour in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) as well as specialty tours in other locations in NE Florida.
Amelia Island Paddle Surf Company – An eco tour on a paddle board is a great way to enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty of Amelia Island and the surrounding area. All paddle board tours start with a SUP safety briefing and some basic paddling instruction on land.
Rent Paddleboards or Kayaks in Jacksonville
If a tour isn’t your thing and you’d just like to rent a paddleboard or kayak to try out on your own check out these great local rental options. Also note that all of the guided tour outfitters listed above also offer rental options.
East Coast Sport Rentals – East Coast Sport Rentals is located on the north end of Jacksonville beach, with a hut right on the beach, so you don’t have to carry or transport any equipment. They offer a wide variety of beach rental needs including surfboard rentals, kayak rentals, stand up paddleboard rentals, and more.
Anastasia Watersports – Anastasia Watersports offers SUP and kayak rentals. They are located within Anastasia State Park and State Park admission fees apply in addition to watersport rental fees.
Palm Valley Outdoors – Palm Valley Outdoors offers kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals.
They also have a Waterfront Seafood Restaurant connected to them.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park – Hanna Park has lots of amenities to offer, including kayak rentals. The 60 acre fresh water lake offers paddlers a chance to view this wildlife up close including Great Blue Heron to the American Alligator. Cost to enter the park is $5 per car in addition to rental fees.
Best Paddling Classes in Jacksonville
If the idea of a guided tour or just renting your own equipment makes you nervous. Consider taking a class to teach you the basics of paddling. There are several spots around Jacksonville where adults and kids can take group or private lessons.
Black Creek Outfitters – Black Creek offers private and group kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and SUP yoga classes located on the 22-acre lake behind our store.
Jax Surf & Paddle – Located in Jacksonville Beach, Jax Surf & Paddle offers private and group stand up paddleboarding classes for adults and kids. During the summer they also offer a paddleboarding camp for kids.
All Wet Sports – Take a one hour lesson on beautiful Big Pottsberg Creek with All Wet Sports. Instructors will start you with safety training and then move on to a paddleboard simulator in
the shop. When you feel comfortable you’ll head out to the water for a tour of the creek.
Paddling Groups & Guides in Jacksonville
Once you’ve caught the paddling bug you might want to join a local group or find out more about all the waterways available to paddlers in Jacksonville. We’ve got a few of our guides and groups to get you going on your aquatic adventure.
Florida Paddling Trails Association – Information on most water trails in the state and details on campsites, launches, sights to see, and facilities along the trails.
Jax Kayak Fishing – Jacksonville Kayak Fishing provides kayak anglers with the information they need to enjoy kayak fishing in the greater Jacksonville, Florida area.
Jax Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide – The guide consists of a map and narrative description of the Intracoastal Waterway and associated waters from the St. Johns River south to the Duval County/St. Johns County line.
Greater Jacksonville Paddling Guide – The Greater Jacksonville Paddling Guide focuses on the stretch of the St. Johns River that passes through downtown Jacksonville, as well as its many creeks and tributaries.