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We're All Enjoying The Paddle Through The Mangrove Tunnel

Florida Keys Kayaking Near Key West

It appears from comments in my social media networks that many of my readers are less than enthusiastic about kayaking with alligators in Big Cypress National Preserve. (No way, are you kidding, you are so brave, I want a contract that says No Attacking Me and Eating Me – and yet really it was such a great day.)

However, I think everybody I know would love Florida Keys kayaking, especially when it’s an easy half day trip with Key West Eco Tours, and the launch site is just a short drive away from Key West.

John and I were guests for an afternoon outing. It started with a pick-up from our Key West Hotel. Unlike many tour companies that kayak in the Florida Keys, we avoided the waters frequented by noisy seadoos and instead made for the quieter Geiger Key, about eight miles out of town. It’s a super place to discover the natural side of the Florida Keys.

Our starting point - the Keiger Key Paddling Hut - about 7 miles from Key West
Our starting point – the Keiger Key Paddling Hut – about 7 miles from Key West

Keiger Key is the starting point for a kayaking tour

There were four of us in total and a guide. The kayaks were heavy duty plastic affairs – unsinkable and easy to paddle. We carried life jackets, but didn’t have to wear them as the water is warm, shallow and the chance of flipping is very small.

Heading out from the dock at the Geiger Key Marina and Smokehouse, we made for quieter waters – without boats or people, about a 10 minutes away. As we paddled past homes on the water – none fancy, we were shocked to hear of the price tag – in excess of two million. And this in an area that gets hurricanes.

Start the Florida Keys kayaking tour by paddling past homes/boats on Geiger Key
Start the tour by paddling past homes/boats on Geiger Key
For sale - nice views but over two million dollars - Geiger Key
For sale – nice views but over two million dollars
In no time you feel like you have the Florida Keys to yourself
In no time you feel like you have the Florida Keys to yourself

Kayaking through a world filled with nature in the Florida Keys

In no time we were in a world alive with great blue and little blue herons, egrets, pelicans and all manner of small creatures under the sea. Katie, our especially cheery guide, carried a net so she could scoop interesting stuff like jellyfish and sea cucumbers off the muddy bottom.

A highlight for me, but not the poor fish, was watching nature in action. Two crabs snagged a fish and ate him for dinner.

Kayaking quiet channels near Key West
Kayaking quiet channels near Key West
One of the many sea cucumbers we saw
One of the many sea cucumbers we saw
Cassiopeia jellyfish
Cassiopeia jellyfish
Two crabs against a fish - and you can guess who loses
Two crabs against a fish – and you can guess who loses
Yellow crowned night heron - a beautiful bird
The yellow crowned night heron – a beautiful bird

Next up was a paddle across to some islands that lay in an entirely different ecosystem. The sea bottom was sandy so the swimming looked far more appealing.

Florida Keys kayaking often involves a mangrove tunnel 

With the tide dropping, we couldn’t get into some of the islands. Fortunately the mangrove tunnel was still accessible – great fun to paddle, especially the tight turns. It was particularly beautiful with the filtered light. I spotted a well-fed raccoon – one who probably eats like a king with so much seafood at its doorstep.

Florida keys kayaking through a mangrove tunnel
Kayaking Florida Keys with a fun paddle through a mangrove tunnel

On the home stretch we passed a group of trees used as a roost by pelicans. There were 12 hanging out when we were there. Around the next corner we spotted an iguana – exotic in my books but a pest if you live in Key West. In fact, you can hire iguana exterminators!

On the Florida Keys kayaking tour we saw pelicans roosting
Pelicans roosting
Florida Keys kayaking gets you close to lots of seabirds
Florida Keys kayaking gets you close to lots of seabirds

In just over two hours we ended back at our starting point. If we hadn’t been rushed, the smokehouse deck would have been a great place to hang out and enjoy a burger and a cold drink. It’s a great lunch-time destination for anybody visiting the area.

Coming full circle on our Florida Keys Kayaking trip
Coming full circle on our Florida Keys Kayaking outing

It was an easy paddle except for a few windy sections. Perfect for families (there are double kayaks), this is an outing well worth doing if you have a few days in the Florida Keys. It feels pristine and quiet and a world away from the hustle and bustle of Key West.

Further reading on things to do in Florida

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest board.

Kayaking in the Florida Keys near Key West

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. What a great post! I’m going to the Keys for the first time in March to celebrate my dad’s birthday, and am currently putting together a list of things to do…this has made the top! Thanks!!!

  2. Hi Leigh, looks like kayaking is indeed a great way to explore the water of Florida Keys. Amazing how much marine and wildlife you had seen. Great capture of that crabs and fish wrestling! This kayaking experience of your is a huge contrast to my last kayaking outing – in Antartica. Instead of being surrounded by green mangroves, we were surrounded by ice and instead of crabs, fish, sea cucumbers lurking in the water, we had penguins and minke whales. I enjoyed my Antarctic experience but now that we’re in deep freeze here in NY right now, I dream of your Key West outing. Lovely photos as usual.

  3. Looks like a very calming trip, Leigh. Even though you said it, I didn’t expect the water to be so shallow.
    The vegetation is beautiful and lush, and those birds are beautiful. That iguana’s got an eye catching color. I thought they were always green or brown. Too bad about the poor fish. It’s not like I don’t know that this happens but I’m so squeamish, it would’ve stayed on my mind all day.

    1. @Marcia I was very surprised too at the water depth. It was a treat to feel like I was a thousand miles away from civilization. And even though I eat fish, I was feeling very badly about its’ demise.

  4. Those photos are so gorgeous, what a beautiful place. I would love to explore the Florida Keys by Kayak one day. 2 million for that house ??? No way I would ever pay that not even with those views.

    1. @Freya I always enjoying seeing the wilder side of places and kayaking was definitely the way to do it. I was a little shocked at the price of the house – especially since it looked like it needs a lot of work – and it’s in an area that gets hurricanes.

  5. Great article! I’m heading to the florida keys later on in 2020 and I’m really considering taking a similar trip now! thanks:)

  6. Golly, Kayaking in the keys blows my mind. Those Mangroves! I’ve got to make it down there to kayak soon. So much life. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I only hope my website for kayaking in St. Augustine can be half as useful as yours. Great resource. Keep up the great work. A real inspiration.

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