Sarasota and its Siesta Key barrier island offer a coastline of sheltered waterways, bays and creeks that are best explored on a kayak tour.
Head to the southern end of Siesta Key and you will encounter Turtle Beach, so named in honor of the crucial nesting sites for loggerhead turtles here. This alone gives you a sense of the delicate natural splendor to be encountered around Sarasota. But the big ferries and the airboats are noisy and invasive, often scaring away wildlife before you’ve had a chance for a closer look. These five fun kayaking tours allow you to fully appreciate the landscape and its resident wildlife around here, whilst being more respectful of these fragile ecosystems.
Kayak Tour Through Sarasota’s Mangrove Tunnels
Setting out from Ted Spurling Nature Park is this hugely popular two-hour kayak tour, which passes through Sarasota Bay on the way to the warren of mangroves. Pass along watery thoroughfares, with the thick nests of mangrove roots on either side, and be sure to keep an eye out for resident species such as manatees and other marine life. This tour has two to three daily departures and you can select a solo kayak, tandem kayak or stand-up paddleboard at checkout. From $57 per person.
Sharkey’s LED illuminated Night Tour on Glass Bottom Kayaks
While most regular kayaking tours around Siesta Key take place in the daytime, when you can see farther and navigate more easily, this guided nighttime tour is an excellent alternative. Much of the area’s wildlife can be more active during the cooler hours of evening after the sun has set and, by using glass-bottom kayaks and LED lighting, you will get a unique glimpse at marine life, such as fish and crabs, during this tour. You can choose between two daily departures, one at night and the other setting out at sunset. From $55 per person.
Guided Kayak Eco Tour
Focusing on seeking out the region’s wildlife, this fun Sarasota kayak tour offers excursions in single or tandem kayaks. Look out for pods of dolphins feeding in the channel and gentle manatees, which are seen most frequently between April and December. You may also spot marine birds, fish, starfish and other fascinating species. Please note that because the kayaks stick to salt water regions, the chances of seeing alligators on any of these tours is slim. From $63 per person.
Sarasota Guided Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour
One of the original kayaking tours around Sarasota and still a hugely popular trip, receiving rave reviews from hundreds of guests, is this two-hour paddle past Lido Key from Sarasota. These tours are suitable for people with all levels of kayaking experience, including complete beginners. As with all tours on this list, equipment, life jackets and your guide are all included in the tour price. Morning and afternoon tours are available daily but are likely to get booked up in advance. From $59 per person.
Private Guided Mangrove Tunnel Tour
If you have a specific destination in mind or would prefer to have a guide all to yourself to match your level of kayaking expertise, it might be worth considering a private tour such as this one. Head to the mangroves or focus more on spotting larger marine life around Sarasota during this two-hour trip. Please note that this tour can only be booked by special request via phone or email. From $94 per person.