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.