Best Places to Kayak on Lido Key

The beautiful island of Lido Key has a long history as being one of the most desirable vacation spots in Florida. With miles and miles of bright blue ocean mixed with a uniquely luxurious, cosmopolitan lifestyle, it’s easy to see why. While Lido Key is famous for its long, lazy days on the idyllic beach followed by exciting evenings sipping on cocktails, the island has plenty of other activities on offer.

If you like to kayak, Lido Key is one of the best places to visit. The varied shoreline around the island has drawn kayaking enthusiasts for years, making it one of the top activities in Lido Key. With magical trees that slope over the water and a wide range of fascinating wildlife, you will love spending an afternoon drifting through Lido Key’s famous ocean water on one of these fun and simple lightweight boats. After a day on the water, head back to your vacation rental in St. Armands Circle or Lido Key for a relaxing evening.

Here are some expert tips on where to kayak, which tours to try, and where to rent your boats.

The Best Kayaking Locations on Lido Key

Lido Key’s gorgeous shoreline is ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding. Here are a few details on the best areas on the island for a peaceful paddle.

Lido Key Mangrove Tunnels

Lido Key’s world-famous Mangrove Tunnels provide some of the best kayaking in the world. The exotic mangrove forest slopes gracefully over the water, creating a natural network of tunnels. This trip promises to be peaceful and serene with only the soft sound of birdsong and the gentle lapping of the water hitting the shore.

Some of the waterways were originally man-made ditches, dug as a mechanism for avoiding mosquitoes. Water filled up the ditches creating the magical network of mangrove tunnels you see today. Eventually, these waterways lead to more open water by Otter Key, where you’ll get some gorgeous views of the ocean. 

There are lots of opportunities for spotting some fascinating and unusual wildlife in the mangrove tunnels. Unlike the wildlife spotting cruises, in a kayak, you’ll be able to see some creatures up close. Keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose dolphins and manatees in particular.

Ted Sperling Park

The mangrove tunnels are actually a part of Ted Sperling Park, but the famous nature reserve has some other spots that are great for kayaking. If you have your own boats, you are welcome to use the park’s kayak launch free of charge. You can also rent boats and take them out without a guide if you prefer. 

The combination of otherworldly mangroves trees and calm, open bays make Ted Sperling Park an ideal place for beginners and experienced kayakers alike.

With all kinds of exciting plant life and wildlife to see, you and the family will be entertained for hours.

Other Places to Kayak Near Sarasota

There are plenty of other excellent kayaking spots near Sarasota if you’re interested in trying something a little different. 

Oscar Scherer State Park

The picturesque South Creek that runs through Oscar Scherer State Park is a lovely, quiet spot to go for a paddle. The park has two launching spots and has a few boats available for rent. Every Wednesday morning, there is a 90-minute tour led by local rangers and volunteers. 

Robinson Preserve

Situated in northwest Bradenton, this expansion county park has more than 600 acres of breathtaking salt marsh and lowlands. You’ll need to bring your own kayak to this preserve, so be sure to come prepared. If you are up for a longer trip of 4 or 5 hours, this location will be perfect for you. 

Emerson Point Preserve

Emerson Point Preserve is found on Snead Island in Palmetto. Launching your kayak from this park, you’ll start off on a stunning mangrove running towards Terra Ceia Bay. For experienced kayakers, another launch point leads straight to Tampa Bay and a fantastic view of the famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge. We recommend this location if you’re looking for something a little less crowded that Robinson Preserve.

Plan Your Visit

While you’re on vacation, you deserve total peace and quiet. That’s why our large, upscale villas are custom built for private occupation, unlike the island’s busy hotels. You will love having your own home away from home, complete with a range of luxurious, modern amenities and your own private pool.

Man in kayak on the ocean

Where to Rent A Kayak

There are a few excellent Lido Key kayak rentals available. Companies like I Kayak Sarasota, Sea Life Kayak Rentals and Kayak Tours, and Adventure Kayak Outfitters Tours & Rentals offer rental boats and tours in specific areas. Other companies will rent out boats for a day or two, so you can take the boats to whichever launching spot you like. 

Our Favorite Kayaking Tours on Lido Key

There are tons of kayak tours available in and around Lido Key. Here are a few tours with great reputations and some of the best locations.

I Kayak Sarasota

I Kayak Sarasota offers a 2-hour guided tour through the stunning Sarasota Bay. This tour takes you through the famous mangrove tunnels as well as some more open waters. This tour is one of the oldest in the area. With an excellent, experienced guide, this tour is suitable for kayakers of all levels.

Adventure Kayak Outfitters

This tour starts in the mangrove tunnels of Lido Key and leaves twice a day. This tour is great for families and is one of the best options for families as you’ll choose between single or tandem seats.

Bay and Gulf Adventures

Bay and Gulf Adventures otter a range of tours in the area, one of which leaves from Sarasota Bay. Again, this tour goes through the mangrove tunnels and focuses on the shoreline plant life. You’ll eventually reach the open waters of Sarasota Bay where you may spot a few dolphins and manatees. 

What to Do After An Afternoon On The Water

While kayaking around the peaceful shores of Lido Key is a relaxing activity, you and your family may feel a little tired after a full afternoon on the water. After your tour, head to the nearby St. Armands Circle in downtown Sarasota to find a bite to eat. Or just wander through the various shops in Sarasota’s famous European-style downtown marketplace before heading back home for a quiet night in.

Rent with Lido Key Vacations

Forgo the stressful and difficult hunt for your perfect vacation home by opting to use our exclusive boutique rental service. Jen, our experienced property manager, will work with you directly to find the ideal spot for your needs. We have access to a wide range of the most luxurious Lido Key beach rentals, so you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Our Lido Key vacation rentals are located in a premier location in relation to downtown Sarasota. You will be situated conveniently near Downtown Sarasota, while still getting the tranquil island atmosphere. Lido Key has a similar entertainment district to Siesta Key but without the hectic party scene. Staying in Lido Key will give you the best of both Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island.