Kayaking on Anna Maria Island
Kayaking is fantastic on Anna Maria Island all year!
Whether you prefer to fish from your kayak or just enjoy the local marine life and shorebirds while getting some great exercise kayaking around Anna Maria Island, Florida is a must-do activity! The waters surrounding Anna Maria are abundant with endangered animals like manatees, and if you look up you might see a bald eagle too.
This Insider Guide to Kayaking to the area surrounding Anna Maria Island, Florida is the ultimate guide whether you are a beginner or advanced kayaker. You can carve out your perfect visit for kid-friendly experiences wading in the water or enjoy lots of fishing action and bounty that the Gulf of Mexico waters are known for.
If you need to rent a kayak for the day, week or longer head over to our Things to Do page here to rent single or double kayaks, and life jackets needed for a safe day on the water.
If you are looking for a great kayak charter through the mangroves and nearby Preserves you can book a tour with Happy Paddler is a great local option for a fantastic kayak tour with a knowledgable guide.
Kayaking is one of my favorite things to do and it's Anna Maria Island Beach Life at its best!
Anna Maria Island
Use our Kayak Map from our Insiders Guide to Kayaking
Anna Maria Island Florida
When kayaking around Anna Maria Island always keep a sharp eye out for markers and stay well away from boaters. The best thing about the island is its shallow waters that allow kayakers to get up close and personal with marine life above and below the water's surface.
Always check the local weather and radar maps. The weather can change quickly in Florida especially in the summer months where thunderstorms are abundant.
Take safety precautions wear a life jacket, bring a whistle, waterproof flashlight as well as wear a hat, sunscreen and bring plenty of water it gets hot out there!
Can Anyone Kayak in Florida?
Florida Kayaking Requirements and Regulations:
You do not need a boaters license to operate a non-motorized kayak in Florida.
All vessels are required to have a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device for each person on a boat, kayak or other waterfcraft vessel.
Personal Floatation Devices (PDFs) must be:
The appropriate size
In serviceable condition
Age Rules for Life Jackets
Children who are 6 years and under must wear a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal floatation device while onboard a vessel under 26 feet in length when underway.
Throwable Type V Personal Flotation Device
All vessels that are 16 feet in length of longer require a throwable Type IV PDF that's immediately available.
What type of Light is required on a non-motorized Kayak?
Kayakers are required to carry a white light while kayaking. The kayaker must display the light if another vessel approaches, to avoid a possible collision. A flashlight is suitable.
These lights must be displayed:
Between sunrise and sunset
During periods of restricted visibility
When other vessels are approaching
What type of Sound Device is required on a non-motorized Kayak?
Kayakers are required to carry a sound-making device that can be heard for at least one-half nautical mile when the kayaking.
Kayakers usually choose a small and compact whistle attached to a PFD in a place that’s easy and quick to reach for their sound device.
Are Visual Distress Signals or Flares required on a non-motorized Kayak?
Kayaks less than 16 feet must carry at least 3 nighttime visual distress signals only when on coastal waters from sunset to sunrise.
Kayaks over 16 feet must carry 3 day time and 3 night time visual distress signals at all times.
Alcohol & Drug Consumption while Kayaking
The United States Coast Guard has the authority to board your boat/kayak anytime for any reason. You can be charged with DUI while operating a kayak in Florida. It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
if you are over 21 years and your breath alcohol is at a BAL level of 0.08% or more you can be charged with BUI - Boating Under the Influence.
anyone who is 21 years or younger and has a BAL of 0.02% can be charged with BUI.
first offense - $500 to 1,000 fine and up to 6 month prison sentence
second offence - $1,00 to 2,000 find and up to 9 months prison sentence
All reputable local tour operators and kayak guides will have the proper equipment for all clients.
Kayaking Bimini Bay - Anna Maria Island
I have to admit I'm a bit biased towards kayaking in Bimini Bay. All of our vacation rentals are perched on the deepwater canals that lead into this hidden and protected gem on Anna Maria Island. Dropping your kayak in the canal in your backyard and paddling out to check out the local wildlife is one of my favorite things to do.
There is no easier place for a kayaker or boater to enjoy that is protected from the winds and waves that are sometimes challenging out in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
What's special about our backyard kayaking playground is the abundance of Florida wildlife. Manatees live in the sleepy canals rich in their favorite food, mangroves! Dolphins love the shallow water and canal walls to trap their food. It's common to see both of these endearing animals in Bimini Bay and Tampa Bay.
Because Bimini Bay is so shallow and with a few tiny isolated islands shorebirds love to nest and forage for food. You'll see birds like roseate spoonbills, brown pelicans, blue and red herons, egrets, anhingas and so many more. Be sure to paddle around to the Galatti Marina area. This is a great place to wade in the really shallow water (about 5 inches deep) and look at all of the sea creatures like starfish, crabs, and more. Remember not to disturb them and keep them in the water.
If you are in good shape and if Tampa Bay is calm try paddling out to the beach at Anna Maria City Pier. Pull your kayak up and beach it while you grab a refreshingly cool ice cream at Two Scoops. We've done this and have watched baby sharks and dolphins swim right under our kayaks to get a close and personal look at us. Magical!
