Kayaking Riverbend Park: Discover the Freshwater Oasis of The Palm Beaches

November 16, 2021

Saltwater is usually in the South Florida spotlight, but Palm Beach County has freshwater gems opposite its coastline that are well worth exploring.

The Loxahatchee River flows just over 7.5 miles from Riverbend Park in Jupiter to the Atlantic Ocean. At the park, you can rent a kayak and paddle the tannic, coffee-colored waters, taking in the natural beauty of the Sunshine State. 
Here are five reasons to spend a day at Riverbend Park and a few tips to keep in mind as you plan your paddling excursion.

Aerial view of a group of kayakers on a river

5 Reasons to Kayak Riverbend Park 

1. Explore the freshwater habitat 

If you live on the coast or are planning a beach vacation, it can be easy to focus on the sun and surf. But a day on the Lox — one of just two National Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida — can give you a new perspective on what the state has to offer. You’ll be surprised by the picturesque yet often overlooked freshwater habitat.

2. See wild animals 

In the water, keep an eye out for alligators, river otters, turtles and fish like mullet and bass. On the banks, you may see gopher tortoises, deer, turkey and raccoons. And don’t forget to look up: In the canopy of cypress trees, you can find owls, ospreys, egrets and even the occasional bald eagle flying overhead.

3. Practice your photography 

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to get great shots on the Lox. With the contrast of the green cypress trees, blue sky, brightly colored kayaks and dark water, even smartphone shutterbugs will walk away with frame-worthy photos. (Of course, you’ll want to be extra careful not to get your phone or camera wet.)

4. Relax in nature 

Enjoy the sounds of water bubbling over rocks and swooshing around corners as you drift along with the current. The fresh air and calming scenery allow for a peaceful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

5. Get some exercise 

Although currents are mild, you’ll still need to put your arms, back and core to work on your way upstream (especially if you’re short on time getting back to the park). You’ll feel accomplished once you’re back on land and may even be sore the next morning — a subtle reminder of your day on the Loxahatchee.

People kayaking on the Loxahatchee River

Kayaking the Loxahatchee: Logistics & Tips 

There are two official access points at which you can put in your own kayak or other personal watercraft along the Loxahatchee River: Riverbend Park and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. At each location, there’s also an option to rent paddling equipment.

Jupiter Outdoor Center at Riverbend Park 

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
From this outfitter, you can rent single or tandem kayaks as well as canoes and stand-up paddleboards. Rental durations range from two to eight hours, and if you’re not an experienced paddler, you can book a guided trip.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park 

Open Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
From the park, you can rent single kayaks, tandem kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and even small motorboats. Rentals have a two-hour minimum. There are no guided trips available.

Here are some additional tips for kayaking the Loxahatchee:

  • Stay hydrated: Bring a bottle of water with you and a snack if you need it. 
  • Time your trip accordingly: Be sure to start heading upstream before you hit the halfway point of your rental time. Jupiter Outdoor Center recommends that for every hour you paddle out, you plan on an hour and 15 minutes back. For example, if you book a three-hour rental, kayak downstream for the first hour and 20 minutes and leave yourself the remaining hour and 40 minutes to get back upstream. 
  • Guard against sun exposure: Even though you’ll be covered by shade trees most of the time, the Lox has some sunny stretches. Wear a hat and sunscreen to avoid sun damage. 
  • Be prepared for bugs: If you’re kayaking near sundown, especially in the summer, bring mosquito repellent to keep the bugs at bay.
sponsored content
sponsored content
Photo of article author Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith is an Orlando native who attended the University of Florida and currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is an avid diver, backpacker, and adventurer whose work has been featured in outlets including EcoWatch and Scuba Diving, Islands, and Climbing magazines. Although she no longer lives in the Sunshine State, Melissa still makes a point to visit and dive The Palm Beaches a few times a year.