Top 5 Paddleboard Trips in Orlando
By: Trey Dyer
Sometimes we're spoiled for choice about where to paddleboard in Orlando on any given day. The hundreds of lakes provide endless opportunities to explore new waters, and the rivers in Central Florida offer a glimpse into what Florida was like before human development. There is no better way to see these waters than atop a paddleboard in Orlando. For that reason, we decided to highlight our five favorite paddleboard routes in Orlando.
5. Butler Chain Of Lakes
The Butler Chain of Lakes provides one of the most unique and fun days you can have paddleboarding in Orlando, all within close proximity of the theme parks and International Drive.
Our favorite route on the Butler Chain starts by launching the standup paddleboard from R.D. Keene Park on Lake Palmer. Long man-made canals connect the Butler Chain of Lakes, making it easy to jump from lake to lake. From Lake Palmer, continue through the canal on the north shore into Lake Louise. Along the way, be sure to watch for celebrities; professional athletes such as Shaq and Tiger Woods have houses on the Butler Chain. Continue to the west corner of Lake Louise and through the canal leading to Lake Butler. Head out to the right (northeast) once you reach Lake Butler and head to the locals’ favorite hangout, Bird Island, the perfect place to post up and take a nice dip or crack a cold one on a sunny Florida day. This route, plus the return paddle back to the boat ramp, gives you a nice half-day paddleboard trip, right in the backyard of Orlando-visitor hot spots
4. Lake Ivanhoe
Less than five minutes from downtown, Lake Ivanhoe has served as Get Local’s home waters for everything from wakeboarding to fishing, and now paddleboarding. Lake Ivanhoe is made up of four lakes that together form the entirety of the lake. It is also where we run our most popular offering, the Sunset Paddleboard Tour.
Start at the paddleboard dock (yes there is a paddleboard specialty dock, complete with stabilizing handrails and a launch specifically made for paddleboards) and take off into the first lake. Continue west, underneath the I-4 bridge and into the second lake. This area is characterized by large lily-pad beds and shoreline structure; it can be a great area for paddleboard fishing. Continue west into the third lake and take a minute in the middleto jump in and enjoy the water (which is usually crystal clear, depending on the time of the year). Continue further under the tiny bridge on the west shore (you may have to literally duck while you paddle to get under it) into Little Lake Ivanhoe to finish off the front end of your trip. On the way back under the tiny bridge, see if you can spot the Furbie (we’ll give you a hint, look right!).
3. Winter Park Chain of Lakes
Known as the “Venice of the South,” the Winter Park Chain of Lakes offers one of the most scenic and historic places to paddleboard in all of Florida. Connected by lakes that once served as log-shipping routes, the Winter Park Chain of Lakes provides a fantastic venue for an epic paddleboard tour.
Start at Dinky Dock on Lake Virginia, just around the corner from Winter Park’s famous Park Avenue. Head west and take in the sights of Rollins College before heading back east to make your way through the canal leading to Lake Osceola. Paddle to the north corner and continue through the canal into Lake Maitland. Head north in Lake Maitland to get to Dog Island, a favorite hangout for boaters and paddleboarders. While you’re there, look for comedian Carrot Top’s house before heading home (it’s the big orange one, not even kidding).
2. Wekiva River: Wekiva Island to Wekiwa Springs
Probably the most enjoyable trip we run – Wekiva Island to Wekiwa Springs –is our second favorite paddleboard route in Orlando. Surrounded by nature, flowing down crystal-clear spring-fed waters of the Wekiva River (the water temperature is 72 degrees year round) ; this trip is about as pleasant a paddle as you can have.
Start at Wekiva Island, a locals’ hangout complete with a waterside bar, cabanas, and beach volleyball court and head upstream towards the springs. Along this two-mile stretch of river, you can expect great wildlife viewing opportunities such as turtles, alligators, birds, otters and more. Once you have reached the springs, park your board along the shoreline and take a dive into the swimming area. For those of you who brought snorkeling gear, take a look into the underwater cavern where the spring water originates. Once you have finished up your swim, the two-mile trip back to Wekiva Island is a quick and easy flow with the current.
1. Wekiva River: Rock Springs Run
The Rock Springs Run from Kings Landing (near Kelly Park) down to Wekiva Island is our favorite paddleboard trip in all of Central Florida. This 8.5 mile, five hour challenging trip is not for the faint of heart, or those who can’t get a little dirty, but provides the ultimate Florida nature paddleboard run. Rock Springs Run allows you to experience the upper reaches if the Wekiva River, appreciating the different areas with different characteristics of each stretch.
Start at Kings Landing, an awesome camp, bait shop and adventure-starting spot and head out to the river. Be sure to stop at the mouth of the river at the sand bar and take a turn on the Kings Landing rope swing. Follow the current and enjoy the paddle down the river. There are not words that can describe the beauty and remoteness you experience on this trip. Truly an experience that can’t be missed on a paddleboard. End your run at Wekiva Island with a beer at the bar before you hop on the shuttle back to Kings Landing to end your day.