Kayaking Map - Anna Maria Island Florida
Kayaking Bayfront Park - Anna Maria
Bayfront Park - Kayak Launch
316 North Bay Boulevard, Anna Maria, FL 34216
On the northern tip of Anna Maria Island sits beautiful Bayfront Park where Tampa Bay converges with the Gulf of Mexico. Views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key on the horizon create the perfect backdrop for your Anna Maria kayak adventure. Be on the lookout for manatees that swim out from Bimini Bay along the shoreline, under the piers. They love to sleep in the protected canals just off of Bayfront Park and Bimini Bay..
Located just off of Pine Avenue in Anna Maria, this is a great place to enjoy once you’re off the water, too… stroll the shops, eat at one of the local cafes, or bring your own lunch and have a picnic right at the park! There are full restrooms, a rinse station, and parking available at the park.
Kayaking near North Shore Fishing Piers - Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island City Pier
Anna Maria City Pier - 100 S Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Latitude: 27.529948 - Longitude -82.726317
AMI City Pier is over 100+ years old and is a great spot for fishing. They sell licenses to fish off their pier as well as a spot to grab a cold beer and a bite to eat if you can't catch your dinner. It's a great come as you are, everyone welcome attitude at this spot. Newly constructed after hurricane Irma rolled by.
Rod n Reel Pier
N Shore Dr, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Latitude: 27.538218 - Longitude -82.741042
Established in 1947 Rod and Reel Pier is located at the northern tip of the island and is a great place to catch fish, watch for manatees, dolphins and more. The building houses the main level bar and upstairs casual dining option. Note: sometimes service can be a bit salty so take it in stride and enjoy the views, breezes and laid back Old Florida vibe.
Kayaking Robinson Preserve - Bradenton
Robinson Preserve - Kayak Launch
1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, Florida, 34209
Home to nearly 700 acres of stunningly restored coastal wetlands, including mangrove forests and tidal salt marsh habitats, Robinson Preserve is on of the best places to kayak in the area to get a glimpse of what coastal Florida looked like before the development boom in the 1950s.
Round out your paddling adventure with a hike along one of the many paths and then climb up the 50+ foot observation tower to take in the phenomenal views of Tampa Bay and the surrounding waterways. Parking, restrooms, and a rinse area are located near the kayak launch at the main entrance to the Preserve.
Kayaking Longboat Pass - Longboat Key
Longboat Key Pass - Kayak Launch
6844 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key 34228
The Happy Paddler Kayak Tours are the only outfitter with easy access to the beautiful waters between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, an area that is locally famous for its clear water and very active marine life. Because it is the only place along an 18-mile stretch of barrier islands where the Gulf meets the Bay, it functions as a major intersection where marine animals gather to feed, mate, and play. Basically it's the ocean's nursery. You can see why it’s so much fun to paddle here!
There are several sandbars and beaches where you can get out and explore, look for shells, go for a swim, and find more fun critters around Beer Can Island, Jewfish Key sandbar and lots more insider hidden spots. There are full restrooms, a hot-water shower, and plenty of parking available. Contact Happy Paddler to book a kayak eco-tour!
Kayaking Bayfront Park - Longboat Key
Bayfront Park Longboat Key - Kayak Launch
4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key 34228
Access to the pristine mangrove islands with a guided kayak tour operator adjacent to Bayfront Park on Longboat Key. In the town of Longboat Key there is only one kayak tour operator to concession on the island! From this beautiful location, paddlers can explore the mangrove fringe, spot wildlife, and paddle around the Audubon Sanctuary Islands for a fantastic view of the birds. The seagrass beds here are phenomenal, giving visitors opportunity to spot manatees, along with loads of other amazing creatures. This area is known to be loaded with fish, which also makes it a fantastic place to spot dolphins! There are full restrooms, a rinse station, and parking available at this location
We've been lucky to have taken the Longboat Key Bayfront Park tour with Happy Paddler and loved watching the anhingas diving under our kayaks using out vessels to help them capture fish. So close you can hear them take a deep breath and dive for minutes then pop up right beside you. Kayaking is the best way to get close to Florida wildlife.
Kayaking Anna Maria Sound
Although there is no launch area in Bradenton Beach if you are lucky enough to rent a vacation rental with a dock on Anna Maria Island, or even in nearby Cortez you can drop a kayak in the Intercoastal Waterway and paddle over to the Bradenton Beach historic Pier area for fishing and also to view the waterfront homes that are gorgeous!
Bridge Street has been completely revitalized and is pretty as a picture boasting mini putting, shopping and dining. Our favorite is the Island Donut Company for freshly made to order donuts after enjoying a game of mini putting. A family must do!
Bradenton Bridge Street Pier
200 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Latitude: 27.465314 - Longitude -82.697204
Established in 1921 The Bridge Street Pier is located towards the south-eastern side of the island on the inter-coastal waterway. This pier is one of the prettiest and is the longest on the island for plenty of room to spread out and fish to your heart's content. It's a great spot for Bay fishing and when you get a hunger on head for a fresh made to order donut at Island Donut Company down Bridge Street off of the pier.
Kayak Fishing - Anna Maria Island
Many people like to fish from their kayaks. We suggest trying some artificial reefs near the island like #7 Bradenton Beach Pier and #8 Coquina Near Shore Reef found on the Manatee County Artificial Reefs Map. Refer to our chart below to take note of the longitude and latitude of the artificial reefs around Anna Maria Island for some great fishing action.!
Check out our Fishing Guide here for more information on fishing on Anna Maria Island.