Kayaking in Venice, Florida
One of the main attractions in Venice, Florida, is what is on Harbor Drive. Not only are there beautiful homes, but once you reach the local airport, it is beach after beach after beach to go to. They are all created equal and spacious, but Sharky's with its very long pier is like a magnet. With the coconut palms surrounding it close to the shore, the great moderately priced food, and the scenery, it is a favorite destination for locals and visitors. However, the ocean is usually not a great place to kayak or use stand-up paddle boards.
Luckily, just a mile down the same road at the end of Harbor Drive is Caspersen Park. It is a beach destination with a more rocky look, and beaches literally go on for several miles. Plenty of walking trails to explore and adjacent to a large boat canal where many boats travel. A lesser know secret to visitors is that the park also has its own kayak launch site on the other side of the ocean (see map). It is not used often and allows kayaking to the large Red Lake, minutes away. Red Lake is freshwater and teaming with fish that frequently shoot out of the water. One can easily spend an hour or more exploring the various canals but one can become a bit disoriented, so look for landmarks as you kayak. Red Lake is also a great fishing spot but only from a kayak, as there is no boat launch there.
The key thing to know is that once you launch, go to the left down the narrow canal that opens up to an area you might think is Red Lake. It isn't, but just keep going down the narrows a bit more until it fully opens up to Red Lake. Now, if you stay to your left, you will go around a bend and down more narrow canals, eventually, you will pass a pedestrian bridge. If you keep going, you can actually reach the boat channel and ocean.
How to Kayak From Caspersen Park Launch Site to Red Lake
The North Jetty
Another great kayak place is called North Jetty, where the main Venice boat channel ends. From Hwy 41, take the Albee Farm exit until you reach a T in the road (after crossing a boat channel), go left until the end. You will pass Nokomis Beach. At the end, where the parking lot is, the kayak launch sites are all to the left. You can rent kayaks also.
Kayaking in the area is a bit more diverse. It is not uncommon to pass a dolphin while paddling down the main channel or having a pelican fly within six feet of you. Wildlife is more interesting for sure. However, on a busy boat day, you will encounter many more waves. The channel is quite wide and in places shallow to just 2-3 feet. Unlike Red Lake, this water is more salty since the opening ends in the ocean. You might even see an alligator roaming about. There are many more beautiful homes all around the waterway that goes in many directions.
A word of caution: at times, depending on the tides, the current can be quite swift and strong. If you feel you are being pulled down the main channel leading to the ocean, veer off to the shoreline where currents are not that strong. Also, when crossing the channel, give yourself ample time to cross ahead of oncoming boaters.
While there is a main boat or kayak launch site, there are several more along the shoreline to the left to launch your kayak. The main site is where the currents can be tricky and fast. The further away you are from the main boat channel leading to the ocean, the more calm and weaker currents are.
In Venice, there is no need to travel far to kayak or find fresh water.