Where To Kayak In Florida Without Alligators

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 10, 2022
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Some of the best places to kayak in Florida without alligators are the Santa Fe River, Weeki Wachee Spring, Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, Silver River, Rainbow River, Manatee River, Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • The Santa Fe River is a tributary of the Suwannee River and is approximately 78 miles (126 kilometers) long and has a watershed of approximately 1,380 square miles
  • Weeki Wachee Spring is a natural spring located in Weeki Wachee, Florida and it is a popular destination for swimming, kayaking, and other water activities
  • Suwannee River Wilderness Trail is 246 miles long and it offers scenic views of the river and the surrounding wilderness, as well as opportunities for camping, fishing, etc.
  • The Silver River is known for its crystal clear waters, abundant wildlife, and natural beauty

1. Santa Fe River

The Santa Fe River is 78 miles long, and the paddle trailer starts from swamps in north Florida to O’leno state park, where it disappears underground and appears in River state park, three miles away. Kayaking in this river may be challenging since the water can get relatively low. You should, therefore, do your research and know when the water levels are high enough to enable you to paddle comfortably. The river has an underground cave system filled with water, up to 180 feet below the surface.

2. Weeki Wachee Spring

These springs are found in the Weeki  Wachee state park in west-central Florida, and the water is turquoise. Cypress trees are on the shores of the river, several miles. If this is not a sight to behold, tell me what is. If you love bonding with nature and just admiring God’s creation, this is one place you could go to. This water is perfect for kayaking, as the temperature is 72 degrees all year round, and it is clear. It is also great for all levels of kayakers. The current is steady, and you could paddle for three hours and at a good pace or relax and enjoy the scenery. The river ends at Rodgers Park near the Gulf of Mexico. It is advised that you take a shuttle back to the starting point; however, you know how much you can handle so you can paddle back if you can.

3. Suwannee River Wilderness Trail

This river is 246 miles long, located in northwest Florida, and stretches to Mexico. According to some people, the Suwannee River is Florida’s best as it accommodates any skill level of paddler. It is slow-moving and has sandbars along for stops when you need a rest. It offers facilities as well with accommodation available even overnight. You could also camp along the river if you want to stay near the water as there are river camps. That sounds like a fun activity, kayaking in the evening and then camping at night with your friends. Before going kayaking, however, you should check with the local outfitters for water conditions. The water levels fluctuate a lot, and you need to be sure that it is neither too high nor too low for you to handle.

4. Silver River

It is located in the Silver river springs state park in Ocala. Kayakers can start at the fort king waterway that connects to the Silver Spring River. From here, countless springs pour into the river, making the water current faster. You could get traffic from glass-bottom boats with tourists. If you need to hire a kayak, you could get one here, but only if you come early. 

5. Rainbow River

The main attraction of the Rainbow River is the extremely clear water, which will enable you to see even fish swimming below your kayak. You will also come across many birds. The water temperature is constantly 72 degrees throughout the year, perfect for kayaking and swimming when allowed. Kayaking season runs from fall to spring so it won’t be as congested as kayaking in the summer.

6. Manatee River

The main feature of the Manager River is the 9-mile paddle trail. The Manatee River runs along the gulf coast of Florida, and it includes expansive waterways of 46 miles. The paddling track has sand bars where you can stop and rest or even picnic if you feel like it. The water flows freely. However, you might run into some obstacles. The smooth flow allows you to admire the scenery. You may come across turtles, and herons and may see an alligator or two. Paddling upstream may be difficult, but you can manage if you want a challenge. 

7. Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail

This is one of the safest places to kayak. This inshore saltwater trail spans 150 miles of the Gulf Coast of Florida. It features islands, creeps, shallow rivers, and small towns. The animals to see include bald eagles, pelicans, fish, and sea turtles that you can see swimming below your boat. It is best for the sea kayaker looking to get up close and personal with the wildlife of Florida. 

Alligator Behavior 

If you are planning to kayak in water infested with alligators or you fear you might come across an alligator, you should know the typical behavior. This will also help you understand how to react when you encounter one. 

Contrary to what we have been made to believe, alligators are not aggressive animals. When they see a kayak approaching, their first instinct is to hide underwater rather than attack. That is why although there have been kayak attacks by alligators, they have not been many. Their hearing is sensitive, so they will know of your presence before you even see them. They will hide near the edge where there are bushes that they can use as cover, so you may not even see them. 

An alligator may be timid of kayakers, but they can be aggressive in specific periods. A female alligator with a nest will be bold to protect her eggs. During the mating season, alligators can also be aggressive because it is warmer and their metabolism is high, making them hungry and desperately searching for food. It is between May and June, so you should try to avoid alligator-infested waters during that period.

Tips For Kayaking In Alligator-Inhabiting Waters 

Tips For Kayaking In Alligator Inhabiting Waters 

When you kayak through alligator-infested waters, you should know what to do when you encounter one. You should take the following precautions in case of an encounter:

1. Do Not Bring Your Dog

If you plan on kayaking in alligator-infested waters, you should ensure not to bring your dog. Alligators are attracted to small animals and may see them as prey. This will put you and your dog in more danger.

2. Keep Distance 

You should try to keep a distance of at least 30 feet if you can. It would help if you kept as much distance between you and the alligator as possible. Alligators can swim as fast as 20mph with the help of their tails and webbed feet. They can also move quickly on land.

3. Make Noise

If anyone alligator gets too close, you should make loud noises to scare it away. This will give you time to kayak out of the area into safety.

4. Do Not Corner An alligator 

When an alligator sees you, the first thing it will want to do is get away to safety. But when you get in the way of the alligator and its safety, it’s not a good sign as it will probably attack your kayak because it will feel cornered. 

5. Understand Alligator Warning Signs

If you get too close to the alligator, it may give warning signs that should make you move away. The alligator can hiss or bellow. It would be best to move away immediately upon hearing any of these sounds. 


When kayaking, your safety is of utmost importance. It would help to kayak in water without alligators or understand their behavior well before going in alligator-infested waters. They will probably hide when they see you, but you also should take precautions.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_River_(Florida)
  • https://weekiwachee.com/
  • https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/suwannee-river-wilderness-state-trail
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_River_(Florida)

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