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Although every other activity in Orlando gets overlooked, it isn’t just a holiday destination for Disney lovers.
Orlando is home to some amazing waterways with ideal paddling conditions, and Florida as a whole has the most springs out of all the American states.
As springs produce some of the cleanest water in the world, you bet that paddling in them is nothing short of amazing. Picture this crystal clear water that is surrounded by lush green trees, with the odd manatee popping up to say hello. Sounds incredible, right?
If you’re after a relaxing and breathtaking escape, Orlando should definitely be on your list. We have a comprehensive list of where to paddle board in Orlando, so grab your SUP and get going!
Table of Contents
Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest is a wide-open slow flowing run that is ideal for paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes. You can launch your SUP from the easy-to-access launch ramp in the recreation area and make use of the restrooms, picnic areas, and camping spots.
As with many places in Orlando, the springs are home to a diverse range of wildlife species, from otters and turtles to bears and the Florida famous alligator.
If you’re just visiting Orlando and didn’t bring your own paddle board, you can rent one at the on-site concession stand.
If you’re on the lookout for manatees, then the Blue Springs State Park is the place to be. These incredible animals, also known as sea cows, are completely harmless, and paddling right up next to them is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
The “colder” months in Orlando are the best time to head to the springs to see manatees. When the seas become colder during these months, the enormous animals chase warmer waters, and the springs provide just that.
For a fun experience, we highly recommend taking some snorkel gearand getting into the water with the manatees. Remember, they’re harmless, but with all animals in the wild, it’s best to give them their space and look from afar.
Slightly further out from Downtown Orlando is the DeLeon Springs State Park. Waters at DeLeon are extremely calm, making them the perfect location for beginner paddlers or children.
DeLeon has provided drinking water for its local people for thousands of years and pours out 19 million gallons of water every day. For the clearest waters, head directly to the spring. Once you paddle further away from the spring head, the waters darken due to the vegetation below.
Bird watching is one of the popular outdoor activities people flock to DeLeon for. Surrounding the waters at the springs, you can see over 125 bird species, and if you’re exceptionally lucky, you may catch glimpses of eagles.
Even more wildlife can be seen in the waters, and you may be joined by manatees and alligators, depending on the season.
Experienced paddlers can head on over to Juniper Springs and put their skills to the test on the technical waters that the spring provides.
You can launch your SUP at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area and paddle the 7-mile trail to the Juniper Wayside Park.
The first stretch of the trail has crystal clear waters that are fairly swift-moving. Once you paddle down to the middle section of the run, you should be prepared for some rapids. The waters are wider and deeper in this part, and you may have to work your way around some obstacles.
Finally, once you reach the end of the run, you’ll paddle out into wetlands before ending the trail at Wayside Park. The end of the run gives you an excellent chance of seeing birds, alligators, and other wildlife species that frequent the wetland waters.
The Econlockhatchee River, or Econ River for short, has a nineteen mile stretch of designated paddling waters. Water in the Econ is classed as blackwater and gets extremely murky at times. What paddlers come to the Econ River for, though, is the surrounding wilderness.
As the Econ River is one of the last unspoiled rivers in Central Florida, it is home to a tremendous amount of wildlife and plant life. Eagles, cranes, alligators, and turkeys are regularly spotted along the river, so it’s best to grab your binoculars and camera to capture these animals in their natural setting.
Don’t let the name put you off. Mosquito control units regularly spray the area to eliminate the mosquito populations around the water.
You can have the most amazing experience at Mosquito Lagoon, but it will require you to paddle at night. During the summer months, dinoflagellates light up when the water is disturbed. Every time you glide your paddle through the water, the bioluminescent organisms will glow blue, giving you a private underwater light show.
Paddling at Mosquito Lagoon shouldn’t only be reserved for the night, however. The Lagoon is home to populations of manatees, alligators, and bottlenose dolphins that are best seen during the daytime hours. No matter what time you paddle at Mosquito Lagoon, you’ll have a truly wonderful experience, just maybe top up on the bug spray.
The Rainbow River is home to some of the clearest waters in Orlando, making it a must-stop paddle boarding destination. Waters at the Rainbow River are so clear in fact that it was designated an Outstanding Florida Waterway and named a Registered National Landmark.
You can find numerous launch points along the river, some are within a short walking distance, and some require a slightly longer walk. It’s recommended to take an inflatable paddle board to save yourself the hassle of lugging a heavy SUP from A to B.
For even more crystal clear waters, head over to Rock Springs, which offers up beautiful green surroundings and amazing paddling conditions. Swimming, tubing, and paddling are incredibly popular at the springs due to the clarity of the water and the diverse range of wildlife.
You can launch your paddle board at King's Landing and paddle all the way down to the Wekiva River. Occasional obstacles may present a challenge, but for the most part, you should be able to navigate the waters fairly easily.
Silver Springs State Park is well-known for its glass-bottom boat tours, so that should give you some indication of how clear the water is.
Paddle board rentals are available at the park, or you can take your own and head out on another of Orlando’s natural landmarks. The main spring in the park is the most popular area due to the scenic gardens and historical structures that surround it.
The Silver Springs State Park is home to the largest natural artesian spring in the world as it pumps out 550 million gallons of water per day. While paddling, you can see the usual Floridian wildlife of alligators, otters, and birds, but don’t be surprised if you happen to see a monkey from time to time.
The Wekiwa Springs State Park has crystal clear emerald springs just minutes away from downtown Orlando. Not only can you paddle along the beautiful waters that the springs offer, but you can also go horseback riding, biking, or walking along the park's many trails.
Tubers, swimmers, and paddlers flock to the waters come summertime for a much-needed cooldown and escape into nature.
The Winter Park Chain of Lakes has six lakes in total - Virginia, Nina, Mizell, Osceola Maitland, and Minnehaha.
One of the prettier lakes is Lake Mizell, with beautiful plant life surrounding the waters. SUP anglers can fish for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and spotted bass throughout the waters, so make sure you pack your fishing gear before heading out.
Regardless of which lake you choose to paddle on, the waters are incredibly calm and the perfect paddle board training ground for newbie paddlers. If you’re new to the sport of stand up paddle boarding, check out our How to Paddle Board: Beginners Guide to SUP.
Orlando has some incredible places to stand up paddle boards, thanks to its abundant fresh water springs. Here are 10 of the top places to go paddle boarding in Orlando, FL.
Florida doesn’t have a boating license requirement meaning you can paddle almost anywhere throughout the state.
Of course, you need to be cautious of the wildlife, and some areas only allow you to paddle between certain times. Before you head out paddling anywhere, it’s best to do a quick google search for the area and find out if it's acceptable and safe to paddle there.
Juniper Springs is a fantastic place to paddle board if you’re an experienced paddler looking for a challenge.
The springs have it all, from flat wetland waters to fast-moving rapids equipped with challenging obstacles to maneuver around.
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