Is it safe to Kayak with Alligators

It makes total sense that our customers would be afraid of these normally docile animals. They have teeth, they are mean-looking, and they look very similar to the well-known saltwater crocodiles in Australia and Africa. This article isn’t designed to convince you to kayak with alligators, although we would love to take you out. It is designed more to educate the general public if they plan to kayak with alligators. If you are interested in one of our kayak tours please don’t hesitate to book one today!

When comparing the American alligator to the Nile Crocodile, the most important difference is what they eat. We have all seen those crazy videos of wildebeest crossing the crocodile-infested rivers in Africa. With that said, Nile Crocodiles regularly eat animals that are twice as large as a full-grown adult human. Now, let’s consider what the American Aligator eats. Typically, an adult alligator will prey on fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds. Ok, you might notice the word small mammal. The most abundant small mammal that an alligator eats in our location would be a raccoon, not a zebra.

So what is my point?

  • My point is an alligator does not see a human as a food source, with one critical and super frustrating exception, and that is if an alligator is being fed by humans. If this starts to happen, then the answer is yes, alligators can be dangerous to kayakers. This is why it is so important not to ever feed an alligator!

Who feeds a wild Alligator? The most common instance in our area is a fisherman. Fisherman will often clean their catch of the day at the local boat ramp, then throw the waste in the water. If an alligator starts to associate people with a meal, then at that point, they can become dangerous. However, you still need to remember an Alligator does not see you as prey, but they can associate you with a meal.

What do you do when kayaking with alligators?

Alligators are considered docile and, for the most part, don’t want to have anything to do with you. We often kayak with alligators, and sometimes we must pass them while they are sunning themselves on a beach or sandbar. We try our best not to disturb them and have found the best way to keep them from entering the water is to not point your kayak directly at them and to utilize a smooth calm stroke. An erratic or fast-moving paddle seems to freak gators out. Following these suggestions, we will sometimes pass by a 10 footer within 10 yards, but

  • if you point right at it, he might enter the water when you’re not even 30 yards away.

Alligators are lazy

They want to eat, reproduce and maintain the proper body temperature. Unlike people, alligators are cold-blooded, meaning they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. If an alligator can’t internally regulate their body temp then how do they do it? It’s simple when a sandbar is warmer than the water, gators will exit and bask in the sun. If the water temps are warmer than the air temp, they will simply float in the water. This is often the case overnight and early mornings when the air temp is still a bit chilly. So, if you find an alligator sunning itself out of the water, it is out of necessity, and I promise you he or she would prefer to be in the water if not for the temperature.

You know that phrase fish out of water? Well, you could easily say alligator out of water too, except an alligator can still breathe just fine. So, if you see an alligator on a sandbar, try not to point directly at it and pass them with the broadside of your kayak facing them. Sometimes there is so little room in a creek or waterway that we will inevitably push the gator into the water. Not a big deal if it happens. Just keep kayaking and stay alert. 

What happens if you are kayaking and you see an alligator in the water? 

Most often, nothing. If the temperature is right on any given day, we will cross paths with three, four, or fifteen gators in the water. You will see about a foot or two of their head, or the telltale eyes and nose only. If we see this, we simple kayak on by. Again, try not to point directly at them, and as you start to get closer and closer, you will typically begin to see a subtle and controlled sink, then he disappears. Most often, that gator is only inches below the surface.  Out of habit, I try not to kayak directly over the gator’s last location. If you encounter an alligator while kayaking and they are perfectly still, they aren’t making any weird movements or noises, and they seem comfortable this is what I tell my customers.

“this is super important, listen up. If you see an alligator, I need you to do this exactly as I say. Slowly unzip your life jacket pocket, pull out your camera, and take a picture.” 

That is it! Please, understand though, I’m not suggesting you paddle at an alligator, nor am I suggesting you take an alligator selfy from 5 feet away.

  • The point here is that in general alligators truly are more afraid of you than you are of them. This is why they will often quickly enter the water when you approach them. 

Is it safe to kayak during alligator mating season?

You may have noticed I said if you kayak with alligators and they aren’t moving or making noise, you are safe. This is where we start to get into the scenarios when kayaking with alligators could be dangerous. Let me rephrase that, these are the scenarios when you should take extra precautions when kayaking with alligators and when you should pay closer attention to their body language and your surroundings. All of our guides are comfortable in gator territory. If we weren’t, we would be kayaking in Maine. With that said, we all have a healthy respect for them. After all, they are capable of seriously injuring you or even killing you. 

Alligators love hot weather

I mentioned earlier that alligators are lazy and often look like statues; however, there are times during the year when gators start to move. The trigger for us is as reliable as my Toyota tundra.

  • On the very first 90-degree day in the winter or spring, alligators will immediately change from frozen statues to remote-controlled boats zooming around the pond.

On this 90-degree day, you have entered alligator mating season. It might not be full-on mating season just yet, but at this time, gators are on the move, they are sizing up their neighbors, and they are looking for the prime waters throughout the glades. Two weeks before the 90-degree day, you might have seen 4 or 5 gators sharing a small beach or sandbar, but now things have changed. Gators are now more solitary and territorial. They don’t want to share the beach with anyone, and the largest alligators will start to defend their small pond or sunny patch of beach. This is now when you need to start paying close attention to the alligator’s body language. Sometimes while launching or gearing up for your paddle, you will notice one, two, or three gators on the move.

