Adventurers, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts are all drawn like magnets to the Daytona Beach area, and it’s understandable why! With innumerable marshes, springs, lakes, rivers, creeks and inlets, the region is brimming with fun-filled water activities.Explore the waterways, soak in some fresh air, and get to know Florida’s wild side at any one of these area locations:
This Florida State Park features the largest spring on the St. Johns River! The beautiful Blue Spring is crystal clear and 73 degrees — ideal for taking a seasonal swim or paddling through on a kayak or canoe. What makes this park a real standout is its designated manatee refuge, which also serves as the winter home to a growing population of West Indian manatees. You can rent your canoe or kayak and launch right on-site, and afterward enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, walking trails and more.
Found in the heart of Ormond Beach, this 150-acre park offers five canal-connected lakes and ponds, all easily accessible for kayakers and canoers via six free launches. No boat rentals are available, so those looking to take to the waters will want to bring their own vessels and gear. For those who do, the abundant rewards include a diverse aquatic ecosystem filled with great fishing and bird-watching opportunities. Off the waters, the recreational opportunities available at Central Park include miles of boardwalks and paved walking/jogging trails, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, gazebos, picnic pavilions and tables, and grills.
Cracker Creek is a historic outdoor venue located right on the banks of Spruce Creek in Port Orange, just south of Daytona Beach. The venue offers several types of personal boating options, including tandem kayaks, single kayaks and canoes — all ideal for exploring the creek and soaking in close-up views of the landscape and wildlife.
This DeLand park covers nine acres, some of which straddles the shoreline of Cypress Lake. Surrounded by shady cypress trees and other lowland vegetation, the small, quiet lake offers regular chances to see wildlife like turtles and egrets, and a free concrete boat ramp and canoe/kayak launch make it easily accessible to paddlers. Other park features include a picnic pavilion, barbecue grill, basketball court and playground.
Situated an easy 45-minute drive from the heart of Daytona Beach, DeLeon Springs State Park offers a natural escape from life’s busyness. After exploring the park’s historical ruins and displays, guests can rent paddleboards, kayaks or canoes at the concession area. The park's paddling trail provides access to the 22,000-acre Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, with an abundance of lakes, creeks and marshes to explore. Bonus: you can make-your-own pancakes onsite at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House.
Experience the more secluded side of wild Florida at Hontoon Island State Park, located six miles west of DeLand off of State Road 44. Soak in peace and solitude on this island situated in the St. Johns River, which is only accessible by private boat or park ferry. Hike through the park, learn about Native American history on the island, observe the abundant wildlife, or rent kayaks or canoes to paddle around the river. The park's ferry operates daily from 8 a.m. to one hour before sunset.
Found just off A1A along the Ormond Loop in Ormond Beach, the one-acre Highland Park may be small, but it straddles the Halifax River and offers easy access to Bulow Creek. Canoers and kayakers who launch from the park’s free boat ramp can paddle for miles up Bulow Creek, a designated Florida paddling trail. Along the way, they’ll see the scenery transition from broad tidal marshes to a maritime forest while venturing alongside Bulow Creek State Park and the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Historic Site. The abundant wildlife adventurers may catch along the way includes deer, owls, raccoons and an array of bird species.
Tucked away in a rural setting between New Smyrna Beach and Osteen, this 64-acre waterfront park offers a free launch site for personal watercraft like canoes and kayaks. From there, paddlers can explore the 1,000-plus-acre lake’s waters, along with enjoying fishing and nature viewing. Back on land, the park offers nature/horse trails, boardwalks, camping, a playground, a volleyball court, and pavilions with picnic tables and grills.
This is Ponce Inlet’s largest park, with approximately 41 acres stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Halifax River. Sitting at the heart of the park is the Green Mound State Archaeological Site, an ancient Indian midden, as well as an ancient live oak tree estimated to be more than 350 years old. While there is plenty to explore in the park, you can venture beyond its boundaries via the kayak and canoe launch. Note that unlike some of the other places listed here, no rentals are available at Ponce Preserve — you must bring our own or rent from a local company.
Covering more than 1,600 acres in Port Orange, this scenic park offers a canoe/kayak launch that gives on-water adventurers access to the Spruce Creek Paddling Trail, a 16-mile-round-trip paddle along a tree-lined creek. Along the way, canoers and kayakers can see salt marshes, prehistoric sites and an array of wildlife. Off the water, the park features three-plus miles of nature trails, a 536-foot boardwalk, a picnic area, a camping area, a playground and an observation tower that overlooks a nearby marsh area.
Tiger Bay State Forest is located in the central section of Volusia County, approximately 12 miles west of Daytona Beach, and easily accessed off of West International Speedway Boulevard. Although there are no on-site rental companies, the state forest’s canoe and kayak launch allow you to explore the wetlands, two lakes and the main water feature for which the park is named: Tiger Bay. If you prefer to stay on dry ground, horseback riding and bicycling are also popular recreational activities at Tiger Bay State Forest.
This park and former Native American dwelling ground is a local favorite for camping, fishing, boating, bird watching and more. Tomoka State Park protects a variety of wildlife habitats and endangered species, such as the West Indian manatee — and you can get a close-up look at it all from your own canoe or kayak or by renting one at the Tomoka Outpost camp store inside the park. Floating along the Tomoka River, you’ll also have an incredible vantage point to observe the best vistas of “old Florida” and some of the 160 species of birds that have been spotted in the area.
In addition to Daytona Beach’s famous 23 miles of white-sand beaches, the city and its surrounding regions are a nature-lover’s paradise. With so many great parks and launch sites, it can be hard to choose just one to explore — the only solution is to stay another day! For a complete list of kayaking and canoeing options in the Daytona Beach area, view the full line-up of launch sites and rental companies here.