Canoeing and Kayaking

Florida has a variety of award winning paddling trails on the state's abundant lakes, rivers, and meandering coastline.

It's easy to get kids interested in canoeing or kayaking. Children possess a curiosity that, with a little bit of encouragement and a sturdy canoe or kayak, will make them want to get on the water and explore! They may spot an otter scooting through the water, an osprey diving for a fish, or perhaps an alligator basking in the sun. Bring along a small dip net and jar for kids to explore nature up close.

Be sure that everyone wears a life jacket while on the water; children less than six years of age are required to wear a life jacket at all times. Know your limitations and keep trips with children short. The average paddler will cover two miles in an hour, but this can be much slower for kids. Stay well-hydrated in hot weather and head for spring-fed rivers during the heat of the summer. Swimming and drinking plenty of water will ensure summer fun.

Bring binoculars, sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water and snacks, and you're ready to go on an adventure that you and your children are not soon to forget!

Follow these five tips to have a safe and fun paddling trip:

1. Wear your lifejacket - Parents should set the example by wearing a life jacket all the time; children under six years of age are required to. Make sure the fit is right.

2. Trip preparation and planning - Be prepared. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Be watchful for hazards and aware of changes in weather.

3. Cold water safety - Know the water temperature before you set out and plan accordingly. Dress appropriately, bring plenty to eat and drink.

4. Rules of the road - Learn the rules about sharing the water with other boaters before you launch. Be aware of your surroundings and know who has the right-of-way.

5. Safety check - Knowing the waters you are about to launch in is important. If you are in unfamiliar waters, learn the dangers and if you are capable maneuvering them, or be with someone who knows. If you're unsure, don't chance it, or if you're in doubt - get out!

For more paddling and safety information visit, Top Ten Safety Tips For Paddlers and Wear It Florida.

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