Alligator body language

Witnessing multiple alligators swimming through a pond should signal to you, it’s time to pay attention. Often during this season, you will hear that deep bellow, or you will see and hear super loud splashes around a corner. That very easily could be an alligator fight. Encountering two gators in fight mode is an exciting experience to witness but also potentially dangerous. Think two sheep ramming each other. If you jump right in the middle of that sheep battle, those sheep might very well start charging you. They obviously don’t want to eat you. They just want to fight you. The same thing can happen in gator territory. If you witness two gators fighting, one could very easily see you as the next competitor after winning his first fight.

  • Remember, he isn’t’ trying to eat you; he is trying to fight you, almost as dangerous. If this happens, you should paddle away from the agitated gator.

What does an agitated gator look or act like?

  • Puffing up and down – you will notice the belly getting larger and the back will raise up out of the water
  • Clapping or snapping of the jaws
  • Alligator swimming towards you
  • Sinking and reappearing while getting closer or not moving away from you
  • Bellowing – the bellow is one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed in nature, and you will hear and hopefully see it during matting season

You will often see them puff up and down while floating on the water, or you will see their mouths snapping. You could even have one swim directly at you.

  • If the gator swims directly at you, you should line the kayak to point directly at him, then back paddle. Earlier I mentioned not to point your kayak at the gator, but if you are trying to scare him off or make him back down you do want to point at him. 

This will keep your eyes on the gator and put the kayak in the position they don’t like. When you witness these types of behaviors, you need to stay cautious and aware. Even if they swim at you, they are hopefully false charging. I have experienced some charges in years past, but the gator will usually swim towards you, suddenly change direction, and dive, making a huge splash. Yes, it is intimidating, but if you know how to react, you can stay safe. 

Will Alligators attack a kayak?

Quick answer yes, the better answer is most likely no. With all of the above information, we now better understand why an alligator might attack a kayaker. Now that we know alligators don’t see us as food but might associate us with being fed, we understand we might want to be more cautious when kayaking with alligators at public boat ramps or docks. 

We also understand that alligators, like people, can be moody. If I notice a dude pacing back and forth erratically on the corner of the street, I’m probably going to cross the street. Maybe go a different direction. If I see someone roaring and pounding his chest, like he just finished a cage fight, I’m probably not going to and ask him for directions.

  • Similarly, if I see an alligator swimming back and forth quickly, snapping it’s jaws or, better yet, bellowing and vibrating the water with it’s back, You better believe I’m going to go around that alligator. He has communicated through his body language not to mess with him.  

Nesting Female alligators

This is another potentially dangerous alligator scenario. Female alligators are great mothers, and they will defend their nest and young. If you see a weird elevated mound in the middle of a pond, you could and probably should consider that to be an alligator nest if a gator is nearby. I would stay away from it.  At least until you know for sure it is not someone’s home. A mother alligator might quickly chase you out of that area. On the other side of that, I have encountered mother gators in heavily used kayak trails like the Turner River in Big Cypress. For the most part, that mother is very used to seeing kayakers and seems to ignore them altogether. With that said, I still pay close attention when approaching that area. 

Kayak Fishing with Alligators

I know this has been a long article, but I wanted to make sure I covered everything I have learned about kayaking with alligators.  After all, this is a pretty serious subject. My first regular encounters with alligators started the summer after my junior year in college. At this time, I had already changed my career goals from being a specialized veterinarian to becoming a wildlife biologist. To graduate with a Fisheries and Wildlife degree from NCSU, we had to spend half of a summer enrolled in a 6-week “summer camp.” This was more like summer school than camp. Anyway, this meant I could not spend my final summer in college as a kayak guide in Maine, like the previous two. 

So, what was the second-best thing I could do? Get an internship that provided employee housing on a Carolina Bay in eastern North Carolina. There I lived with my black lab and got off of work every day at 3 pm. Where am I going with this? Basically, every day at 3’oclock, I would hop in the canoe and fish for bass and bream. For those of you not from the south, a bream is a “sunfish”. This was on private water, so there were tons of massive bream. So big I could barely hold them with one hand.

How to Land Fish in Alligator waters

Hooking and landing these big fish, I started to encounter a problem. The alligators would begin to show up as soon as I began catching fish. Reeling the fish in too fast would make too much noise. I had to change my tactics on landing them. Basically, the gators were attracted to the commotion on the top of the water. If they saw the opportunity, they would swim out and steal my fish. I realized I had to start reeling in the fish slower. I had to keep my rod tip pointed closer to the water but still allow for play so I wouldn’t break them off. Bringing the fish in slower didn’t make as much commotion on the top of the water, and often, the gators didn’t know I was landing fish. The key here is to keep the fish as quiet as possible when reeling them in.

However, the gators still knew I was there, and I did need to keep an eye out for them. I had to change up how I released or revived any fish. Rarely would I pose for pictures with my hands halfway in the water, and I definitely wasn’t reviving them with my hands in the water. I was releasing them as quickly as possible, making sure no alligators were hiding out below the surface of the water, ready to snatch my catch or my hand.  

Join us on a Guided Kayak Tour

Lastly, we provide guided kayak tours through the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Fakahatchee State Preserve just south of Naples and Marco Island.  We encounter numerous alligators on a daily basis. Our guides have witnessed agitated alligators, and on occasion, we have surprised them. Our kayaks are designed for this specific area, are unbelievably stable, and have higher gunnels than a typical sea kayak. All participants are required to wear properly fitting life jackets. We provide them with alligator safety information before entering the water. If you combine proper preparation with the right gear and knowledge, it can be safe to kayak with alligators. 

If you have something to add to this article, have questions or want to join us and kayak with alligators, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Feel free to check us out on Instagram or Facebook, where we are regularly posting photos and videos of our kayak experiences in South Florida and Colorado. 

