Kayaking SRQ offers paddle board rentals at Ted Sperling Park on Lido Key. 

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Paddle boarding is one of the most popular outdoor activities for people looking to cruise Sarasota Bay. Looking to get started paddle boarding? Consider taking a day trip to the mangrove tunnels at Ted Sperling Nature Park on South Lido Key, a hidden gem for paddle boarding experts and beginners alike.

The winding, shaded paths of mangrove trees allow a perfect mix of relaxation and exercise that also helps you beat the heat. Rent a paddle board from Kayaking SRQ right at the park, or bring your board and oars if you're already a seasoned pro.

Kayaking SRQ offers two-hour guided paddling tours through the mangrove tunnels, hidden among the resort properties of South Lido Key. A guided tour is $55. If you're looking to explore on your own, paddle board rentals start at $45 per board for up to four hours. Tour guides will offer a paddle boarding crash course prior to the tour, so no experience is necessary. Here's more of what you need to know:

Where

Ted Sperling Park, located on the southern end of Lido Key, 190 Taft Drive, Sarasota.

When

While guided tours begin every day at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., there are optimal times to go if on a solo excursion. The best time depends on the tides. Low tide will create shallow water, with mangrove branches exposed and difficult to navigate through, while high tide might not allow enough space. You may also want to consider going early in the morning or evening, to avoid the afternoon sun. Check Kayaking SRQ's website for the best times.

What to Bring

If you own a paddle board and oars, be sure to bring them along. If not, boards and oars will be available for renting, along with life jackets and dry bags for your valuables. Be sure to wear a swimsuit and pack sunscreen, water-safe shoes, sunglasses, a hat and a towel and dry clothes for after. Beginners beware. You may lose your balance and get wet.

Red mangroves are the most well-known in Florida, especially along the Gulf Coast. 

What You'll See

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, three mangrove species are native to Florida, protecting our Gulf Coast from erosion and maintaining healthy water. The mangrove tunnels of South Lido were originally paths dug to control the local mosquito population. Now, the mangroves serve as breeding grounds for a variety of marine life, including local fish and crustaceans and birds looking to nest.

You may find starfish soaking up the sun on an exposed branch, or some minnows and snook weaving in and out of the underwater branch maze. As you paddle out into Sarasota Bay, there is a good chance you'll spot some dolphins playing at sunset, or even a slow-moving manatee between April and December.

Enjoy peace and quiet paddling down the tunnels, with only the sound of your oar gliding through slow water. And don't worry about getting lost; the paths are easy to navigate and always lead back to main routes. Unless, feeling lost in nature's beauty is the goal.

For Kayaking SRQ paddle board rental and tour information, click here or call (941) 799-1863.

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