There are an abundance of fascinating places to explore around Key Largo, and many of them can only be reached by water. Whether you want to get lost for a few hours in the mangrove tunnels or head out on open water to get an up-close look at the reefs, a kayak is one of the best ways to do so. If you’ve never used a kayak before, don’t sweat; they’re a very beginner-friendly watercraft. The staff at a kayak rental can walk you through the steps, but here are the basics of using a kayak to get you started:
At Keys Skis and Adventure, we offer open kayaks, so you’ll want to get ready for a day spent under the south Florida sun. Our kayaks are broader and pretty darn stable, but you’ll want to grab your swimsuit and water-appropriate shoes just in case. Kayaking is a gentle way to explore the waterways, so your hat and sunglasses should be safe. Don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen so you don’t have to turn around mid-journey because of a sunburn.
Boarding The Kayak
While our kayaks are broader, it is possible to tip them far enough that they’ll overbalance and flip. When you’re boarding, keep a hand on either side and try to step in as close to the center as possible. It’s also helpful to keep a lower profile; think about hunching down rather than standing straight up as you board. If you feel unsteady, someone in your group or your kayak rental provider can probably be persuaded to hold the kayak steady as you step in and get situated.
Kayak paddles come with a fin on either end so you can paddle evenly. Multiple strokes on a single side of the kayak will turn the craft, so if you want to go straight, alternate sides with each stroke. There will be footrests along the sides of the kayak; find a way to comfortably rest your feet against them. This will give you a bit of leverage, which will help you row with less strain on your back and arms.
That’s it. Kayaking really is that easy! As you feel how each stroke propels you and shifts your kayak, you’ll quickly learn how to turn or slow. Fortunately, kayaks don’t get going as quickly as motorized crafts, so you can take your time to experiment with different rowing techniques.
Planning Your Trip
Once you have the hang of paddling, it’s time to get started on your adventure. Grab your snorkel gear and head out to the reefs to explore some pretty unique underwater landscapes — North America’s only living coral reefs can be reached easily from Key Largo. Or head toward land and explore the paths created between mangroves. Kayaks are shallow and short enough that they can get into many of the narrower tunnels which are otherwise inaccessible.