The public canoe/kayak launch at Weedon Island is stunning. You'll find it next to the preserve’s long fishing pier at the end of Weedon Drive Northeast.
There is a public restroom next to the fishing pier.
You want to plan about three hours to complete the marked paddle trail and check the daily tide charts beforehand so as not get stuck in low tide.
I'm not a fan at all of paddling through narrow mangrove tunnels and avoid them. I like my kayak and my paddle to run free. There are lots of open areas to paddle here. Paddlers report that the marked trail will take you through some tight spots through mangrove tunnels into larger lagoons. I suppose some people enjoy the shade the tunnels provide from the sun during the hot summer months. If you're claustrophobic, you may want to plan your own navigation trail to stay in the open areas.
The paddling trails in Weedon Island Preserve are tide dependent
You'll need to know the tide charts for the area or ask advice from a knowledgeable outfitter like Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg, Florida about the best times to paddle.
When we were in Florida in early January, the tides were particularly low in the mangrove trails and lagoons. Sweetwater Kayaks mentioned negative tides, so we scouted the preserve on foot.
|Low tide paddle trails|
Sweetwater Kayaks has a small kayak rental concession down the road from the canoe/kayak launch on Weedon Island with a basic selection of rec kayaks.
Sweetwater Kayaks store nearby on 10000 Gandy Blvd., if you want to rent a kayak or paddleboard, or to arrange for rental of a more performant kayak (some of us are picky and don't take to rec kayaks), or to purchase your own kayak.
Sweetwater Kayaks Rentals page also lists and links to local weather reports and tide charts for the Weedon Island area. There are other places to rent kayaks in southern Florida, but Sweetwater is the only outfitter with a concession on Weedon Island. They also help conservation efforts by organizing volunteers for clean up of the preserve.
The cost of kayak rentals and paddleboard rentals adds up quickly over a few days, and are expensive in southern Florida as well in most places we travel. This is often why we rent bikes for the day instead of kayaks. This is also why we bought our own kayaks and gear back home in Canada, but we can't transport it all unless we do a road trip. Lucky for you if you've got your own awesome gear along with you.
|lagoon at low tide|
Weedon Island is on my list of places to go back and explore more of the land trails and the paddle trails during high tide and warmer temperatures! Florida waters are cold in the winter. During our January visit water temps were 58F in the Gulf of Mexico and in the low 60sF in Tampa Bay. Something to remember even if the air temperatures are in the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit. I did jump into the Gulf for a swim without a wetsuit one day. I jumped right out one minute later.
For more information about paddling the preserve visit:
Weedon Island Preserve, paddling launch information, Pinellas County
Make note: Visiting the preserve is free. No fees. Dogs are not allowed. Cycling the preserve land trails is not allowed. You'll have to hike it or paddle it.
You can also find lots of reviews of Weedon Island Preserve on Trip Advisor.
The canoe/kayak launch and the adjacent pier at Weedon Island Preserve are fabulous places to enjoy the sunset.
If the mangrove trails are lacking water during low tides, there is always plenty of open water in the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay,