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Have paddle will travel: The best way to explore North Florida

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This time of year, the afternoons in North Florida can be rather hot and steamy. But the outdoors are calling so forget the indoor air conditioning and experience nature’s cool breezes and tranquil waters with a kayak tour. Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach are filled with great kayaking destinations where you can cool down, sit on a deserted sandy beach and take in some wildlife. Sunset kayak tours are a great way to enjoy the evening sea breezes as well.

If you want to learn a little bit about the history and the wildlife of the northern shores, a guided tour is the way to go. Kayak Amelia offers the Kingsley Plantation Kayak Tour on Fort George Island through the Timucuan Preserve. You’ll learn about the history of the island and if you’re lucky, dolphin and manatees may join you on the tour. You can dock your kayak on a deserted beach for a late afternoon picnic and enjoy an educational stroll through Kingsley Plantation's historical grounds. It’s a workout and a history lesson.

For those looking to really get away from it all, the bar hopping tour is the one to enjoy. But don’t be fooled, this kayaking excursion hops along the numerous sand bars where you can swim, have a picnic and explore the undiscovered shorelines. This tour is also best for picking up a few souvenirs – seashells. The tour leaves as the tide goes out exposing the day’s seashell bounty.

Amelia Island Kayak offers a number of scenic tours along the Amelia River. The half-day tour gives kayakers a chance to experience the region’s scenic waterways with excellent bird watching venues, so be sure to bring along a waterproof camera. After a long day of paddling, you’re rewarded with a stop at the Fernandina Beach marina, where you can stroll through historic downtown or enjoy a cool drink while watching the sunset.

For the truly adventurous, both Amelia Island Kayak and Kayak Amelia can also arrange special overnight excursions.

Kayaking on the water is really one of the best ways to experience the treasures of the First Coast. You can up close and personal with manatees and egrets, stake a claim to your own deserted beach, or simply while away the dog day afternoons.

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