BEST PLACE TO KAYAK - 2002
We'll save for another time our recommendations for a paddle that highlights natural beauty and wildlife. This is urban kayaking at its gritty best. Launch at the public boat ramp on Watson Island, access to which is obscured by construction of the new Parrot Jungle. (It's on the east side of the island between the Miami Yacht Club and the Miami Outboard Club.) Circle north around Watson, carefully cross the Intracoastal, follow the shoreline south toward downtown Miami, then head upriver and get ready for adventure. As people like to say, this is a working river, and the activity increases the farther upstream you go. The action constantly changes, so it's impossible to predict exactly what you'll see, but you can be guaranteed some close encounters with a wide variety of cargo vessels, from tramp steamers to surprisingly large modern freighters, next to which you'll feel really tiny. (The entire river is a no-wake zone, so all these encounters are gentle.) Also guaranteed: a fascinating look at residential life along the river from a perspective you'll never get on dry land. There's much more of it than you might imagine, and it's very colorful. Pack a picnic lunch and take it ashore at lovely Sewell Park, just upriver from the Dolphin Expressway overpass. You won't get sick from having river water splashed on you, but it's a good idea to rinse off when you get home.