Kayaking St. Petersburg, Florida's Fort Desoto Park
The Topwater Kayak Outpost at Fort Desoto Park offers canoe and kayak rentals to both newbies
and experienced paddlers. You can rent sit-on-top kayaks, which are easier to get on and off, or sit-in kayaks with
recessed cockpits that lower your center of gravity. This increases stability and tends to keep you from getting as
much water splashed and dripped on you. I've used both kinds and I can tell you that they both work just fine.
Kayaks are much more stable than they look and are much easier to paddle than canoes. The advantage that a canoe
has is cargo capacity. You can fit a large cooler and a couple of backpacks into a canoe, but your space is more
limited in a kayak. But you don't need big coolers or backpacks here.
Rental Hours (call in advance to verify):
Open at 9am, weather permitting
Last launch Mon-Fri 3:30pm
Last launch Sat-Sun 4:30pm.
All boats must be returned by 5:30pm.
Closed on Christmas Day.
Topwater Kayaks accepts VISA &
Mastercard credit cards in addition to cash and local checks. Call for current prices. Price
info in photos on this page may be out-of-date.
They do ask that you not take their kayaks into the Gulf of Mexico. This means you'll need to stay
in the sheltered backwaters of the park. You can also paddle to Shell Key to explore that undeveloped and
uninhabited barrier island.
I recommend, at a minimum, that you bring the following items with you on your kayak trip:
Sunscreen (put it on before you get in the kayak!)
Cold water or sports drink in a small personal cooler.
Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
A watch, so you know what time to return the kayak.
Bring a camera and cell phone in a waterproof bag.
Water shoes (plan to get your feet wet).
Appropriate clothing for the weather (plan to at least get your feet and your seat wet!)
This is a great place for your first kayak experience. You can kayak in the protected backwater,
where mangroves block the wind, or you can venture out into the more open areas, weather permitting. The Kayak
Outpost asks that you not take their kayaks into the Gulf of Mexico. Of course if you are an experienced kayaker
and bring your own kayak, you can go wherever you want to. If you are really up for an adventure you can
paddle to Egmont Key. It does not look very far to Egmont Key, but because of the deep water and strong currents
and fast moving tides, the water in the Egmont channel can get quite rough, even with a light wind. Also, the huge
ships move very quickly through the channel, so you have to be really careful. They cannot stop for a kayak.
Consult with some Florida kayaking books for advice on paddling to Egmont Key.
Topwater Kayak brings a new fleet of 84 boats to Fort Desoto and all are top-of-the-line models
from Oldtown and Ocean Kayak.
Above are two tandem kayaks on the beach. The blue one in front is a "sit-in" and the orange one
behind it is a "sit-on-top."
Above: this is the view from the "office" at the Kayak Outpost. Not bad eh?
Photos of one of our kayak trips in Fort Desoto
More photos of the rental kayaks at Topwater Kayaks
in the park.
Florida Beaches photos, personal reviews and video clips on BeachHunter.net
Caladesi Beach - If you are looking for other islands in the area with great beaches and
kayaking, have a look at Caladesi Island State Park beaches. Caladesi is near Dunedin and has no cars and no
roads. You have to take the ferry, or use your own boat to get to the Island. Caladesi Beach is 3 miles long and is completely undeveloped.
For something different try Daytona Beach, which is a three hour drive across the state on the Atlantic coast.