Top 10 Miami Kayak Launches

Having fun in Biscayne Bay – ©Jacob Katel. All rights reserved

Miami, Florida is a watery paradise. So grab your yak, get a view from your canoe, or see the sandy shore from your paddle board when you launch out from these top 10 Miami kayak launches.

10. Matheson Hammock Kayak Launch 9610 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156 – You can launch into Biscayne Bay from the grass on the edge of the water east of the marina and head south to explore R Hardy Matheson County Preserve, which is a State Park that is managed by Miami-Dade County, or head out from the watersports parking lot north of it where everybody goes kite surfing. Either way you’ll find shallow seagrass beds (in various states of health and damage) traditionally home to subtropical sea creatures, playful bay chop, fast moving storms, and some of the richest old neighborhoods in Miami history. Recent homesale prices in the area have gone as high as thirty million dollars, and ten million dollar homes are a regularity. Parking here is easy and there is basic launching. $5

9. Watson Island Kayak Launch – 1050 MacArthur Causeway, Miami, FL 33132 – This is the place to launch from if you wanna see Star Island, crystal blue waters, mega mansions, super yachts, party people, jet skis gone wild, and there’s always the possibility of witnessing something crazy and unexplainable. You can also check out Flagler Memorial Island, which just turned a hundred years old. And you can paddle around the bridges of the Venetian Causeway. Next to Star Island are Palm Island, and Hibiscus Island; and the Watson Island Marina is always full of activity. $10

8. Baywood Park Rough Launch – Miami, FL 33138 – This epic little park with free parking just south of the Little River is the perfect access point for traversing that ancient waterway, or fooling around in the Bay, (just watch out for high speed boat traffic), where you can explore deserted islands and experience a variety of wildlife. Free

7. Coral Reef Park Rough Launch – 7895 SW 152nd St, Palmetto Bay, FL 33157 – Sunrise to sunset, the park is open and you can launch from the middle of the big suburban waterway while people walk the paths and play soccer in the huge field. Take note of the many landscape projects along the C-100 Canal. Some say that runoff from pesticide and fertilizer here damages Biscayne Bay. The trail terminates in a dam where there was once a bar where Al Capone used to party. Free

6. Bill Sadowski Park Rough Launch – 17555 SW 79th Ave, Palmetto Bay, FL 33157 – This rough and ready park is great for star watching with the astronomical society, or as an even closer access point to the Old Cutler/ Snowden’s area. This canal was blasted and dredged out of limestone bedrock in 1960 and completed around six months after the disastrous Hurricane Donna flooded much of the area with up to six feet of water until weeks after the storm. Free

5. Ruth Bryan Owen Waterway Park – Coral Gables 33134 – Free parking and easy launch from this gem of a park in Coral Gables and one of the few easy public drops into the Coral Gables Waterway. You can paddle up through Biltmore Golf Course, or head south to the Yacht Basin and into the Bayside Waterfront through the Venice of canals invented by the founder of the University of Miami. Free

4. Old Cutler Kayak Launch – Palmetto Bay, FL 33157 – Get right into the bay at this popular launch point for fishing and birdwatching, which in some ways are one and the same. People regularly pull in snapper, tarpon, barracuda, and even sharks. But watch out for land sharks. You will often see the remnants of a busted out car window from simple thefts in the parking lot. Free

3. Oleta River State Park Kayak Launch – 3400 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, FL 33160 – A people’s favorite in the North Miami Beach area, this landmark park is full of amenities and has been a top aquatic destination for the people of South Florida for decades, and possibly centuries. Whether you are out to go fishing, sightseeing, partying on the sandbar with sometimes hundreds of boaters, taking photos, studying plants, watching for dolphins and manatees, or catching a sunset, it’s awesome. This park is adjacent to the infamous Haulover Inlet, so don’t go too far off course, or face rapid and powerful currents that can pull you out to sea. $10

2. South Dade Marina at Manatee Bay- 54400 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33030 – Welcome to the wild coast of historic Homestead at the southernmost marina in Miami-Dade County; only for sailboats, kayaks, and motor-free launching. Safe parking, even overnight if you want to go for a night cruise. Eco tours, group rates, and rentals, or bring your own. Over thousands of years it’s been sailed around by pirates, explorers, natives, and adventurers and hasn’t really changed all that much in all that time. Varies

Exploring Biscayne Bay after launching out from Chapman Field kayak launch – ©Jacob Katel. All rights reserved

1. Chapman Field Kayak Launch (Currently closed for maintenance as of March 2021) – SW Guadalajara St, Coral Gables, FL 33158 – This park and these waters were home to ancient Calusa/Tequesta villages, a U.S. Army camp and gunnery, and some of the finest ancient Florida waterway examples in the whole Miami-Dade County. A mangrove canal leads to Hidden Lake, which connects via natural tidal inlet to the bay through a hidden mangrove trail. Here is where you’ll find paradise. Free

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By Jacob Katel

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