I stayed at the Marriott Renaissance in Ft. Lauderdale on this trip which is one of my Florida favorites.
From the hotel I walk a couple of blocks down to the water and take the Water Taxi from Stop #7 to Stop #4. This is where the attendant told me would be the best stop to look for Bike and Kayak Rentals. I mark the coordinates on my GPS so I can find it later and head off towards the beach. The only rentals I find are for skates and sail boats. I check my GPS for nearby businesses with "rental" in their name and it brings up "Skate Shack Fun Rental". It is only a few blocks away so I head over and rent a bike for an hour thinking that I could find a Kayak place within that time. $10 for the hour, pretty nice bike.
My bike ride began along the intra coastal waterway working my way north until I was forced back onto Ocean Blvd which runs north and south along the beach. I decide to go north and I eventually see a sign for Hugh Taylor Birch Recreation Area. Approaching the gate on a bike I am able to bypass the line of cars paying their $3 to get in. I only have to pay $1 being on the bike. This is a great place to ride with about a 2 mile loop around the park. Right near the park entrance if you veer off to the right you will come across a lagoon where they rent canoes. It's not a kayak but I'll take it. The lagoon is about a mile long and the canoes rent for $5 an hour. Now I need to return the bike and head back to the park on foot. But I need lunch first.
Now I am heading south on Ocean Blvd trying to hurry and get my bike rental back on time. With a minute to spare, I return the bike and head toward Ocean Ave to look for a place to eat lunch. Plenty of restaurants along the beach, all with outdoor seating. The one that catches my eye is Cafe Del Mar because they are advertising Mediterranean food. After a couple of glasses of ice water the waitress brings me a tall Stella and I order Mediterranean Steamed Mussels and a Garden Salad. Now I am ready for the walk back to the State Park. It is a beautiful day to be outside in the sunshine. It is hard to beat 84 degrees F in February.
After about a 30 minute walk, I arrive back at Hugh Taylor Birch Recreation Area. The Ranger remembers me and gives me a paddle, life jacket, and the key to Canoe #2. It felt like a bit over a quarter of a mile walk down to the lagoon where the canoes are. It is a little more work canoing by your self because you have to keep switching sides to paddle on and the front of the canoe tends to stick up a bit without another person to level it out.
There is absolutely no wind so I manage to get going pretty easily. It feels like you are in the middle of the jungle with the sounds of all the birds around you. The water looks brown before you get in the canoe but once you are looking down from inside, you can clearly see the bottom and many large fish swimming by. I also saw a few turtles, some swimming and some on logs, and many different varieties of birds and plants. Apparently there are still some small sections of Mangroves where Herons and other animals make their home. I went as far as I could until the vegetation got so think I couldn't paddle anymore.
Some of the Lily Pads are starting to bloom and I was able to get one closeup of one of the flowers. The wind picked up for my paddle back up the lagoon but it worked to my advantage even though I was heading into it. The wind tends to push the front of the canoe to one side so you can continue to paddle on the other and you don't have to switch as much.
I asked the Ranger on the way out if there was a closer Water Taxi stop than the one I got off on and she told me that Stop #2 was on just over the Sunrise Draw Bridge which was only about a quarter mile away. While waiting along the banks for the Water Taxi I took a series of pictures of the Sunrise Draw Bridge opening to let a Yacht through. It looks interesting to see the pictures in sequence. You can check it out on my Picasa Web Album if you are interested.
I headed back on the Water Taxi to Stop #6 which is on the other side of the 17th Street bridge. I got off here because I wanted to walk over the bridge to see the view from up there on my way back to my hotel.