Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures

  • Most Popular Tour!

Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour

Quick Details

  • Hour Glass Duration: 2 hours
  • Tags Category: Kayak

Clock Time of day: Morning, afternoon, early evening

Discover the Hidden World of Sarasota’s Mangrove Tunnels on Kayak

Paddle with us through otherworldly mangrove tunnels, which are home to a plethora of birds and all sorts of marine life. Keep a lookout on the open water portion of the tour for a chance to encounter manatees or bottlenose dolphins up close!

Launch Location Instructions

  • The nearest address for the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour launch is 190 Taft Drive, Sarasota, FL 34236 .
  • Once you arrive at this location, enter through the gate into Ted Sperling Nature Park.
  • Find a parking spot, and ask any staff member for Almost Heaven!

Common Questions

  • Chevron down What should I bring?
  • Water! The Florida sun is hot, and we want you to stay hydrated. Help us reduce plastic waste by drinking from reusable containers rather than single use plastic bottles if possible!
  • We can provide small drybags to protect phones, cameras, car keys, etc.
  • Chevron down What should I wear?

Most people wear t-shirts, shorts, and/or bathing suits. During the winter months, we suggest a light wind breaker or a sweatshirt depending on the temperature and the wind conditions. The most important thing is to be comfortable. As for shoes, wear something that you don’t mind getting wet — flip flops, water shoes, or old sneakers are ideal.

  • Chevron down Will my tour be cancelled if it rains?

Your safety is paramount, so cancelling a tour depends on the weather conditions. If the forecast is a light drizzle, then the tour launches at the regularly scheduled time. If there are thunderstorms or any hint of lightning, then the tour is postponed or cancelled. If we cancel the tour due to weather and you are unable to reschedule, we issue a full refund.

  • Chevron down Is the kayak tour okay for children?

The Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour is ideal for all ages. For children, we have smaller life vests and lighter paddles. We also suggest tandem (double) kayaks, so that an adult can sit in the back of the same kayak with his/her child and help with paddling.

  • Chevron down Is the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour suitable for new kayakers?

Yes, this tour is great for beginners as well as advanced kayakers. We start each Sarasota kayak tour with on-water paddling instructions for those who need it. Then your guide provides feedback and help along the way.

  • Chevron down Do the kayaks fit all body types?

We have kayaks for all shapes and sizes. We assist you with finding the right kayak at the time of your tour. Our goal is to make sure that you are comfortable and enjoy your adventure.

  • Chevron down What is the water like on this tour?

This tour is in the swallow, protected waters of Sarasota Bay, so there is limited influence from wind and currents. The water is usually very clear, which makes it great for viewing sea life.

  • Chevron down Will I see manatees and dolphins?

They are wild animals, so it’s always a matter of luck, but manatees are frequently seen from March through December, when the waters are warm enough for them. The remaining months of the year, manatees can be seen, but it is less frequent. Dolphins may be seen year-round as they feed and travel through the surrounding mangrove islands and channels.

  • Chevron down Are there alligators on this tour?

No… We get this question all the time! There are no alligators on the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour. However, our Myakka River Kayak Tour has lots of alligators.

  • Chevron down What kinds of birds are visible on this tour?

Depending on the time of year, a wide variety of tropical birds can be seen on the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour: ospreys, great blue herons, little blue herons, white egrets, yellow-crowned night herons, snowy egrets, little green herons, tri-colored herons, black-crowned night herons, cormorants, pelicans, and occasionally wood storks, roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets, bald eagles, white pelicans, and that’s only to name a few.

  • Chevron down What types of live shells do we see on the tour, and can I take them home?

There is an abundance of live shells on this tour that can easily be seen in these shallow protected waterways: the Florida horse conch (the state shell), lightning whelks, true tulips, banded tulips, clams, scallops, and crown conchs are quite common. In addition to these beautiful live shells, you can also view sea stars (starfish), sea urchins, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and many more invertebrates. We stress the word “live“ because the shells are living creatures. They’re protected and must stay in the water and can’t go home with you. But you can certainly enjoy them on your tour.

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THE ULTIMATE KAYAK ADVENTURE!

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Sarasota Kayak Tours (A Complete Guide + Best Tips!)

This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy .

If you’re lucky enough to be planning a vacation in or around Sarasota, Florida, Sarasota kayak tours are an experience you won’t want to miss!

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about planning a guided Sarasota kayak tour as well as what you can expect during your paddle.

From choosing a kayak touring company, determining what to wear, and anticipating the excursion, we’ll walk you through the entire kayaking tour experience from start to finish.

Stick around to the end of the article for our complete photo story that highlights what Sarasota kayak tours are really like!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.   For more info, see disclosure.

Check out our awesome guide to Sarasota Kayak Tours from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!

Table of Contents

Sarasota Kayak Tours

Sarasota kayak tours are by far one of the best things to do in Sarasota !

Why, you may ask?

Because Sarasota kayak tours are an exciting way to experience the beautiful turquoise-blue ocean water, explore Sarasota’s unique mangrove tunnels (that you won’t find anywhere else!), and to check out the Florida wildlife.

As you kayak, it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins, manatees, and other native seabirds frolicking in the crystal-clear waters of Sarasota Bay.

Likewise, getting to paddle through the tangled-up mangrove forest while spotting ocean life such as oysters, fiddler crabs, sponges, and shells is a magical experience you won’t soon forget.

Additional planning tip: The Sarasota and Siesta Key mangrove tunnels are located within Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach Nature Park. (Ted Sperling Nature Park on Lido Key, 190 Taft Drive, Sarasota)

Mangrove tunnels started off as man-made ditches that were dug years ago as a way to control mosquitos. They eventually turned into ‘mangrove arbors’ with mangrove trees forming a canopy of branches and leaves over their exposed root systems.

Now an important component in preventing erosion and protecting Florida’s shoreline, the mangroves also serve as nurseries for many types of fish and oysters and are rookeries for many different species of birds.

And psst…check out our related posts before your trip:

  • 6-Day Sarasota, Florida Vacation Itinerary + Tips for Visiting
  • 11 Exciting Things to do in Sarasota With Kids!
  • Our Complete Florida Vacation Packing List

Choosing a Sarasota Kayak Company

The first thing to note is that not all kayaking companies and excursions are created equal and that it is important to do your research ahead of time.

In order to have fun (and be relaxed), you’re going to need to feel safe and well attended to by your kayaking guide.

This involves trusting that the kayaks and equipment are in good working order and that the guide is knowledgeable of the local area as well as attentive to the needs of the group.

Though there are a few different companies that offer kayaking through the Sarasota mangrove tunnels, we choose to book our experiences through Kayaking SRQ .

Owned and operated by Florida natives to the Sarasota area, the staff and crew at Kayaking SRQ are dedicated to providing you with a safe and enjoyable experience, as well as guarantee a great time!

Additional planning tip: Kayaking SRQ has several options for guided tours, as well as kayak rentals and paddle board rentals. The mangrove tunnel tour is our personal favorite!

Make a Reservation

Due to the popularity of kayaking in Sarasota, I recommend making a kayaking reservation for the date and time of your choice as soon as you know your Sarasota vacation itinerary .

Guided kayak tours depart at scheduled times and usually fill up on each trip, especially during peak seasons.

Making a reservation will ensure that you get the number of people that are looking to kayak scheduled for the time you’d like to go.

It is important to note that if the weather is not suitable for kayaking during your reserved time (thunder and lightning, storms), you will be asked to rebook or cancel your reservation.

Likewise, if you’re kayaking during the hottest months of June, July, and August, be sure to consider ways to  beat the Florida heat  in order to best enjoy your paddle.

Additional planning tip: Typically those ages 2 and up can take part in a guided kayak tour.

Depending on age and experience, the kayaking company will help you decide on whether a single or double kayak is best for you.

Children who cannot paddle on their own will most definitely have to ride with someone who does.