Naples Florida COVID-19 Precautions


Adventure Paddle Tours is committed to keeping staff and guests safe during these challenging times. Please, read through what precautions, requirements, and protocols we have implemented to keep our staff and guests as safe as possible. In addition, we implore you to CONTACT US if you or your family have additional requirements or requests to ensure your complete satisfaction and confidence in us in keeping you, your family, and our staff safe. 

It is understood that outdoor activities pose a lesser risk of COVID-19 infection. Please read the following article from the Mayo Clinic for more information on outdoor activities. Even with the decreased chance of COVID-19 infection outdoors we are still utilizing the following practices. More helpful information on COVID-19 can be found on the CDC Website. 

Social Distancing:

Since day one, our Florida kayak tours have been capped at eight guests unless a larger private party has booked. 


Kayak Tours - Maximum of 8, with the option for a private tour for a flat $100 fee

Boat Tours - All boat tours are private, Your family and our captain. Our tour boat is designed to keep passengers at the bow (front) while your captain operates the boat from the stern (back).

 Distancing in the Field:

Throughout the process, from booking to our introduction and while on tour, our guides will remind guests of the recommended 6-foot distancing. Our kayak paddles are great reminder tools. Extend your paddle the full length, and that is the minimum suggested spacing. Guests are always encouraged to spread out just enough to stay in earshot but close enough to spot things their guide might find. 

Passenger Van Shuttle:

Our Manatees and Mangroves Tour is the only route that utilizes a passenger van. The travel time from the meeting location to the put-in is 4 miles or 7 minutes. Separate households or reservations are shuttled separately. Please, understand to utilize this additional safety measure, GUESTS MUST ARRIVE EARLY.

Sanitizing & Disinfecting:


Paddles - Paddles are cleaned with FDA approved disinfecting solution before and after every use. 

PFDs - PFDs (life jackets) are rotated between tours, allowing for 24 hours of sun exposure between each use. Each jacket is sprayed with an FDA approved disinfectant and left in full sunlight.

Passenger Van - High use areas (seat belts, seats, and armrests are cleaned thoroughly between uses. We require windows to be fully open during use. 

Face masks:

Face masks are required while riding in our passenger van and during any interactions where the required 6-foot distancing is unlikely. We kindly ask all customers to respect OUR right as a small business to enforce OUR chosen implemented safety policies. If you are not willing to wear a mask while utilizing our services, you have the right to support any other business, and we will happily offer recommendations to some of our competitors with whom we have an excellent working relationship. 

Face masks and ADA compliance: 

“The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations,” 

the Department of Justice Department. 

Lastly, for the most part, a face mask is only required while riding in our van. The Fakahatchee Wilderness Tour, The Rookery Bay Tours, and our Boat Tours do not utilize the van. In addition, we can operate a variation of our Manatees and Mangroves Tour without using the van. However, the addition of the passenger van does remove difficult variables such as tide and wind. During our first year of running the Manatees and Mangroves Tour, we did not utilize a van. Feel free to CONTACT US if you still have concerns with our COVID-19 decisions. We will not mix politics and business, but if anyone knows me, they will know I always wear my life jacket when kayaking, my seat belt when driving, my helmet when mountain biking and skiing, and I only drive at max nine mph over the speed limit. 

Customer Screening:

Guests are kindly asked to cancel their tour with a full refund if they have experienced any of these symptoms:

Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, the recent loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. 

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, we kindly ask you to cancel with a full refund. 

Within the past 14 days, have you had contact with anyone that you know had COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms? Contact is being 6 feet (2 meters) or closer for more than 15 minutes with a person, or having direct contact with fluids from a person with COVID-19 (for example, being coughed or sneezed on).

Have you had a positive COVID-19 test for active virus in the past ten days?

Within the past 14 days, has a public health or medical professional told you to self-monitor, self-isolate, or self-quarantine because of concerns about COVID-19 infection?

Employee Screening:

Adventure Paddle Tours is a very small operation. There are three of us working at the Naples location, and we are all following the above guidelines and screening questions. We are offering paid time off if employees must miss work due to COVID-19

What to wear kayaking

What to wear kayaking on Dillon Reservoir

If any of you have been on a tour with me before, you will know I have a difficult time giving guests a solid yes or no answer about anything!? This blog post is my attempt to answer any guest?s questions about what to wear kayaking with Adventure Paddle Tours.? The short answer is below. Please read on further for detailed information.

  • Hat
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Suncreen
  • Synthetic bottoms (boardshorts, hiking shorts/pants)
  • Synthetic UPF T-shirt (I prefer longsleeve for sun)
  • Water shoes or sandals
  • Rain jacket or synthetic fleece jacket (Mainly for our Colorado kayak Tours)

My go-to on every single kayak tour is as follows.

I wear shoes designed for kayaking and my go-to shoes for the last 3 years have been the Astral Loyaks.? I wear board shorts, a long sleeve synthetic UPF sun shirt, hat, and polarized sunglasses.? Everyday before I leave the house, I apply a base of at least 70 SPF sunscreen and other than the tops of my hands that protocol has done pretty well for me.? For our Colorado kayak tours, it is also very important to bring a light synthetic fleece jacket or a rain jacket to cut the wind.? IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT GUESTS DO NOT WEAR THE TYPICAL HEAVY COTTON COLLEGE STYLE HOODIES.? WHEN THESE SWEATSHIRTS GET WET THEY WILL NOT INSULATE AND WILL IN FACT DO THE OPPOSITE. ?

