Best Places to Kayak on Anna Maria Island

Kayaking on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island offers pristine beaches, stunning sunsets and plenty of outdoor activities. Among those, kayaking stands out as a favorite activity and an immersive way to explore the island’s surrounding waters. There are several great places to kayak (and paddleboard) off Anna Maria Island, and it’s a great way to see a different perspective of the island’s natural beauty! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, we’ve compiled some of the best places to kayak on Anna Maria Island, as well as where to rent gear or book a tour from.

Leffis Key Preserve and Sarasota Bay

Escape the crowds and head to the quiet southern end of Anna Maria Island to experience the tranquil waters of Sarasota Bay. Kayaks can launch from the Coquina Beach South Boat Ramp located across the road from Coquina Beach, where ample parking is available. From here, you can paddle along the edges of Leffis Key Preserve to the north, where you are likely to spot crabs, fish and starfish in the shallow waters among the mangroves. Sarasota Bay opens up to the southeast with several smaller islands to explore, while cruising under the Longboat Pass Bridge gives you a great view of the sunset over the ocean at the edge of Coquina Beach.

Neal Preserve

Situated along Manatee Avenue just outside of Anna Maria Island, Neal Preserve is made up of 120 acres of pristine mangrove forests andKayak tour at night on Anna Maria Island tidal marshes. This area is known for great bird watching and dolphin sightings. There is also a short trail with educational signage and an observation tower in the preserve if you want to take a break from paddling to learn about the wetland habitat and the indigenous peoples who originally inhabited it. AMI Paddleboard offers kayak rentals and guided tours here, with a convenient location just on the other side of Manatee Avenue.

Robinson Preserve

Just a short drive from Anna Maria Island, Robinson Preserve is a kayaker’s paradise. This 600+ acre coastal preserve features mangrove tunnels, salt marshes, and tidal ponds, providing an ideal environment for exploration. Paddle along serene waterways, keeping an eye out for native wildlife such as dolphins, manatees, and various bird species including herons and ospreys. The winding waterways of this nature preserve are a great way to experience the coastal environment of Florida as it looked pre-development. Check out Kayak Jack’s for guided and self-guided tours of Robinson Preserve, where tour guides will provide equipment and useful knowledge about wildlife and paddling in tidal areas.

Perico Preserve

Located just off the Palma Sola Causeway on Perico Island, this nature preserve is a hidden gem. After this area was acquired as farmland, there was a conscious effort to restore it to the natural mix of habitats originally found here, from coastal wetlands to scrub hills. Perico Preserve has been designated as a bird sanctuary, so you are likely to spot a number of species, from herons and egrets wading by the shore to eagles soaring overhead. The kayak launch has a small parking lot and is found off Manatee Avenue opposite 107th Ct. NW. From there, head north under the bridge to reach the preserve. Overall, this is one of the most peaceful preserves in the area, with easy access to the larger Robinson Preserve if you want a longer paddling journey. 

Palma Sola Bay

Palma Sola Causeway Park is a great place to launch kayaks to explore Palma Sola Bay. Along Manatee Avenue between Bradenton and Anna Maria Island, there are numerous places to park right off the road, making this an easy stop on your way to or from the island. After launching at the park, it’s a short paddle northwest of the fishing pier to find the kayak path that will take you deep into Robinson Preserve. Or you can head out to explore Palma Sola Bay, where neighborhoods and mangroves cluster around the edges, and dolphins like to play. Kayak rentals can be booked ahead of time and picked up directly at the park from Surferbus.

Kayak Rentals and Tours

  • Beach Bums AMI offers a variety of kayak rentals which can be delivered to your vacation rental or launched directly from BayfrontKayak and paddleboard rentals on Anna Maria Island Park in Anna Maria. They also lead a guided kayak tour exploring the waters around Anna Maria Island and out into Tampa Bay, with a stop for swimming at a sandbar where you are likely to spot manatees and dolphins.
  • AMI Paddleboard rents out kayaks and paddleboards for 1 to 7 days at a time and will deliver to a spot of your choosing on Anna Maria Island. This company also offers a popular daily eco-tour of Neal Preserve, where your guide will take you through mangrove tunnels and point out local wildlife like dolphins, crabs and seabirds.
  • AMI Clear Kayak Tours provides a unique experience open to all skill levels. Paddlers will launch clear tandem kayaks from Holmes Beach and explore the seagrass beds and mangrove habitats around Anna Maria Island. The clear kayaks provide a window into the underwater world, with the chance to spot marine animals, fish and crustaceans. Tours run in the afternoon, at sunset, and after dark, where kayaks are lit from below!

Ready to embark on your kayaking adventure? Book your vacation rental on Anna Maria Island and experience the beauty of Florida’s Gulf Coast firsthand. Start planning your paddling getaway to explore this amazing island!