By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – In addition to being on the coast, there is an abundance of rivers, lakes and canals to use for Kayaking in Miami-Dade County. At Biscayne National Park, there are rentals available without reservation Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own kayak.
Biscayne National Park is 95 percent water and home to six canoe and kayak trails. The Visitor Center offers guided tours. The Mowry Canal Paddle is a two-mile trek that is recommended for beginners. For more advanced kayakers, the Elliot Key Paddle is a 17 miles round trip and travels east through Biscayne Bay to reach Elliot Key.
Located at the northern part of the Biscayne Bay is Oleta River State Park, the largest urban park in Florida. The park boasts over a thousand acres of mangrove forests that host Florida wildlife and vegetation. The calm waters of the North Biscayne Bay and Intercoastal Waterway features manatees, dolphins, egrets, herons and other water birds.
If kayaking on a river, the American Canoe Association advises, “Stay on the inside of bends – Beware of strainers! Strainers are fallen trees; bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly.”
In the unfortunate event of capsizing, hold on to your paddle and get to the side of the boat. If in moving water, float on your back to lessen the impact if there are rocks or other obstacles.
The American Canoe Association also recommends using a “float plan.” Float plans detail your anticipated route, names and contact information of all parties involved, arrival time and when to alert the authorities. Also, always bring enough food and equipment necessary for survival. This includes water, maps, food, extra clothes and more. Avoid going solo and try to paddle with company.
Kayaking is a low impact activity with reduced wear-and-tear on joints and tissues with lots of health benefits, according to The Kayaker Guide. It integrates aerobic fitness, improves cardiovascular fitness and increases muscle strength through paddle usage. Turning the kayak uses core muscles.
In addition to kayaking, other fun, physical activities can be incorporated into an outing. Fishing, snorkeling and hiking are all options depending on the trail. Kayaking is an exciting activity to get outside, soak in some Vitamin D and enjoy some of the best of what Florida has to offer.