Location: St. Andrews State Park, Florida
Access Point: 30.132863, -85.731338
Length: All Day
Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, Florida, is amazing! With its crystal clear water and beautiful beaches, this gem is a must for anyone seeking a great kayak adventure. Our plan for the day was to launch from the boat dock at St. Andrews and paddle to Shell Island, less than a mile away. It was planned as an easy day of fishing and playing on the beach. However, the paddle to and from Shell Island was more difficult and dangerous than we anticipated. A strong tide and massive boat wakes made for a challenging day. However, once we reached Shell Island the cool ocean water and soft sandy shores made the effort all worth it.
Kayaking to the island early in the morning was a good choice. We left the boat launch around 9:00am and enjoyed our time on the smooth waters of Grand Lagoon. The water was crystal clear making the spotting of sea creatures easy. A few dolphins followed us for a while and plenty of pelicans and other large shore birds made their presence known. The sun was already intense, but the cool water made the temperature bearable.
Canyon and I had a great time fishing at this spot. The inlet is mostly shallow and with a soft sandy bottom it makes wading out to the deeper water to catch a hungry fish fun and cool. There seems to be two ways to beat the summer heat in Florida… stay in-doors or stay in the water. I would much rather stay in the water which makes St. Andrews Island State Park a must do!
As the day progressed and the water-way become more busy, we decided we had better begin our journey back across the inlet to Grand Lagoon and then back to the boat launch. After one failed attempt of paddling across the inlet because of an enormous ocean vessel cranking out a five foot wake of watery destruction, and dodging kayak eating WaveRunners, we made it across the channel. At this point the tide was pulling very hard and the waves were crashing against the bank. The outgoing boats were cutting the corner very close making for a whirlwind of dangerous waves and currents. Getting out of our kayaks and pulling them along the shore was probably our first mistake. Having the boats parallel the shore was a recipe for disaster. With one mighty wave our 80 lb kayaks plus our gear were heaved like rag-dolls upside down and sent crashing to the sandy shore. With gear floating and some sinking, anything not tied into the kayak was instantly swept away. Pulling our boats to the shore and grabbing whatever gear we could, we counted up the losses. Most importantly we were safe and our boats were fine. Everything we take on trips are strapped down. However, one fishing pole was missing and Annette’s new shirt had disappeared from view. Luckily I spotted the GoPro camera before it made its way to a watery grave.
Much like life, we had to go about things differently to make it back to the dock. Instead of going parallel with the waves, we had to face the waves head-on. This was a great life lesson… sometimes trying new techniques and seemingly doing things opposite is what brings success. That is to say, trying to escape the waves created an upside-down experience. Going directly into the opposing force, although difficult was the way in which we found success! We highly recommend kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL!
Safe travels – Troy