Check out our awesome guide to Sarasota Kayak Tours from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!

Sarasota Kayak Tours: The Experience

When kayaking in Sarasota, you will first present to a designated meeting point where you will likely sign a safety waiver and ensure that you have paid for your experience.

(SRQ Kayaking= 2 hour guided tour; $59 single kayaks, $118 tandem kayaks-price is for 2 people.)

This is a great time to ask questions and to apply your first layer of sunscreen.

Afterward, staff will lift the kayaks into the water one-by-one as individuals and partners board either a single or tandem kayak. Your feet will get wet during this process as you must first step into the water before getting into the kayak.

Once everyone is in their kayaks, the tour guide will review some basic paddling techniques, as well as go over general safety guidelines.

Additional planning tip: You have the option of either wearing a lifejacket or of having it located next to you in the kayak.

Beginning the Paddle

Typically, Sarasota kayak tours begin in Sarasota Bay.

The water is deep here, but the bay is protected from large waves and the wake of other boats.

Is it not uncommon to spot dolphins and several different varieties of sea birds while kayaking in the bay. This is also a great time to become comfortable with the kayak and to work on your paddling skills.

As you paddle your way to the mangrove tunnels, your anticipation will build as you see the gigantic forest of tangled roots and shrubs.

Though the tunnels are wide enough for kayaks to easily glide through, you will need to strategically maneuver and steer your way through as the tunnels are winding, versus a straight shot.

In addition, occasionally there is a low-lying branch that may require you to duck your head.

Though there is not a lot of time to stop and take photos, I do recommend that you pause long enough to take pictures and to admire the intricacy of this beautiful ecosystem.

After your make your way back to the original landing area, you will be given assistance in getting out of the kayak before the crew takes it out of the water. Once again, your feet will get wet as you disembark.

Check out our awesome guide to Sarasota Kayak Tours from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!

Do you Need Experience to go on a Kayak Tour?

There’s no need to worry if you’re kayaking for the first time!

Sarasota kayak tours take place in protected bodies of water in order to avoid waves and rough seas.

Being that each guided tour begins with a short paddling lesson, technically, no previous experience is needed.

Having been new to kayaking at one point, I will say, however, that kayaking does indeed take some physical strength, coordination, and endurance.

If you are questioning whether or not you have what it takes to be able to keep up with a group, I suggest riding tandem with someone else so that the work of paddling is shared.

On our most recent Sarasota kayaking tour, our 9-year-old son rode tandem with my husband, our 11-year-old son rode tandem with me, and our 14-year-old son paddled alone in a single kayak.

Your kayaking guide will indeed check in with you from time to time to be sure that you are getting the hang of things if you are worried about paddling alone.

Check out our awesome guide to Sarasota Kayak Tours from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!

What to Wear Kayaking

When considering what to wear kayaking, we recommend the following:

  • Shorts and a t-shirt or tank top.
  • Sandals or shoes that can get wet (and that dry fast).
  • Sunglasses and a hat (sun protection is key).
  • Wear a light jacket or sweatshirt when kayaking in the early morning or evening, or if the weather is cool.
  • Life-jackets are provided by the kayak company.
  • No need to bring a swimsuit or swim towel unless the company advertises swimming as part of the excursion.

Sarasota Kayaking Tips

  • If it is especially hot outside, be sure to bring along a bottle of water.
  • Know ahead of time if your kayaking reservation is private or combined with a larger group.
  • Have a backup plan in the case of inclement weather.
  • Listen carefully to the safety and paddling tips from your kayak guide as they really do make a difference.
  • Sit upright with good posture while kayaking. Likewise, stay alert to your surroundings.
  • Pace yourself when paddling but be sure to keep up with the group.
  • It may go without saying, but hold on tight to your camera, smartphone, or GoPro so that it doesn’t fall into the ocean (the kayak company is not liable).
  • Tip your kayaking crew!

Sarasota Kayak Tours: Photo Story

Check out our awesome guide to Sarasota Kayak Tours from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!

