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Florida Paddle Destinations

In general, the Beneath the Surface podcast is often about boards, boats, and boatloads of memories. But what good is a paddle board without a place to paddle it? In this episode, Corey and Sean give us a hearty rundown of some of their favorite places to go paddling in Florida.

Broken down by types of waterways—from springs and rivers, to bays and bayous—and also broken down by types of paddlers—from hard-charging sadists to chilled out recreationalists, this list is a bona fide primer on great places to paddle in The Sunshine State.

As Sean says, “I find that there are many levels of paddlers. We are lucky here in Florida because there is so much variety and different types of water. Florida has something for every paddler.”

From the Florida Panhandle to Key West, the Suwannee to the Apalachicola, there are plenty of world-class paddling destinations in Florida’s waters for both experienced and novice paddlers alike. Enjoy.

COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.

Who's In The Episode

Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.

Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.

“Here in Florida, we have bayous, we have bays, we have the Gulf, we have rivers, we have lakes. So really the best thing about paddling is that there’s something for everybody.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography

“Whether it’s river paddling or lake paddling or ocean paddling, it’s the personal experiences that make most of these things for us.” -- Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE

Links From The Episode

Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations

Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations

I find that there are many levels of paddlers. We are lucky here in Florida because there is so much variety and different types of water. Florida has something for every paddler.- Sean Murphy

Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations

Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations
Beneath the Surface Podcast Episode 15: Florida Paddle Destinations

Show Notes

  • 00:00:00 Intro
    Welcome back to the latest episode of TripAdvisor, er, the Beneath the Surface podcast.

  • 00:01:00 Candy Addict
    Fun fact: Sean has a candy problem. But as he tells his wife, ‘better candy than crack.’ Sean actually overcame a drug and alcohol addiction and has been sober for the last 10 years. So, let’s give a warm round of applause for that killer accomplishment. And if you ever see him in person, maybe buy him some Skittles.

  • 00:02:05 Where Do You Guys Paddle?
    This might come as a surprise, but Corey and Sean are often asked their recommendations on places to paddle. Crazy, right? Corey’s response is first always about what kind of paddling they want to do. After all, it’s a pretty broad question. Someone who wants to surf vs. someone who wants to leisurely float and fish simply aren’t going to like the same destinations. So, Corey knows that before you can ever tell customers where to look, you’ve gotta know what they’re looking for.

  • 00:03:20 Wouldn’t This Be a Great Spot to Paddle (If We Could Just Paddle)?
    When you own and operate a paddle board business, turns out a lot of your paddling trips are oriented around things like marketing and product research. You’ve got “10,000-pounds of camera gear” and limited time to enjoy the place for a leisurely paddle. But then again, maybe Corey and Sean just aren’t the kind of people who can slow down and relax, anyway.

  • 00:04:00 Let’s Start Listing Some Things
    Time to dive into the good stuff. First things first: paddle your own paddle!

    “Whether it’s river paddling or lake paddling or ocean paddling, it’s the personal experiences that make most of these things for us.” -- Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE

  • 00:04:30 Rivers
    Did you know Florida has one of the most extensive natural springs and river systems in the country? In other words, yeah: it’s a paddler’s paradise. Some particularly great ones:

    • Turkey Creek in Niceville: a great, consistent family spot.
    • Apalachicola River: a killer 150-mile multi-day paddle that starts on the Chattahoochee River in GA, then turns into the Apalachicola River in FL. (Pro-tip: Try to avoid incessant rain storms, like Corey and Sean didn’t.)
    • Suwannee River: famous river in Florida where you can camp and do a multi-day trip.
  • 00:09:00 Journey Trips
    Paddling, building camp, taking your time. River trips are great because you can turn them into multi-day experiences.

    “The coolest thing about paddling a river is doing journey trips.” - Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE

  • 00:10:30 Jeans & Boots
    Another thing about paddling rivers is that they don’t have to be your typical ‘board-shorts and swim’ type of vibe. They can just as easily be done with regular clothes like jeans and boots. Just don’t fall!

  • 00:11:40 The Dead Lakes
    Interested in paddling in a truly spooky place with black water, cypress trees, and gator-infested waters? The Dead Lakes in Wewahitchka is your best bet. The upside is that it’s out of this world beautiful, a place where you can paddle among the canopies of drowned trees.

    “Thousands and thousands of cypress trees. And black water.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography

    “Like something from Jurassic Park.” - Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE

  • 00:14:27 Crystal River
    If paddling with manatees and among incredibly clear waters is more your speed, head to the Crystal River. You can also paddle from here into the Gulf, where it’s shallow with grass on the bottom, and it’s awesome.

  • 00:15:00 The Keys: One of the Most Iconic Paddles in Florida
    In a word, this place is downright iconic. When people think of paddling in Florida, they think of the Keys. It can be windy, it can be tough. But it’s stupid pretty, with clear waters, forgotten shipwrecks, and places to go spear fishing and lobster fishing right off your board.

  • 00:17:30 Something For Everyone
    When it comes to paddling, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. There are different ability levels, different types of waterways, and different goals always involved. It’s this type of DIY, tailor-your-own-experience that makes it such a special activity.

    “Here in Florida, we have bayous, we have bays, we have the Gulf, we have rivers, we have lakes. So really the best thing about paddling is that there’s something for everybody.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography

  • 00:19:33 One Underrated Gem?
    Miami. Yep, you read that right. And not just the Biscayne Bay or the ocean. We’re talkin’ about the Miami canals, baby—one of Corey’s favorite underrated paddling spots, where you can paddle among mansions and cruise ships.

  • 00:20:33 The Best Kind of Exercise?
    When you don’t even realize you’re exercising. Which, for Sean, is exactly what paddling is all about. You can take leisurely paddle trips where priority numero uno is simply exploring and taking in the sights, and guess what? You’ll lose those love handles without even meaning to.

  • 00:21:23 The Springs
    Unique to Florida is the vast system of freshwater springs that exist throughout the state. Morrison Springs, Vortex Springs, Wakulla Springs, they’re all spectacular. Gin-clear water, always cold, and most of them turn into rivers that you can paddle out of.

  • 00:23:21 Paddle Surfing
    The great thing about Florida for paddle surfers isn’t just the vast amount of coastline. It’s the waves. They’re the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. But justttt right. Goldilocks waves.

  • 00:24:33 Outro
    Quick call out to the audience here: If any of you guys have favorite local paddle spots, definitely let us know. Florida is near and dear to our hearts. And we hope you enjoy the spots we’ve recommended. Peace!

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