By Jennifer Hoard
Vero Beach has many great kayaking and standup paddle board (SUP) spots. Here’s just a few of our favorites on the Indian River Lagoon.
North of downtown Vero Beach is Wabasso Causeway Park, an easy fifteen-minute drive up U.S. 1 from downtown Vero Beach. The causeway connects the mainland to Orchid Island, which offers great kayaking and paddling for most wind conditions. There are spots to easily launch your kayak or paddle board on each end of the bridge, and it is possible to protect yourself from the wind, no matter what direction it’s headed. There is plenty of parking, even if you launch near the boat ramp, and also nicely maintained restroom facilities. If you paddle south on the west side of the Indian River, you’ll be in relatively shallow water. The water is plenty deep for kayaks and paddle boards, but not for most motor boats. Thus, a lot of marine life and aquatic birds hang out in this area. It’s common to see turtles popping their head out of the water and manatee cruising through the area.
Next on the list is MacWilliam Park, which is on the northeast side of the Merrill P. Barber Bridge and popular with the locals. Parallel park your vehicle at the launch, unload your gear, then park nearby. Restroom facilities were recently built near the baseball diamond, just a short walk away from the launch site. Another plus, you will quickly arrive at the Intracoastal from this launch site. On the north side of the Barber Bridge is a manatee zone. This means slower speeds for motorized vessels and smaller boat wake for paddlers and kayakers to endure. There are also a lot of small mangrove islands that dolphin and manatee are often seen swimming around. There are a few narrow cuts and skinny water between the islands, which makes kayaks and paddle boards the perfect fishing vessels. The islands also provide wind protection.
Last, but certainly not least, is Round Island State Park, located seven and half miles south of the 17th Street bridge on A1A. Round Island West, or Riverside, has become a natural sanctuary for manatee. You are almost sure to see manatee and stingrays. The launch site is one of the best in the area. You can drive your vehicle right up to the water and unload. The launch itself has a sandy bottom, which is nice on the feet, and water gradually gets deeper. There’s ample parking and clean restroom facilities. Again, there’s lots of protection from the wind among the mangrove islands and a lot of shallow water. While fishing is not allowed within the park, it is an easy paddle out of the park to the Intracoastal, or across the river for redfish and trout.
Sea Sup Go Paddle & Surf Company, conveniently located in Vero Beach, offers kayak and paddle board tours at each location. Tours can be customized to fit your needs and interests. Kayak and paddle board delivery is also an option for those who prefer self-guided tours. Call the shop to learn more: (772) 217-8708. Website: www.SeaSupGo.com.