Kayaking Florida’s Mangroves

Version 2
Mangrove Tunnels, Lido Key

I (Stella) am not a humid-hot weather person. But, the need arose to visit Florida the first weekend in June. That being the case, I picked out a kayak adventure that I had located on the internet. The tour company is called Adventure Kayak Outfitters; we chose to do the Sarasota Kayak Tour (there are a few different ones you can select). I have always been afraid of being in/on the ocean, but I decided to overcome my fear and give it a try! The body of water that we were on was the Gulf of Mexico.

Shortly after we had arrived at the designated meeting location, we set off with a group of other people. You can choose either a single or a tandem; we went with a tandem. The kayaks were clean, comfortable and in good repair. Within the first ten minutes, we had a manatee swimming all around and in between our kayaks, and it was quite curious! It kept popping its head up out of the water to look at everyone. And then a few minutes later, we spotted two bottlenose dolphins not too far off in the distance who were hunting/fishing together. That was a great way to kick off the tour! I longed to touch the manatee, but Larry had said that you’re not supposed to touch them.

Great Egret – Version 5
Great Egret

The next part of the tour was kayaking through the mangrove tunnels, which was the biggest thrill for me. The mangroves tunnels are located on southern end of Lido Key.  Dan, our guide, mentioned the mangrove tunnels were built to allow for tidal drainage to naturally take place after a large rainstorm. It was intended to reduce the mosquito population. More importantly, the mangroves form a natural buffer to prevent erosion from the constant battering of waves along the coastline, and they provide an ecologically friendly habitat for several varieties of marine species. Trying to kayak inside of the tunnels can be a bit tricky, because the tunnels are very narrow in some points. But how awesome it was!

In the secluded areas just outside of the tunnel entrance(s), the entire sandy intercoastal floor is covered with pillowy looking upside – down jellyfish, scientifically known as the Cassiopea Jellyfish. You do not want to fall or step out of the kayak because every inch of the of the seafloor is covered with the jellyfish. They are mainly found in shallow water, grass flats and mangrove swamps. They rest upside – down due to the symbiotic relationship with algae living inside of the jellyfish. By resting upside – down, it exposes the algae to the sun, allowing photosynthesis to occur and providing the jellyfish with a constant food source. If you do venture into the water and come in contact with the Cassiopea Jellyfish, you can be rest assured that their sting is not very painful.  

The tour was about two hours in length; however, our kayak guide, Dan, allowed us to venture out on our own for a while once the official tour was finished since he knew we were experienced kayakers. Normally, I would have been very fearful of kayaking on that large of a body of water, but the areas in which we had explored that day felt small and cozy to me. It wasn’t until a few days later when Larry told me that there could have been sharks right where we were kayaking that day. Needless to say, I will likely never do that again, but I sure enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Where: Lido Key, Sarasota, Florida

Overall Experience: Awesome

Price paid: $100

Link to Adventure Kayak Outfitters website: Adventure Kayak Outfitters

Note: This blog receives no payment or other compensation for reviews of products or services. If I/we did not pay full retail price for a product being reviewed, I/we will explicitly state that in the review. Unless explicitly stated, I/we have no affiliation or relationship with the product being reviewed.


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