Best Paddles Series: Mangrove Tunnel Paddle Tour, Sarasota, Florida
If you love kayaking and stand up paddleboard, Southwest Florida is a great place to be. There are so many amazing paddles and they are all a bit different. This review of the Mangrove Tunnel tour is the first in a series. Stay tuned for more posts about great paddles in this area.
- Mangrove Tunnel Tour at Ted Sperling Park
This is the most popular tour in Sarasota and for good reason. The launch is small but once you leave the launch the open expanse of Sarasota Bay greets you. If you paddle to the left, you can paddle alongside the mansions of Lido Key and often see manatees and dolphins in the canals. If you decide to paddle to the right, the mangrove tunnel trails are yours to explore. The unique tunnels are cut thru the mangroves offering the perfect trail for kayaks and paddleboards. You can easily paddle the whole area in two hours but if you give yourself some extra time, you can really take it all in.
Address: 190 Taft Drive Sarasota, Florida
Motorized Boat Traffic: Very Low (none through the mangrove tunnels)
Crowds: Medium/High (especially on weekends and during holidays). If you are looking to avoid crowds, weekdays and late afternoons are usually better.
Amenities for Personal Watercraft: Loading zone, limited trailer parking, and wash station. Free to launch personal watercraft.
Are Rentals Available? Yes. You can rent equipment here and explore the area on your own. Single kayaks, double kayaks and paddleboards are available.
Are Guided Tours Available? Yes. You can sign up for guided tours on single kayaks, double kayaks and stand up paddleboards. Tours are held daily at 9:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:30pm. You can book tour by clicking here.
Is fishing and swimming allowed? Yes, to both.
Are pets allowed? Only service animals are allowed. A park ranger is on staff daily and monitors this.
Is there a good chance to see wildlife? Yes, in the spring-early winter, you can often see manatees. Year-round you may encounter dolphins, interesting birds and lots of fish and invertebrates.
Although there is a good chance to see manatees and dolphins, it is imperative that all paddlers follow safe marine mammal viewing guidelines and keep their distance from manatees and dolphins. Sometimes manatees will swim up to a kayak or paddleboard. If this happens, paddlers should stop paddling and just quietly observe them until they pass on their own.
Looking for a new place to paddle? Check out some of the other paddles in this series (coming soon.)