So, that is my go to clothing for kayaking, however I do this for a living and that is my uniform.? Often, guests will book a kayak tour while visiting say Denver and just didn?t pack for a kayak trip.? Don?t worry! Clothing is not going to make or break your guided kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours and we can often provide guests with some additional gear, other than what we already provide.? Let's break down each garment for a closer look on what you should really wear and why it?s important.? ? ?

Shoes, what to wear kayaking?

Guests have gotten away with everything from cowboy boots, to sandals and standard tennis shoes, shoes, in my opinion, are the most comfortable but please be prepared for them to get a little wet.?The two most common types of footwear you will see a kayak guide wear would be a closed-toed low profile shoe designed to get wet and built with a nonstick sole or a beefy sandal made for hiking, again with a solid non-slip sole.?

In my opinion, the best kayak shoes and sandals on the market are going to be the Astral Loyak and Chaco?s Z classic sandals. Over the years, most of our guides seem to prefer the sandal route.? Myself and Ryan, our lead guide in Colorado, prefer closed-toed shoes due to more protection moving kayaks and running around on rocky shorelines.? On all of our kayak tours both on Dillon Reservoir and in Naples, Florida our guests enter and exit our kayaks from dry land so, you do not need to walk in the water.?

On our Naples kayak tours, our guest's feet do tend to get wet since we use open style sit inside kayaks.? In Colorado, your shoes should stay pretty dry while kayaking.? Finally, the answer to the average visitor joining us on a kayak tour is tennis shoes you don?t mind getting a little wet or sandals are your best option for joining us on a kayak tour.?

What type of shirt should I wear kayaking?

For kayaking all day, I prefer a long sleeve synthetic UPF t-shirt since I do wear a life jacket, I prefer a minimal shirt with no pockets or snags that could get uncomfortable under my PFD.?

Both my hands and my arms will often get wet while kayaking and sunscreen is usually only waterproof for an hour and a half.? Years ago, my doctor warned me about the freckles starting to appear on my arms and from here on out it?s been a long sleeve synthetic shirt.

The material is also very important when thinking about kayaking in colder waters like what we have on Dillon Reservoir.? If you haven?t heard the term "cotton kills," you have now.? Basically, when you get wet wearing cotton clothing the cotton has zero insulating properties and will actually pull the heat away from your body and in a serious survival situation, cotton clothing can kill you.? This is why almost all outdoor clothing is made of either a synthetic material or merino wool. ?

What Type of Pants or Shorts Should I Wear on a Kayak Tour?

Same story here, I always wear board shorts and if we are kayaking in early May on Dillon Reservoir or late September I might wear black synthetic long johns under my board shorts.? Now, while on vacation in Colorado guests often pack jeans and do fine on the kayak tours but please remember cotton jeans are not comfortable at all while kayaking and if you have the option of athletic shorts or hiking pants, wear those.?

Please, everyone, remember we will not cancel our kayak tours due to cooler weather and it is your responsibility to dress appropriately.? So, on our morning tours in July jeans and t-shirts might be okay but if it?s an overcast day with a little wind proper clothing is important.? ? ?

Should I Wear a Jacket for My Kayak Tour?

When kayaking in Florida, you almost never need a jacket even in the winter.? Our kayak tours in Colorado are a different story.?

Almost every morning until mid July I will show up to work wearing some type of light jacket.? If you are only going to bring one type of jacket while vacationing? to Colorado, it should probably be a rain jacket.? Obviously, these are great for rain but they are also perfect for windy days while kayaking or at the top of peaks where it can be cold and windy.? The wind stopping properties of most rain jackets are perfect for just about every summer day in Colorado at 9,000 foot elevation.?

For most of our visitors on our kayak tours, almost all guests have some type of synthetic fleece.? If you don?t own a fleece it might be time to trade in that cotton sweatshirt for a synthetic or even marino wool fleece jacket.? The takeaway on the jacket conversation is try not to wear cotton sweatshirts and if you have both a wind stopping rain jacket and a light fleece that is absolutely perfect for kayaking in Colorado and even Florida.? We will often get short periods of rainfall. Sometimes even just 5 minutes but if we got soaked for 5 minutes and you are wearing cotton you might regret that decision for the next 2 hours of kayaking.?

Should I Wear Sunglasses for My Kayak Tour?

Let me preface this subject with the fact that I am a pyscho when it comes to wearing sunglasses and a hat.?

I will search my house for 30 minutes to find my sunglasses before going to the truck for something.? So, with that in mind, it makes sense that I won?t be caught dead on the water kayaking without a good pair of sunglasses.?

Sunglasses are also not all created equal and the number one most important feature with a pair of sunglasses for kayaking or fishing on the water is the fact that they should be polarized.?

Polarized sunglasses essentially give you better vision through the water by cutting the horizontal glares reflecting off the water. Polarized sunglasses aren?t crazy important on our Colorado kayak tours since we aren?t pointing out things like Manatees, bull sharks and alligators like we see on our Florida kayak tours but if you plan on doing some fly fishing while visiting Colorado you definitely want a decent pair of polarized sunglasses.? You will be amazed how much more stuff you will see on our Naples kayak tours if you wear polarized sunglasses, especially on our Manatees and Mangroves kayak tours. ?On a side not polarized sunglasses are great for driving through those light rainy days with tons of glare.?

Should I Wear a Hat for My Kayak Tour?

Again, I don?t go outside without a hat but we do get a number of guests that just don?t wear hats and that is perfectly fine.? I personally prefer a full brim stiff hat with a cord for windy days kayaking and it can often get windy on Dillon Reservoir.? If you want to take it one step further be sure to buy a hat that has a dark underside on the brim.? You might laugh but it does make a difference for anyone that loves to fish or tends to get eye fatigue in the sun. ?

