Last Updated on December 22, 2023

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Tampa’s crystal blue waters provide fantastic places for kayaking in Florida.  You’ll find several great kayak tours in Tampa that provide a kayak and oars for your day on the water. 

Riding with one of these kayak tour companies is among the best ways to view local wildlife in its natural habitat.  Whether it’s getting on your own kayak or double kayaks, most have either option available. 

Paddling a kayak is also an excellent choice if you want to experience a fun outdoor activity in the Tampa area.  Most of these tours operate throughout the year, even in the winter months. 

Here are some of the best tours and kayak rentals for your Tampa kayaking adventure!

 

Don’t Have Time To Read The Full Article? Book The Clear Kayak Tour Of Shell Key Preserve  with a 5⭐️rating

 

 

Best Kayak Tours In Tampa!

 

 

The tour is designed to stop at several photo stops and includes a break at Shell Key, where you spend time on the beach.<br />

Photo Credit- Get Up And Go Kayaking

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 2 Hours      Check Rates Here

Ride in clear kayaks to see Tampa Bay through a unique lens.  You’ll see down into the water as you ride.

Above the water, admire the mangroves and coastal birds.  The tour is designed to stop at several photo stops and includes a break at Shell Key, where you spend time on the beach. 

All the equipment you’ll need is provided, and an introductory safety session.  This tour caters to any skill level and is attentive to keeping a comfortable pace for its guests.

On these daily tours, you’ll paddle through the shallows and then to the beach.  Nature is all around you in these waters. 

From manatees and dolphins in the water to various bird species such as Roseate Spoonbills, and white pelicans, there is a good chance you will enjoy wildlife sightings as part of your day out.

Stops on the way provide an opportunity to learn about the local marine life, plants, and wildlife. This is one of the best clear kayak experiences!

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

√ Equipment, including tandem kayaks, paddles, seats, and dry bags

√ Safety equipment, including lifejackets and whistles

Here’s what a past guest said about this tour:

This was an amazing experience! Our tour guide Alessia was incredible and is very knowledgeable. She went out of her way to make our experience great by looking for wildlife on our journey, discussing the preserve with us, and taking pictures/videos that she sent us later so we wouldn’t get our own possessions wet. I highly recommend this company and will use them and their different locations in the future!

 

Kelsey_K 

 

 

 

Photo Credit- Get Up And Go Kayaking

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 1.5 Hours      Check Rates Here

Kayaking is not just a daytime activity.  This glow tour allows you to explore the water at night while riding a clear kayak equipped with LED lights.

After getting basic instructions to kayak paddling, you’ll venture out on the water in search of fish, manatees, and a variety of wildlife.

This tranquil tour of Shell Key Preserve is a unique way to experience the beauty of the area. 

With lights illuminating the water beneath your kayak and the starry sky above, you may see a variety of nocturnal wildlife surprises on this adventure.

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

  • Clear kayak with LED lights
  • Kayak paddles
  • Safety equipment, including lifejackets and whistles
  • Dry bags to store small belongings (cell phones, keys)


Good to Know

  • Long sleeves and long pants are recommended, as well as bug spray on your body to deter mosquitoes.
  • This tour does not accommodate children under the age of 12
  • Riders must have good upper-body mobility

Here’s what a past guest said about this tour:

We went on the guided night tour and it was nothing short of amazing! Our tour guide Matt was personable, knowledgeable and made sure we all had a great time. On our adventure, he helped point out a number of sea dwellers and many birds along the way. We were able to get out of our kayaks on the sand bar and paddled through the mangroves, which was my favorite part. Matt reminded us of the important connection we all share with nature and our tour was a great way to disconnect and reconnect to what’s most important. We will definitely be doing this tour again!

Laura_W ⭐

 

 

 

Known as the “sponge capital of the world,” Tarpon Springs is a favorite destination for kayak enthusiasts.

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 1.5 Hours      Check Rates Here

Paddle aboard a completely clear kayak to explore the bayous of Tarpon Springs. 

Known as the “sponge capital of the world,” Tarpon Springs is a favorite destination for kayak enthusiasts.

