This trip is better for kayaks and low tide if you want to do the whole trip. During high tide, only half of it will be open. The map starts across the highway, but you can begin this trip at PADDLE! the Florida Keys in Tavernier. The wildlife there is usually good, and by staying along the edge, you can avoid the short section which has boat traffic. If you have extra time, add on the first cove on your right, otherwise head straight for the second cove to get to the good stuff. Even the high tide halfway trip is good, but at low tide, you can get a kayak all the way back to the secret lagoon. At one point, you will need to break your kayak paddle down and use it like a canoe paddle since the mangroves are so low overhead. Toward the end, give up the paddle and pull yourself along by the mangrove roots. Your diligence will be greatly rewarded when you reach the two lagoons. The first one is not very big, but after pulling through, it will feel rather roomy. But the second one is the real deal. That’s all I’ll say to keep from spoiling the effect, but it’s not to be missed. From Tavernier Creek, you can also access Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
This is one of our two main race loops, leaving and returning from the PADDLE! the Florida Keys Tavernier location and circling around the island. It can be done on a nice day, but due to the open water, please check with the shop personnel to get the latest update on conditions. There are always a lot of fish and wildlife hanging around the island. If you’re heading that way, consider renting a mask and snorkel so you can discover a couple of interesting places where the fish, stingrays, and baby sharks love to hang out.
A 4.5 mile loop recommended for mid to high tide. Also known locally as “the race course,” this loop is for more adventurous paddlers. It can be done in either direction, so use the wind as your guide; if the wind is from the east then go clockwise to keep the wind at your back while doing the ocean leg. On a paddleboard or kayak, this can give you some good downwind waves to enjoy.
This route is good for medium to high tide. There are lots of interesting mangrove creeks and mazes to get turned around in. Don’t miss the opportunity to see dolphins at Dolphins Plus and Island Dolphin Care. A truly magical place to paddleboard or kayak in Key Largo.
From Dove Creek out to Snappers restaurant and back, this is one of my favorite places to paddle on either a kayak or paddleboard. Start out at the end of Caribbean Lane. You will be right at the junction of Dove Creek and Dove Sound. Explore the sound if the wind permits, as there’s lots to see. We usually spot sting rays, and have seen sea turtles as well as baby nurse sharks (no, they won’t bite you, nurse sharks have very small mouths and small teeth). After exploring the sound, head down stream through the creek. There are numerous side trails which are all just part of the main creek. Stay to the left in all of them on a paddleboard but feel free to poke around them on a kayak.
This 7-mile loop can be quite a task. While not for the faint of heart, you will be rewarded with the best of the best. Winds, tidal currents, motor boat traffic, and the elements all play a major role in this route, but it is also a very rewarding place to kayak or paddleboard. Discover Cowpens Cut, come back through the infamous “Toilet Seat Pass” and return to the shop on Tavernier Creek all in the course of a day. Sometimes we use this loop for our elite race course.