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Latest update: Oct. 2015

Cedar Key... Kayaking on Florida's Nature Coast

Cedar Key, listed on the National Historic Site Register, is often said to be what Key West was 50 years ago - a step back to Old Florida. The island is surrounded by 13 smaller barrier islands in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, offering many kayaking adventures from open Gulf paddling to grass flats. Visit the historic downtown, or enjoy other activities including fishing and boating. The town is also bikeable (link to our bike rides below). The allure of Cedar Key is its out-of-the-way location. Time stands still here - it's one-of-a-kind, laid back and wonderful. (Detailed map and photos below)

paddle Cedar Key, kayak, canoe

Cedar Key Paddling Map
(view public launches)


View Larger Map

Distance: varies, no designated trail
Location: Levy County. 50 miles southwest of Gainesville, 3 hours north of Tampa, and 3 hours west of Jacksonville; from US 19 turn west on SR 24 at Otter Creek
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: G Street beach, Cedar Key Marina; Shell Mound (end of CR 326) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, Shell Mound archaeological site, Cedar Key Historical Museum, Cedar Key Museum State Park

Kayak Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Kayak Cedar Keys  (rentals, tours)

Cedar Key Paddling  (rentals)

Some hotels also have canoes/kayaks available for guests.

Cedar Key... Comments and Photos

The Gulf waters are popular with sea kayakers, paddling to the surrounding keys (Atsena Otie, Snake, Seahorse, North) on open water - here, paddling can be affected by tide and weather. An occasional dolphin will be seen. For less adventurous paddlers the bayous are more protected, but watch the tides to avoid being grounded.


Launches

Launch from City Park beach, boat ramps at the Marina, along G Street, or at the end of the Cedar Key Bridge off SR24. Other launches may be offered by outfitters, or located on private property and not available to the public.


On the Bayous

We enjoy kayaking on the more protected bayous around Cedar Key - exploring their many inlets and coves, landing on sandbars (depending on tides).


Atsena Otie Key

Atsena Otie Key is about a half mile off Cedar Key, and 4 miles if you paddle around it - we kayaked out to the pier, explored some of the key, and back - about 1.5 miles. The site of the first town in the Cedar Keys, a mill here provided wood for Eberhard Faber pencils until leveled by the Hurricane of 1896.


Hog Island

North of Cedar Key, a favorite with sea kayakers is the area around Shell Mound of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. We launched from the Shell Mound boat ramp, to Hog Island.


Old Downtown Cedar Key

Visit the old downtown and its wooden buildings, the Island Hotel (1859, National Register of Historical Buildings) restaurant, bar and lobby, the Cedar Key Historical Museum, and of course the assortment of galleries and gift shops.

 

Also visit us here: Bicycling on Cedar Key

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