You’ll enjoy a leisurely paddle past Victorian-style mansions and stop at picturesque Craig Park.  Entering Spring Bayou, be on the lookout for manatees who enjoy the warm water in this area.

Your guide will help you watch for wildlife during your ride, including dolphins and local bird species. 

You’ll also hear about local history and the area’s ecosystems. During your ride on the calm and shallow waters, you’ll see views of “Golden Crescent” from your kayak. 

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

    • Clear kayak and paddles
    • Life jackets and whistles
    • Dry bags to store personal belongings

Here’s what a past guest said about this tour:

Charlie really made the trip fun. He took time to talk to each group separately, making everyone feel included. We were very fortunate to see a dolphin and several manatees!

Courtnie_O

 

 

 

Paddle a kayak on the Anclote River through mangroves while looking for wildlife.  Enjoy the peaceful waters while drifting on the river.

Photo Credit- River Wild Kayaking

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 2 Hours      Check Rates Here

Paddle a kayak on the Anclote River through mangroves while looking for wildlife. 

Enjoy the peaceful waters while drifting on the river.  Tour guides are attentive in keeping a comfortable pace for the group.

Your guide will help you understand the local ecosystem and the importance of the mangroves. 

This tour stops by the Historic Sponge Docks.

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

  • Kayak and paddle
  • Life jacket

Here’s what a past guest said about this tour:

Would recommend the 9:30 tour. Gets hot. Learned a lot about the area . Very educational. Austin, the guide, was extremely knowledgeable and patient if you are new to kayaking.

Catherine_M 

 

 

 

Caladesi Island and its surrounding waters provide an excellent backdrop for this kayak tour.

Photo Credit- Zoi Adventures/Facebook

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 4 Hours      Check Rates Here

Caladesi Island and its surrounding waters provide an excellent backdrop for this kayak tour

Heading out from the Dunedin Causeway, you’ll paddle across the water to a remote beach accessible only by boat or kayak.

Take some time to relax on the beach or continue to Caledisi Island State Park, a hidden gem in the Gulf of Mexico. 

You’ll be dazzled by the colorful water along this scenic ride.  Take in the panoramic views while looking at the abundance of marine life in the area.

Paddle to the mangrove forests near Caladesi Island State Park.  Pay attention to the surrounding area, as there are often wildlife sightings to appreciate.

Knowledgeable tour guides provide information about the local ecosystem.

This tour is excellent for novice kayakers who seek an easy paddle experience.  Bring your sense of adventure and sunscreen, and be prepared for a great day on the water!

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

  • Kayak and paddle
  • Life vest
  • Dry bag for personal belongings
  • Bluetooth speaker

Here is what a past guest said about this tour:

This was such a great trip! Dan and Travis were amazing and patient with our family as this was our first ever kayaking trip. There was so much beauty around and the Mangroves were really amazing!

Brooke_H 

 

 

 

Relax with the guidance of your tour guide to explore the St. Pete Beach area at nighttime

Photo Credit- Sharkey’s Glass Bottom Tours

Tour Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 1 Hr And 15 Mins     Check Rates Here

Relax with the guidance of your tour guide to explore the St. Pete Beach area at nighttime. 

You’ll ride on a glass bottom kayak with LED lights and enjoy a unique perspective of the water.

The tour begins paddling through the waterways in St. Pete Beach.  Your guide will lead you through the waters under the dark sky and provide information about the ecosystem.  

You’ll stop at a mangrove island for bird watching in an area home to hundreds of birds. 

Next, you’ll pass by the lighted Pinellas Bayway Bridge, a place that some call Selfie Heaven.

Continuing on, you’ll paddle in the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve as you look for fish through the clear bottom of your ride.

As you paddle through shallow areas, your tour guides will illuminate the sea floor to help you see conchs, crabs, starfish, and other sea life. 

You’ll even get to toss out fish food to attract the local catfish who come up alongside your kayak.

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

  • Kayak and paddle
  • USCG-certified life vest and whistle
  • Fish food to feed the hundreds of fish that are conditioned to eat when they see the kayaks

Here is what a past guest said about this tour:

We had a blast! The staff was amazing! We have never done this before so it was super exciting and cool. Loved seeing the fish so close along with the huge clam and conch!! Highly recommend it! Great picture too!! Thank you!! Pennsylvania Patti 🙂

Patti_B 

 

 

 

This Treasure Island Glass-Bottom Kayak private rental is a great way to experience sea life in its natural habitat.