Book Your Kayak Tour with Confidence

So, hopefully, I have answered more questions rather than created them with this blog post.? Please, remember that less than optimal kayaking clothing won?t make or break a kayak tour in during perfect weather.? However, perfect weather is definitely not the norm for both Colorado and Florida and guests should try their absolute best to be prepared for any type of weather that can roll in on our Florida Kayak Tours and our Colorado Kayak tours. ?Also, this blog was not intended for the safe kayaking clothing but was written with guest's comfort while on a kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours. ?Please, remember if you are kayaking in colder weather or colder water their are important variables you must take into account. ?? ?

To learn more about our kayak tours in Naples or our kayaking tours in Lake Dillon, click here.

? ?

Should You Take a Self-Guided or Guided Kayak Tour in Naples?

Are you in or traveling to Naples, Florida and want to go kayaking? Kayaking is a great way to explore the outdoors of Southwest Florida while also being active.

While Florida?s sandy white beaches are very popular, taking a kayak tour gives you a more ?off the beaten path? way to experience the nature of the area. There are a few different ways to take a kayak tour in the area. Many places offer kayak rentals where you can rent the kayak for a few hours and go on a self-guided tour, and there are also kayak tours where you are led on your kayak by a guide.

You may be wondering, which one is right for you? If you?re unsure of whether you should rent a kayak or take a guided kayak tour, we compiled a few considerations you should make when making your decision about kayaking.

What is your experience level?

A first question to ask yourself when going kayaking is what experience level and fitness level you are at.

If you are a beginner, you might think it?s better to get a rental and go on your own so you can go at your own pace. However, guided kayak tours are great for beginners!

Your kayak guide will keep it at a comfortable pace for beginners, and most tours are good for ages 6 and up. By having an expert with you, you also won?t have to worry about getting lost and will have someone to inform you of all the proper kayaking regulations and techniques.

We don?t recommend taking a self-guided tour until you are more comfortable kayaking on your own.

What kayak routes do you want to take?

Another thing to consider when you are taking a guided kayak tour is what route you want to take.

Many rental locations are in popular spots like the Gordon River or Wiggins Pass. While these are great places to kayak, they are not the most unique and you may run into many other kayak renters, especially in busy season.

By taking a guided kayak tour, you will get to experience more exclusive routes. Adventure Paddle Tours? guided kayak tours go through Fakahatchee State Park, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Rookery Bay on the most unique routes offered in the area, so you get to see a different side of Southwest Florida not available on a self-guided tour.

Are you going by yourself or with a group?

Taking a self-guided tour is great if you are by yourself (given you have a comfortable experience level) or with a few people. But for groups up to 8, a guided kayak tour is a great experience.

We keep guided kayak tour groups small to be more intimate, but they are still great for families, groups of friends, or even coworkers taking an excursion. Once you get more than 2 or 3 people, it can be difficult to keep everyone together on a self-guided tour, but an expert guide can lead the way for your group and keep you on the right route.

Do you want to see Florida?s native wildlife?

If you want to see the native wildlife of Florida, a guided kayak tour is the right way to go.

Through our unique routes, we allow you to see the animals that reside in Florida?s mangrove forests like alligators, river otters, wading birds, and the Florida manatee.

Adventure Paddle Tours? guides are Florida Master Naturalists that are experts in animals and nature so they can point out the unique animals you encounter. While self-guided kayaking, you might get lucky and see some animals, but it?s much more likely to happen on a guided tour.

Book A Guided Kayak Tour in Naples Today

As you can see, while self-guided kayak tours can be great, taking a guided kayak tour with an expert guide has a lot of unique benefits.

If you are ready to take a guided kayak tour in Naples with Adventure Paddle Tours, book online with us today!

Mangroves & Manatees: Your Guide to Florida?s Top Sights

Kayaking in Naples is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in nature and to get to see a different side of Southwest Florida then the white sand beaches we all know.

When you start talking about nature in Florida, two of the first words you?ll hear are mangroves and manatees. The Florida mangroves are a popular site to see, with several nature preserve areas consisting of mangrove forests you can explore. The Florida manatee is an endangered species native to Southwest Florida that is loved by all.

That?s what makes Mangroves & Manatees kayaking one of the most popular kayak tours to take in Naples. Learn more!

Inside SWFL?s Mangrove Forests

Mangroves are tropical trees that thrive in salty coastal winters with the ebb and flow of the tide. There are 3 types ? red, black and white.

Mangrove forests develop on saltwater coasts, and Florida is one of the only states you can find them. They dominate as coastal vegetation, and once you get off the beaten path of the well-known beaches in Naples, you?ll find the beautiful intricate mangrove forests that make up Southwest Florida?s most popular kayaking areas.

The mangrove forests along the Southwest Florida coasts are one of the most extensive mangrove ecosystems in the world. Fish flock to mangroves, as well as many other animals like loggerhead turtles, birds, and of course manatees - making it a great place to go kayak fishing or simply explore nature.

About the Florida Manatee

The Florida manatee is one of the most beloved creatures, which is a must-see for anyone visiting Naples from out of town. They are even the state?s marine mammal!

Manatee populations have historically been endangered and threatened ? mainly due to boating accidents where they get injured or killed by boat propellers. Kayaking is a great way to see manatees and explore their natural habitat without damaging it or threatening their lives.

Manatees love mangroves, they use them for food and a quiet place to rest and raise their young. When kayaking through the mangrove forests, you?ll often encounter the Florida manatee. Because of their docile nature, you can often get close and see them floating or playing in the water or snacking on sea grass.

