Kayaking In Miami

Kayaking In Miami

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Miami, definitely consider adding kayaking in Virginia Key to your list. It’s a fun outdoor activity, only minutes away from downtown Miami.


We’ll admit, it was something that had never crossed our minds. But when my bestie Alicia was visiting from Colorado, she said that kayaking in the area of Key Biscayne was something that she wanted to do. So we started researching kayak rentals in Miami and quickly settled on the Virginia Key Outdoor Center.


The VKOC was easy to find, with a small parking lot next to the rental office. After some paperwork, we were given paddles, life jackets, and shown on a map the route we should take.


Virginia Key Outdoor Center


We walked over to the water (Lamar Lake), and pushed off. It was really quiet and serene as we glided past the mangroves. We passed other kayakers and small boats as we headed out into more open water.


Kayaking in Virginia Key

Kayaking in Virginia Key


Soon we were passing through what’s known as Norris Cut, with Fisher Island on our right. Fisher Island is a private island with luxury homes and world-class resort amenities. So basically we were looking over to our future home… ha!! Yeah right!! 😉


Homes on Fisher Island


As we rounded the northern point of Virginia Key, there it was… the Downtown Miami skyline. We’d never seen it from this angle and it was really cool to have my best friend see this side of the city that we love so much.


Downtown Miami skyline


After about an hour we decided to start heading back. As we were passing back through Lamar Lake and nearing the bank where we were to leave our kayaks, Alicia noticed something at the end of the lake.

Are those manatees?!?!

I don’t know, let’s go see! So we slowly paddled over, and to our surprise and delight, they were! There were a bunch of them, slowly coming up for air, some swimming right under our kayak.


manatees in Lamar Lake Virginia Key

manatees in Lamar Lake Virginia Key

manatees in Lamar Lake Virginia Key


We had never been that close to manatees before, but it was good preparation for when we’d go swimming with manatees a few weeks later. We stayed a few minutes longer, never knowing where a manatee would surface, our heads swiveling every time we heard one.


Finally, we decided it was time to head back. We left our kayaks on the shore, turned in our paddles and life jackets, and chatted about our experience.



Things To Know:

  • – Renting a two-person kayak costs $30 for the first hour and then $10 for each additional hour.
  • – You can’t reserve a kayak, so if you’re going on a weekend we recommend getting there early to guarantee you get one.
  • – Virginia Key also has trails perfect for hiking, running, and biking.
  • – VKOC also rents out Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) and mountain bikes and offers activities like guided nature trail walks, SUP yoga, kayak fishing, and more. For more information you can check out Virginia Key Outdoor Center’s website.
  • – If you forget water or sunblock, they do have a small shop and snack bar.


Isn’t if funny how sometimes it takes someone visiting for you to do something new in your hometown? Kayaking in Miami was something we’d never looked into before but we’re so glad we did because it ended up being really fun!


Have you ever done something new in your hometown when someone came to visit? We’d love to read your comments below! 🙂


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Kayaking in Virginia Key is a fun outdoor activity minutes from downtown Miami. You'll see mangroves, the downtown skyline, and local wildlife.


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  1. Since I grew up in Miami and love kayaking, I was intrigued by this article title and wondered where you went. Miami River (yuck), Everglades, Biscayne Bay. Ahhh, Virginia Key. Excellent. Little know McCool trivia (since I know you live for that), I worked on Virginia Key for four summers, at the government facility on the right before the park entrance. When I was there, we had a manatee hospital. Sad to them come in there. I much prefer to see them in the wild, open waters.

    1. Yes, we love McCool trivia! And so cool that you know the area so well!

  2. OK I was already getting enthusiastic – have been to Miami many times as have family there, but never thought to go kayaking – and then I saw that you saw manatees! MUST DO THIS!

    1. Haha! I grew up here and had never thought of it. So glad we did it though!

  3. How fun! I would be really excited to see the manatees! They are so cute and live in many of the waterways in Florida from what I hear. I will have to look at going kayaking here next time I have some time in Miami!

    1. It was definitely unexpected to see them, but really cool. 🙂

  4. I love urban kayak adventures. How cool is it that you guys saw manatees so close to downtown Miami?

  5. That skyline was beautiful and what an unexpected surprise to have manatees as visitors!

  6. I didn’t know you could do this in Miami but it looks really cool. How awesome to see the manatees too.

  7. I love exploring my own place whenever I come back home. I am just amazed on how one can be a tourist in her own hometown. I get surprised, too, most of the times! LOL.

    1. Yes! I think people should do it more often! 😀

  8. What a fun activity. I wish I knew about it when I was in Miami. I will have it in mind for the next time. You were so lucky to see manatees too.

  9. Megan Jerrard says:

    Kayaking was my favorite thing to do in Florida – so cool that you got to see manatees! Though you guys did it the right way lol our kayak was always an inflatable one we had purchased from ebay – ended up popping it halfway through a trip one day :D!

    1. Haha! That must have been a funny experience! 😉

  10. Something to consider whenever I get back to Miami. I have never been kayaking.

  11. What a different way to see Miami. I love that you saw manatees.

  12. Wow that’s so awesome that you just paddled over to some manatees! I’m based in the UK and of course we’d never see anything like that here!

  13. Great adventure! I have never been kayaking. Its in my wishlist & at least once, I will definitely go for it. I truly inspired after reading the post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That’s awesome Julie! Definitely tell them that Vicky and Buddy sent you! 🙂

  14. I’m looking forward to more kayaking in Florida now that I’ve experienced my first manatee sighting while kayaking Crystal River with you and Buddy. It would be cool to add Miami and other manatee designations to the list.

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