Photo Credit- Sharkey’s Glass Bottom Tours

Tour Rating: 4.5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    Length: 4 Hours     Check Rates Here

This Treasure Island Glass-Bottom Kayak private rental is a great way to experience sea life in its natural habitat. 

Cruise on a kayak while looking through the see-through bottom at the wonders underneath your ride.

You’ll have a chance to explore Buccaneer Island and John’s Pass Island.  Kayak through a mangrove tunnel as you admire the wildlife around you.

Watch Cormorants diver underwater for food and see ospreys fly from the mangrove trees. These waters are home to dolphins and manatees who make their way through the channel.

Take time to explore, fish, swim, or snorkel as part of your time on this kayak adventure.

This adventure is a private rental and not a guided tour.  You can bring your own cooler for food and drinks or pack your fishing poles to enjoy fishing upon arrival at one of the islands.

✅ What Is Included With This Tour?

  • Glass bottom kayak
  • Beach chairs 
  • Use of snorkeling equipment

Here is what a past guest said about this tour:

We went through the tunnel in the first island and seen some large blue crabs and exotic fish. We kayaked around toured all 3 islands and had more than enough time to sit and soak up the sun. This is a nice little get away and involves some muscle use, which we thoroughly enjoyed! Thank you to Sharky’s for all the details and information on other excursions as well. They were so friendly to work with.

Kenisha_S 

 

 

 

Kayaking the waters of Tampa Bay is a magnificent way to appreciate the area’s natural beauty.

Things To Pack For These Tampa Kayak Tours

 

Bug spray: Mosquitoes and bugs can be an annoyance – bug spray can help keep pests away from you.

Hat: Keep the sun rays off your head with your head covering of choice.

Sunscreen: Do your skin a favor and keep it safe from the harshness of the sunlight.

Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the light reflecting off the water.

Swimsuit: You’ll get wet on the water, so be prepared with proper attire for your day on the water.

Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential.  You’ll expend quite a bit of energy as you paddle your kayak.

Here are some essentials for your trip!

Never hit the water without your sunscreen.  You’ll want at least SPF 30 to protect from the Florida sun.

 

Sun Bum Sun Screen 

 

If you’re planning a boat cruise, quick drying beach towels are an essential item to pack.  Unlike regular towels, quick drying beach towels are made from materials that dry quickly, meaning you won’t have to worry about them getting wet and heavy as the day goes on.

 

 Quick Drying Beach Towel

 

Bring back memories from your underwater adventure with this waterproof camera!

Waterproof Camera

 

Keep your phone dry and take beautiful pictures under water with a waterproof phone case. 

Waterproof Phone Case 

 

Best Kayak Tours In Tampa- Final Thoughts 

 

As you can see, kayaking tours of Tampa Bay are a magnificent way to appreciate the area’s natural beauty with an up-close look. 

Paddling on the water is a perfect way to explore coastlines and mangrove forests and view the diversity of marine life and wildlife that make their home in this part of Florida.

Book one of these amazing tours today.  These are perfect for your small group and all nature lovers, and you’ll surely want to book a return trip afterward!

Booking a last-minute trip to Tampa?  

If so, we have you covered.  Here are some top recommended tours and hotels!

Top Hotels & Accommodations in Tampa

Courtyard By Marriott Tampa – (Budget To Mid-Range Stay In Tampa)

AC Hotel By Marriott Tampa Airport – (Top Rated Hotel Near Tampa Airport)

Hyatt House Tampa Airport/Westshore – (Highly Rated Hotel With Bar & Pool)

Hotel Haya – (Best Rated Hotel Near Ybor City)

Looking To Get Around In Tampa

Check out rental car rates here! 🚗

 

 

Travel Resources

 

Book Your Next Trip!  For Accommodations and short-term rentals, I recommend Booking.com as they are the best in the business when it comes to rates and places to stay.

To Book Activities- For activities, I suggest booking with Viator, they have thousands of 5-star activities to choose from!

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