Paddleboard Adventures on Florida’s Paradise Coast
By Eric Snider
Standup paddleboarding, or SUP, is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in America. Not surprisingly, Florida’s Paradise Coast of Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades is a SUP hotspot. Our combination of beautiful weather, calm waters, and vast array of places to explore — be it through magical mangrove tunnels or along our amazing beaches — inspires both first-time and experienced paddleboarders to make this fun, relaxing activity part of their visit.
There are countless places to paddleboard on Florida’s Paradise Coast. You can essentially drop in your board wherever there’s a body of water that’s open to the public. Don’t have a board? No worries! We have a wide selection of vendors who will rent you one, as well as give you lessons and take you out on tours.
We’ll begin with a few public places where you can launch a paddleboard, and follow that with a rundown of operators who can provide everything you need to enjoy one of the Paradise Coast’s most exhilarating adventures.
Isle of Capri Paddlecraft Park
Located 15 miles south of downtown Naples, this is the only public-access facility on the Paradise Coast exclusively used for launching paddle crafts. (That means no motorized boats.) The best part is that it’s just a short paddle to Rookery Bay Reserve, a 110,000-acre protected estuary where you’ll find some of the area’s best mangrove tunnels. Isle of Capri Paddlecraft Park features a ramp, picnic pavilions, restrooms and a wash rack for your board. There’s a $4 launch fee. (It’s well worth it.)
Caxambas Boat Park
At the southern end of Marco Island you’ll find Caxambas Boat Park, this four-acre facility that provides public access for paddleboarders. From here, it’s an easy paddle to the Gulf (and the famous Cape Romano Dome House) or the northern end of Ten Thousand Islands, a chain of mangrove islands that provides never-ending (and relaxing) adventure for SUP’ers. You can also opt for a shorter route through winding channels in and around Caxambas and Barfield bays. You’ll pay a small launch fee at The Ship Store, located on the property. There’s plenty of parking, and it’s free.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
This mile-long, 166-acre barrier island on the north end of the Paradise Coast, 12 miles from downtown Naples, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park provides easy access to a few remarkable waterways — for short, medium or long trips. From the inland boat ramp, paddlers have immediate access to placid Turkey Bay, as well as the Cocohatchee River and surrounding backwaters. Work your way north and then west to the Gulf, where you can cruise by one of the most pristine beaches you’ll ever encounter.
Clam Pass Park
Six miles north of downtown Naples, Clam Pass Park is a 35-acre reserve that provides convenient access via a small launch ramp adjacent to a large parking lot. You can paddle the flat, open water of Outer Clam Pass Bay (ideal for beginners) and through neighborhood canals. If you’re feeling really adventurous, continue north and then west through Clam Pass, which takes you out into the Gulf and along Vanderbilt Beach.
Outfitters and Tours
Naples Kayak Company
Located on US-41, three miles east of downtown Naples, Naples Kayak Company will arrange for a guide to meet you at a predetermined location to embark on a tour. The launch points vary according to weather and the skill level of the paddlers. One of the most popular and easy routes is along the Gordon River (good for newbies); other popular tours are in Rookery Bay Reserve and Isle of Capri. Naples Kayak also rents a variety of boards, which can be picked up or delivered.
Gnarly Harley Adventures
This SUP-only operator (no kayaks or canoes) earned a 2021 Travelers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor and serves all of Southwest Florida with an enthusiastic, knowledgeable team of guides and instructors determined to deliver under-the-sun fun. A Gnarly Harley tour is tailored to group or individual wants, and includes an introductory lesson and all necessary gear (plus cold bottled water). The team provides two- and four-hour group tours, as well as two- and four-hour singles tours with private lessons. Their Sunset Paddle is an unforgettable way to watch the sun go down.
Everglades Adventure Tours
Ancient natives got around the Everglades on flat pole boats, a type of transportation still used today. You could almost think of the standup paddleboard as the modern iteration of the pole boat. Everglades Adventures offers eco-tours for up to four people along the Turner River Trail, hailed as the best paddling course in the Everglades because it wends through cypress swamps, mangroves and sawgrass ecosystems. The company recommends that you have some SUP experience.
La Vita e’ Bella Paddleboard & Kayak Tours
The name translates to “Life Is Beautiful,” and La Vita e’ Bella aims to make it so. This operator is based in Marco Island but launches its paddleboard tours from the Isle of Capri Paddlecraft Park. They offer a wonderful Mangrove Tunnels EcoTour, as well as SUP lessons and rentals, and are happy to design a custom excursion for your group.
Florida’s Paradise Coast has several stores and vendors that rent paddleboards, and most will deliver them to where you’re staying or to a specified location. Here’s a list: