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Kayaking the Flagler County Wilderness Area

Melissa Clauson & Joe Woodbury
Melissa Clauson & Joe Woodbury

The east coast of Flagler County is a transition zone, a boarder between the land and a wilderness area that stretches out eastward along the County’s nineteen miles of beach. It offers unobstructed views out to the horizon along with many spectacular sunrises. This is where, when the surf conditions allow, we go to play.   

The Atlantic Ocean truly is a wilderness, and should be treated as such. Ocean kayaking may not be for everyone, but we wanted to include it in the blog because it is one of the more adventurous things we do to stay in shape and connect with nature within Flagler County.

We’ll go out for about one hour using our sit-on-top kayaks. Getting knocked off your kayak by a surprise wave is always a possibility and climbing back on a sit-on-top is much, much easier then getting back in a sit-in kayak. Also, sit-in kayaks require the use of much more gear, such as a spray skirt, paddle float, and bilge pump.

We launch south of Jungle Hut Park because the coquina rock formations rising out of sand there and to the north pose a threat to the hulls of the kayaks. (These formations are very unique, very beautiful. If you have never seen them you should do so. The best place to view the coquina is beachside, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.) 16th Road E is a good launching point for ocean kayaking because you can park close to the beach and it’s a short trip to the water.

We’ll only venture out if the winds are ten miles per hour or less, which is an indicator of how rough the water is going to be. Once on the water, paddling out past the breaking waves can be a challenge and is a matter of timing. You wait for the smaller, close-in swells to break about twenty feet in front of you, and then you paddle like crazy to get through this zone. Next up are big swells that break further out. You definitely don’t want one of these crashing down on you, but the good news is that they aren’t as frequent as the smaller, closer-in waves.

Once you’ve paddled out past the breakers it’s time to pause, relax, and enjoy the view. Being out in the ocean on a kayak around sunrise or sunset is an experience not soon forgotten; seeing a sea turtle come up for a breath of air or watching as a pod of dolphin swim by is also an occasional delight. One of the sweetest experiences can be to simply lie back in your kayak and let the ocean gently rock you like a baby in a cradle as you gaze up at the blue sky and clouds floating above you. (Just make sure you don’t drift back into the surf zone where the waves are breaking!)  

Those of us who live and work on the east coast of Flagler County are truly blessed, we are able to visit one of nature’s great wild places and still be home for dinner! If you decide to give ocean kayaking a try, be sure not to go alone, wear a quality lifejacket, and leave a float plan with friends or family. For precise paddling instructions, give the folks at Ripple Effect Ecotours a call.

Be safe and live healthy, there’s so much more to discover!!