Take A Guided Kayak Tour Through the Mangroves (and Maybe See Some Manatees!)

The best way to navigate through the mangrove forests and get up close and personal with a manatee is to take a guided kayak tour led by an expert guide.

Adventure Paddle Tours top-rated Mangroves & Manatee Tunnels Kayak tour is a 3-hour tour out of the Port of Islands Marina ? tucked between Everglades National Park, the Ten Thousand Island Nation Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Park, the Picayune Strand, and Fakahatchee State Preserve.

This unique route is surrounded by mangrove forests where our Florida Certified Naturalist Guide can lead you to unbeatable opportunities to spot manatees, alligators, river otters, and more.

To take a guided kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours, book online with us today!

Top Reasons to Kayak Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida is a popular vacation destination in Southwest Florida known for award-winning white sand beaches and luxury shopping and dining. Thanks to the great weather we experience year-round, another great thing to do when you are visiting the area is to explore the outdoors and see the natural ecosystems Southwest Florida has.

While the miles of beaches along the coastland are always popular, there?s more to see in Naples than that. If you are vacationing in Naples, there are also natural gems waiting to be explored further inland ? and you can get a unique experience exploring the unmatched beauty of Florida?s wildlife by kayaking!

For All Ages & Exercise Levels

One of the great things about kayaking is that it?s great for your health! Not only are you getting out in fresh air and sunlight, but you are getting an effective, low-impact workout for your core and upper body. You can choose a leisurely paddle or set a more rigorous pace for more intense exercise. This makes kayaking a fun activity for all age groups, so it?s perfect for the whole family when you?re on vacation.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

Just off the beaten path in Naples, you can find some untouched areas of nature to explore. There are several backwater and mangrove forest areas that you can explore via kayak, that you wouldn?t be able to see on a boat or walking trail.

The Ten Thousand Island Wildlife Refuge is located between Collier County and Marco Island and is a protected area of mangrove forest where you can explore and see over 200 species of fish, 189 species of birds, and innumerable plant species.

Another popular spot is Rookery Bay which consists of 11,000 acres of meandering rivers and mangrove forests of protected land.

Meet Florida?s Native Animals

There aren?t many places in Naples where you can get up close and personal with native animal species of Naples. The unique environment of the mangrove forests, which have a mix of saltwater and fresh water, creates an inimitable mix of wildlife.

In addition to the fish and birds you can see while kayaking, you can see loggerhead sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, the American alligator, and the famous Florida manatee. Because kayaking causes very little disturbance to animals, you're likely to get more up close than you would on a Naples boat tour.

Take a Naples Kayak Tour Led by Expert Guides

The best way to kayak in Naples is to get the full kayak tour experience, led by experienced guides who are Certified Florida Master Naturalists.

Adventure Paddle Tours offers guided kayak tours for small groups up to 8, where your group will be led on the most unique routes in the area by our guides through the Ten Thousand Island Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee State Preserve, and Rookery Bay Reserve.

To book a guided kayak tour with us, visit our kayak tour page for more information and book with us today!

Kayak with Wildlife in Naples, Florida

One of the things that makes kayaking in Southwest Florida so exceptional is the ability to see all the unique wildlife that this area has to offer.

By taking a kayak eco-tour through the national parks, backwater wilderness areas, and mangrove ecosystems in Naples, it gives you the opportunity to spot rare animals in an intimate nature setting.

Find out what animals you can see when kayaking in Naples and learn more about them.

Rare Birds in Naples

There are several rare bird species that are native to the mangrove forests of Florida that you will be able to see as you kayak. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or not, you will be excited to spot these unique creatures in their peaceful habitat.

Great blue herons, little blue herons, green herons, and snowy egrets are a common sight that can be regularly seen resting around the area, and you can observe them wading over the shallow water as they look for prey. Least terns are the smallest type of tern in North America and are also a commonly spotted species in the area.

The yellow-crown night heron is an elusive bird that can be found throughout the mangrove forests. Finally, is the rosette spoonbill, a type of wading bird named for its spoonbill shaped beak, which is used for the specific type of foraging known as tactile feeding.

See Fish in Naples? Waters

While kayaking through the Florida waters, you are going to be up close and personal with many different species of fish that inhabit the area. In mangrove forests and backwater areas, you will find some of Florida?s most desired sport fish species including redfish, mullet, tarpon, jack crevalle, snook, mangrove snapper, baby Goliath grouper, and redfish. You may even see a bull shark, which is one of the most unique sharks in the world, capable of swimming 100s of miles upstream into 100% freshwater.

Other Unique Animals in Naples

Birds and fish aren?t the only unique wildlife you can see when you kayak in Naples. River otters can frequently be spotted in mangrove forests and backwater routes. The southwest Florida coast is also one of the two nesting areas in the world for loggerhead sea turtles, so on a rare event you could see one swimming as you kayak through the water.

Bottlenose dolphins are the most common type of dolphin you can often see their fins pop up as they plunge through the water. You may also spot the famous American alligator lurking in the shallow waters around the mangrove forest.

Kayak with Manatees in Southwest Florida

One of the most popular and exciting animals to kayak with in Naples is the Florida Manatee. The only population of manatees in the United States is found in the state of Florida, with many of them right in our backyard in the Southwest Florida waters. They can be found in fresh, brackish or saltwater and many of them live around the backwaters and mangrove forest. Because they move slowly through the water, they are easy to spot and get up close and personal with as you kayak.

The Most Unique Kayak Routes in Naples, Florida

Adventure Paddle Tours offers the most unique kayak routes in Southwest Florida, rooted in conservation, giving you the opportunity to see the beautiful wildlife that this area has to offer.