Is there anything that you are still wondering about when it comes to Sarasota kayak tours? I’d love to help answer your questions! Jen

If you like our article on Sarasota Kayak Tours , click here to check out our Related Posts:

Sarasota, Florida:

  • Complete 6-Day Sarasota Vacation Itinerary For Families
  • 11 Best Things to Do in Sarasota While on Vacation

Siesta Key, Florida:

  • The Ultimate Siesta Key Vacation Itinerary + Tips For Your Visit
  • 11 Best Things to Do in Siesta Key While on Vacation
  • Siesta Key Parasailing: A Complete Guide for Kids & Adults

The surrounding area:

  • 11 Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island
  • 11 Fun Things to Do in Tampa Bay (+3-Day Itinerary)
  • The Ultimate Orlando Family Vacation Itinerary

* Before leaving, be sure to check our  Travel Resources Page  to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Jen Brommer is a family travel expert. She has been featured as an authority on several notable travel websites and is a member of the Family Travel Association (FTA), Midwest Travel Network, and TravMedia global media network.

A prominent content creator and influencer on Instagram, Jen has over 150K unique monthly blog readers from countries all over the world. She has spent the last 16 years planning fun, and hassle-free family vacations for her family of 5.

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What a great idea! I have recently re-discovered my love for kayaking and hadn’t thought about doing it while we visit new places. What a great way to discover and explore a new place… and get some exercise. I love this idea. Hopefully, we get down to Florida and can do this with the kids. Thank you for sharing! – Linzey @thefamilyfuntour

Yes, it seems like the ‘thing to do now’ at water-based destinations 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Ah this looks so wonderful. We have had many great adventures with kayaks in Florida and can’t wait until we can again!

I have a friend who is in Florida right now using this recommendation of the mangrove tour. I can’t wait to hear if they love it just as much as we did!

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  1. Leader In Kayak Eco Tours In Sarasota

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  2. Sarasota Kayak Tour Lido Key

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  3. Kayaking Sarasota Mangrove Tunnels & Lido Key Beach

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  5. Sarasota: Lido Mangrove Tunnels Kayaking Tour 2022

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COMMENTS

  1. Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures

    Kayak Eco-Tours in Sarasota, Lido Key, & Siesta Key, FL. View Tours. Sarasota's Original Kayak Eco-Tour. Most Popular Tour! Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour. From $59. Paddle with us through otherworldly mangrove tunnels, which are home to a plethora of birds and all sorts of marine life. Encounter manatees and bottlenose dolphins up close! Learn More.

  2. Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour

    Discover the Hidden World of Sarasota’s Mangrove Tunnels on Kayak. Paddle with us through otherworldly mangrove tunnels, which are home to a plethora of birds and all sorts of marine life. Keep a lookout on the open water portion of the tour for a chance to encounter manatees or bottlenose dolphins up close!

  3. Coastal Kayak Adventures

    Explore the Mangrove Tunnels. Our expert guides will take you on a two-hour tour that leads through Sarasota’s exotic mangrove tunnels, and if time permits a stop off at a secluded beach where you can take a quick dip in the bay or do a little shell hunting. Book a Tour Today! learn more. Book your tour now! Rental Kayaks are available too!

  4. Kayak Tours

    From $55.00. Sarasota. Ages 4+. 4 hours. Nature Preserve Mangrove Tunnel Adventure Sarasota. Explore The Nature Preserve & Mangrove Tunnels and relax or play on the sandbars & coves! We include chairs, lifejackets and snorkel masks with rental. Book Now. Learn More. THE ULTIMATE KAYAK ADVENTURE!

  5. Sarasota Kayak Tours (A Complete Guide + Best Tips!)

    Sarasota kayak tours are by far one of the best things to do in Sarasota! Why, you may ask? Because Sarasota kayak tours are an exciting way to experience the beautiful turquoise-blue ocean water, explore Sarasota’s unique mangrove tunnels (that you won’t find anywhere else!), and to check out the Florida wildlife.