One of the great things about stand up paddleboarding is the freedom that it gives you to explore new places. For this reason, road trips in Florida are extremely popular among paddleboarders. There is nothing more exciting than throwing your boards in your car or van and setting off for a coast tour, with lots of paddleboarding to look forward to.
It is a common sight to see surfers and paddleboarders with their camper vans. You don’t need your van to store paddleboards since you don’t need your own boards. Some fantastic shops allow you to hire paddle boards and take them out for the day. This means you can jump in your car and go.
So if you were lucky enough to be planning a paddleboarding road trip in Florida, what are the most unmissable places to stop off at?
Assuming that you would be starting at the top of Florida, I recommend heading straight to St Augustine. A haven of wildlife and culture, this is a fantastic place to begin your road trip off. The beaches include Vilano Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Anastasia state park, the Matanzas Inlet, Butler beach, and more. They are glorious, and you can hire a paddleboard easily here. Not only this but St Augustine was nicknamed ‘the ancient city,’ which reflects how much history and culture there is to learn about while exploring here. This is a fantastic way to begin your road trip since it immerses you into Florida’s past and present.
The A1A Scenic and historic coastal byway are one of the most scenic roads in Florida. I would recommend driving down there. Part of a road trip is traveling and the places you stay. So I would get a playlist ready and travel down the A1A as you explore St Augustine.
Leaving St Augustine, you could either drive down Florida’s east coast or travel to the west coast and head to St Petersburg. St Petersburg would be a great next stop after St Augustine, home to one of the most spectacular waterfronts in the state. Moving from a historic landscape into an artsy one, St Petersburg hosts the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum and the Chihuly Collection of mind-blowing glasswork on display. I recommend trying to time your trip with one of the many events St Petersburg hosts, such as pride celebrations, sand sculpting competitions, concerts, music festivals, and much more.
From there, you can venture down to the white sand paradise of Fort Myers. This stunning little piece of Southwest Florida is a genuinely gorgeous insight into life in Florida. It is a very safe and family-friendly location, with beautiful neighborhoods and communities to welcome you to the area. Its beaches are well known for their beautiful shells and wildlife, such as sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and sand dollars lurking in the sea. I would definitely recommend taking some snorkeling gear out on your paddleboards! Even strolling through the town, you can expect to be amazed by quaint and colorful buildings lining the streets, making up a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Suppose you have chosen to make your road trip in just a car. In that case, you will have no trouble finding places to stay in this area, as there are many- however, if you are coming during the school holidays, make sure that you book in advance, as this is a popular location across America.
Reluctantly leaving the beautiful roads that run down Florida’s west coast, I would head down to Naples. Perched on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is a real gem and one that I really would not advise you to miss. Depending on your budget, some shops may seem a little high-end. Still, it is always fun to wander around an area as sophisticated as this and maybe even just grab a coffee. The natural beauty of Naples, in my opinion, is not even the high streets, golf courses, or fancy cars you may see driving past, but the sunsets that turn the sky into a brilliant orange, the calm seas, the untamed tropical wildlife in the Everglades, and its islands, which you could take a day trip out to see. It is a magical place and would be a great way to finish your time on the west coast.
Naples then provides the perfect route to head to Miami beach. Miami is often described to be two beaches that are worlds apart. If you are shattered from your trip, then north beach is a family-friendly, quiet haven. If, however, you want to see some rooftop bars, sweet roller skating, and feel a genuine city buzz, then South Miami is the place to be. Both have beaches suitable for paddleboarding, but generally, it depends on what you would like to do in your time away from the water to decide on which part you would like to commit to.
Depending on time and budget, that may be an excellent place to wrap up your trip and head back home. If you have a little more exploring left in you, south of Naples lies the Florida Keys Scenic Highway, which is 110 miles of ocean-surrounded road stretching out in front of you. This is a fantastic introduction to the Keys and its natural beauty, and driving down this stretch of road with crystal clear waters on either side of you is genuinely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So as you can see, paddleboarding opens doors to explore some of America’s most naturally beautiful areas, as well as vibrant and bustling cosmopolitan cities such as Miami. A road trip across the state allows you to see the natural mixture that Florida offers, all centered around the best sport in the world.