According to Florida?s Paradise Coast, the Rookery Bay Preserve, 10,000 Island Wildlife Refuge, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park are 3 of the best places to spot wildlife in our region, which are where all of our kayak tours are operated.

You will be led by our experienced guides who are Certified Florida Master Naturalists. To get the full eco-tour experience in Naples, book a guided kayak tour today!

Trip Report: Naples Kayak Adventures

Yesterday, we had two great Naples kayak adventures on the East River.? Both kayak tours were small in number, with the 11:30 am tour only having four kayakers from Belgium and the 3:00 pm tour only had two kayakers from Germany.? A cold front started pushing through Naples yesterday, which brought cooler temperatures, lower humidity and higher winds making for a very comfortable kayak tour.? The higher winds typically have little effect on the East River kayak tour due to the numerous Mangroves surrounding our whole route.? This kayak route paddles through a few smaller ponds no bigger than the size of a football field.? These smaller bodies of water allow for great cover on windier days.? I always mention to our kayakers in Naples that wind is not usually a factor, which is not the case on our kayak tours in Colorado.? Colder temperatures at night typically encourage the Manatees to start congregating in great numbers in the Fakaunion Canal.? Our Manatees and Mangroves kayak tour operates off of the Fakaunion canal and when the water temperatures in the Naples, Florida area start to dip below 75 degrees manatees start to look for warmer water.? Be on the lookout for a good report of manatees very soon.?

?Kayak with?Alligators on the East River

Naples kayak adventures
Kayaking with Alligators

While kayaking the East River both kayak tours had some close encounters with a few smaller alligators inside the Mangrove Tunnels.? We don?t often see them inside the tunnels but when we do the alligators will typically move over to one side then dip down to the bottom, allowing us to pass safely on one side of the mangrove tunnel.? The first pond at the kayak launch is usually the freshest water being farther away from the Gulf of Mexico, which means there are usually 4 or 5 larger alligators floating on the top.? Yesterday?s kayak tours were no different, the first kayak tour started out with a larger eight to nine-foot gator twenty yards from the put-in and all of our East River kayak tours have spotted two larger gators on the last PVC pole in the freshwater pond.?

Bird Watching on the East River from a kayak

The birding wasn?t at its best on this Naples kayak adventure which is typical of changing weather conditions.? We did, however, get to see some Black Crown Night herons on both kayak tours.? Black Crown Night Herons are often hard to spot and will sometimes remain still and silent allowing our kayakers to pass right by without even knowing they are there.? There were numerous noisy Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons along with a good bit of Ospreys soaring over us looking for their next fish catch. As always on the Fakahatchee kayak tour there were tons of Green Herons hiding deep in the mangrove roots, they were somewhat difficult to spot with the cloud cover but we managed to spot a few from our kayak.? The second tour saw the most bird action and right at the start, we were fortunate enough to spot the magnificent Wood Stork soaring over us.? These are easy birds to spot from your kayak due to their 5-foot wingspan and their black and white color combination.? The Wood stork was actually listed on the Endangered Species list in 1984 but was downgraded to threatened in 2014. ?

Expected Kayaking Conditions

Naples kayak adventures
Kayaking near Naples

We are still at the tail end of the rainy season which provides birds and alligators with numerous foraging grounds outside of our normal kayaking areas around Naples and the unseasonably warmer October did not encourage the large migrations south for many birds.? However, the cold front that passed through most of the southeast this weekend definitely pushed some birds south.? This combination of colder temps and dryer weather will make for some great kayak conditions in Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades.

If you would like to go on a Naples kayak adventure with us on the East River please visit our kayak tour page or shoot us an email at All of our guided kayak tours are within 30 minutes of Naples and Marco Island. The East River, Fakahatchee kayak tour is by far is the best and closest backcountry kayak tour you will find outside of Naples.? This tour is now going out daily at 9 am, and 3 pm.? Join us on a kayak tour today to spot some of this amazing wildlife for yourself!

Choosing the right kayak paddle for Naples, Florida Kayaking

With the arrival of our new kayak gear here in Naples, Florida I decided to write about the different types of kayak gear necessary while kayaking in Naples, Florida.? In this article, I will discuss your kayak paddle.? This is the second piece of kayak equipment after your PFD that we recommend you splurge on. Why you ask? It is the most personal part of your kayak gear.? Your kayak paddle is in your hand 99% of the time while on a kayak trip in Naples!? So when you are ready, take the plunge and buy the best paddle you can afford. Now, how do you know what kayak paddle is best or right for you? ?

Recreational, fiberglass touring and Carbon Touring Paddles

There are three basic categories when it comes to kayak paddles. Each type of kayak paddle is designed for the conditions of the area you intend to paddle, the type of kayak you?ll be in and the type of kayaking you plan to do. ? There are Recreational, Whitewater and touring paddles. If you plan on kayak Naples, Florida, you want to purchase either a recreational or touring kayak paddle.?

Whitewater Kayak Paddles

There is no whitewater to kayak in Naples.? Whitewater kayak paddles are typically heavier, stronger and made of either carbon fiber or fiberglass. The heavier weight associated with a stronger whitewater kayak paddle isn?t necessary when kayaking the Everglades or Naples. ? These paddles will definitely work here, but there is no need to spend the extra money on a more expensive kayak paddle designed for a different type of kayaking unless you plan to kayak surf.

