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Kayaking the Waterways Near Hollywood (Miami)

Listed under Kayaking in Miami, United States.

Photo of Kayaking the Waterways Near Hollywood (Miami)
Photo by Hal Peat
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When bodies of water intersect with urban build-up, it can create an unusual mix of nature and humanity..  So on the lakes that dot the north end of the Florida coastal town of Hollywood, just north of Miami, you find the skyline and the sounds and surfaces all mirror what can happen when not-so-civilization and the elements rub shoulders.  The lakes here are actually inland waters that indirectly connect to the Atlantic just the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway.  Thanks to some protection from the state and county, the Hollywood Lakes retain a lot of their calm, openness and surrounding vegetation.  It creates a space that suggests how south Florida may have been a century or even less ago. 
One way to get an extensive kayak experience here is to launch from the boat ramps at the marina landing on the south end of North Lake, which is the middle lake within the Hollywood area.  In the early evening hours of a clear spring day, there are quite a few ocean-going small yachts and powerboats anchored nearby, and also along the private docks that fringe the lake, but not much actually out on the water.  You have a huge empty lake to cross which has some small chop if the wind comes up, but is easy to paddle across within a few minutes.  Expect to see a wide range of residential architecture along North Lake, while along the eastward horizon are the towers of the larger hotels facing the ocean.  You make an almost ninety degree turn heading north onto a brief stretch of the Intracoastal, where you may encounter some currents pushing southward, and need to be aware of vessels and ferries heading in either direction.  You quickly reach the channels that lead into West Lake, and you enter a more wild and secluded area – no motor vessels allowed here, and few structures visible, with just huge clusters of mangrove lining the twisting routes.  The waters here are brackish and dark to view, but are home to marine life such as mullet, some of which may break the surface as you paddle across the lower end of West Lake, cross under the bridge at Sheridan Street and make a stop in the midst of the north end of the lake.  

Paddle this entire route with outfitter Atlantic Coast Kayak, which leads regular guided outings here and supplies the top-seated single and double kayaks, knows the area and conditions, and supplies the wine and cheese to savor at mid-point as the late evening slips into a night still lit by an almost full moon.  The entire trip is about two and a half hours.

Hal went with Atlantic Coast Kayak.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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