Looking for something unique to do in Sarasota, Florida? Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Kidding Around’s Melanie loves getting on the water with a paddle in hand, kayaking the Lido Key mangrove tunnels Of Sarasota, Florida. This year she spent her birthday on the water of Sarasota Bay in Florida. I spent most of the trip on the water, and she had the chance to tour the unique mangrove tunnels that exist among a manatee playground.
Don’t miss our Guide to Discovering Sarasota, Florida, for more info about the area.
I think it’s fair to say that you don’t ever truly appreciate a place you’ve lived until you move away from it. Then, the difference will become apparent no matter where you move to. I love living in the Upstate and having access to the mountains and all the adventure the Upstate offers. With that said, this is the farthest I’ve ever lived from the ocean. There were five different homes in four other states, and I could always smell the salt in the air; I was so close to the sea.
If you are a loyal Kidding Around Reader, you may have noticed something about me. To quote a wise Disney Princess, “The Sea, It Calls Me.”
What are Mangrove Tunnels?
Heading home this past fall to Florida was the first time I’d done so as an adult tourist. I discovered this place I lived, worked, and played in for over a decade of my life – was hiding a bunch of beautiful things I never knew existed. These mangrove tunnels were a perfect example. For years I played on the shores of Lido Key, within view of them, and was clueless of their existence.
You might be wondering – “What are the mangrove tunnels?”
Mangroves are tropical plants that have adapted to the loose, wet soils of a body of saltwater and the tidal surges that frequent Lido Key. There are more than 50 types of mangroves worldwide, but just three call these waters home. Mangroves provide so many benefits to the environment where they exist. They offer a place for fish to hide and raise their young away from the larger predators of the bay, they provide erosion control to the land, and they even bear fruit that you can eat if appropriately prepared.
The Army Corps of Engineers carved out these particular tunnels to help with mosquito control. At one time, a freshwater lake trapped between the bay and the island was a vast breeding ground for mosquitoes. So bad that residents, fed up with the nuisance, poured diesel fuel into the lake to poison it. That was a poorly thought-out plan, and that’s when the government got involved. The tunnels were carved out to allow the high tide to come in and mingle with the freshwater. Decades later, I’m happy to report I didn’t encounter a single mosquito!
Are you traveling to Sarasota, Florida? Don’t miss our extensive guide to the area, full of things to do, places to stay, and where to dine.
Kayaking Sarasota Bay
This was my first time kayaking with a tour group, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, our tour guide with Kayaking SRQ was a tremendous wealth of knowledge, and he accommodated both novice paddlers and those with experience. He knew the spots where the manatees liked to hang out and about the different wildlife we encountered on tour. While out that morning, a rare moment without my children by my side, I just kept thinking about how I couldn’t wait to bring them to this magical place.
To see more from our trip, check out our Sarasota, FL story highlight on Instagram
Booking A Kayak Tour Through The Mangroves
Taking this tour isn’t a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. I don’t usually insist readers do something, politely suggest, but you really should add this to a bucket list if you have one.
Making the reservations is accessible through the Kayaking SRQ booking website. You can reserve and pay for your trip all at once, and you have the option of single or tandem kayaks. You’ll need to bring sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat to be comfortable. You don’t need to have a bathing suit on, but you should wear clothes you are comfortable getting wet, as well as water-friendly shoes.
The tour company provides wet bags for you to store your keys and devices in. If you want to use your phone for photos, I recommend purchasing a waterproof phone pouch to make things easier. Manatees pop up out of the water, and you seldom have time to grab your phone out of a wet bag to capture a photo before they’ve retreated below the surface again.
*Complimentary tickets were provided in partnership with Visit Sarasota County for the purpose of sharing the area with readers. The words and opinions are those of our writer and authentic.
2 hour guided kayak tour
Children 12 and under – $49
Age 13 to Adult – $59
Are you looking for more fun on the water of the Florida Suncoast? Then, check out our guide to the nation’s top-rated beaches that call the area home!