Recreational Kayak Paddles

Recreational Kayak Paddle
Aluminum Shaft Recreational Kayak Paddle

Recreational kayak paddles are going to be your basic $20-$60 paddles, typically equipped with an aluminum shaft and some type of plastic blade.? These kayak paddles are fine for the once a month kayaker, but if you start to kayak any distance at all you will notice fatigue in your arms and shoulders.? These kayak paddles are typically heavy and the paddle blades aren?t always designed for any one type of paddle stroke. These are also the types of paddles that 99% of the kayak tours in Naples, Florida use. These paddles will work and are great starter paddles if you are unsure of how much you will actually kayak. If you can afford it, go the next step up and purchase a touring kayak paddle. Adventure Paddle Tours is committed to your comfort, which is why we have made the switch to all fiberglass shaft kayak paddles on our kayak tours in Naples. To learn more about Adventure Paddle Tours click here.

Touring Kayak Paddles

Full Carbon Touring Kayak Paddle
Full Carbon Touring Kayak Paddle

Touring kayak paddles are definitely your go-to paddle design if you plan to go kayaking in Naples, the Everglades or the Marco Island area often.? Touring kayak paddles are often constructed of lighter, stiffer and less corrosive materials. This is super important if you are kayaking any distances in the saltwater in Florida.? These kayak paddles will also have a blade shape designed for either a high angle stroke or a low angler stroke.? Touring kayak paddles can range from $100 for your fiberglass shafts and up to $400 for a full carbon fiber construction. While on a kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours, we teach a low angle stroke. This kayak stroke is typically less stressful on the shoulders and more efficient for longer kayaking trips.? Paddle blades designed for this type of stroke are typically long and slender, whereas a high angler kayak blade will have a boxier designed to push as much water as possible.? ?

Fiberglass Shaft Kayak Paddle
Fiberglass Shaft Touring Kayak Paddle

All of our kayak tours in Naples, Florida are up to 6 miles long and having the lightest and most fatigue free paddle is important to us.? That is why if you jump on a kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours you will be equipped with the best paddles, life jackets and kayaks available.? For our adult kayakers, we use a 34-ounce fiberglass shaft touring kayak paddle, American made by Aquabound in Osceola, Wisconsin.? For our younger kayakers, we provide them with a much lighter carbon fiber shaft, child-specific kayak paddle called the Sharky.? This paddle is also made by Aquabound and it is sure to keep those kiddos happy while on a kayak tour in Naples, Florida. ?

Children's Carbon fiber kayak paddle
"The Sharkie" Carbon Fiber Shaft kids paddle

I am a firm believer that you don?t need the newest most expensive gear to get out and enjoy your kayaking in Naples, Florida but again if you want to start kayaking more and more do yourself a favor and buy a kayak touring life jacket and paddle.? Our new kayak specific PFDs should arrive in Naples sometime early next week.? Be on the lookout for a new article explaining why a kayak touring PFD will make you happy and comfortable while kayaking in Naples, Florida!

If you want to paddle the different types of paddles Book a kayak tour today and we will be happy to bring multiple options.

Best Places to Kayak in Naples, Florida

Want to go kayaking in Naples, Florida? While the Southwest Florida coast is known for our award-winning sandy beaches, the inland mangrove system and backwaters also offers a beautiful piece of nature to explore.

A great way to experience the landscape and see the wildlife is to take a kayaking trip in Naples. Kayaking is also a great way to get outside and exercise but is low impact and leisurely enough that people of any age and activity level can participate, so it?s a perfect activity for families, couples, and other small groups.

Here are some of the best places to kayak in Naples from the expert Florida Master Naturalists at Adventure Paddle Tours.

Fakahatchee State Park

Kayaking in the Florida Everglades

The Fakahatchee State Park allows you to disconnect from the crowded roads and truly immerse yourself in a nature and wilderness experience. As the largest state park in Florida, the park is rooted in conservation and preserving the natural land Southwest Florida has to offer.

There is zero development in the area minus the dirt road used to access the water. There are four major components to the park ? The East River Canoe Launch, the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, the Jones Grade Lakes, and Janes Memorial Scenic highway.

We offer our guided kayak eco-tours out of the East River canoe launch, where for 2.5 hours you can explore backwater of Collier County. Through the Friends of Fakahatchee, you can also book swamp walks and interpretive boardwalk tours through the park.

Rookery Bay Reserve


One of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove systems in North America exists right here in our backyard in Naples at the Rookery Bay Research Reserve.

This highly biodiverse area is integral to the Everglades ecosystem, and due to its high chance of development was put into protection. The reserve is home to an environmental learning center where they have several programs to educate and help the community through marine conservation, as well as being home to a kayak launch site.

We also offer one of the most unique routes through Rookery Bay, where you can see abundant marine wildlife and even a little-known bald eagles? nest. We offer evening kayak tours where you can experience the sunset from a beautiful vantage point.

Port of the Islands Marina


The Port of the Islands Marina is a hidden gem, and one the premier marinas in Florida. It is located 20 miles from downtown Naples. With its prime location between the Everglades National Park, the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Park, and the Picayune Strand and Fakahatchee Strand state parks, it is surrounded by mangrove forests and offers direct access to the Gulf. What makes kayaking from the marine so special is the opportunity to spot rare wildlife like alligators, river otters, birds, and manatees.

We?re able to offer exclusive kayak tours out of this port out of a private slip, giving you the opportunity to experience one of the most unique routes in the area with an expert guide.

Book A Guided Kayak Tour in Naples Today

If you want to experience an award-winning, Florida Master Naturalist Tour in Naples at one of these top locations, Adventure Paddle Tours is the kayaking company for you. We are a 5-year recipient of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and our customers have the best time while on our tours (see our Google reviews for proof).

All our tours are rooted in conservation and giving you a unique nature experience. Book a tour today or contact us for more information!