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Canoeing & Kayaking

Pelican Island, Sebastian, FL
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This page Copyright 2000 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Central Florida Kayak, 321-952-6205
  • Date Submitted: 3/2000
  • Email:
  • Location: Riverview Park, Sebastian Florida FL
  • Class: 1, Flat open water, affected by wind and tide
  • Distance Paddled: 5 miles round trip (see map below)
  • Water: brackish
  • Wildlife: Dolphins, Brown Pelicans, White Pelicans (in winter), Cormorants, White Ibis, Egrets, many other birds possible, jumping Mullet, Mangroves

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: Take US 1 south to Sebastian Riverview Park at the intersection of SR 512. About 20.8 miles south of Hwy 192. Look for green roofed Hess station on left. Alternate route, take I-95 south to Fellsmere/Sebastian exit (exit 69) 24.5 miles south of Hwy 192, then east on SR 512 for 7 miles to the end at Riverview Park.Entry and Exit at the small beach just south of Riverview Park on the Indian River in the town of Sebastian. This little beach is about 30 yards south of the statue of Paul Kroegel (first manager of Pelican Island). The statue serves as a good meeting place for groups planning to do the route.
  • GPS: N 27 deg 47.62' W 080 deg 26.95'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: ): small sandy beach at shore of vacant lot south of Riverview Park. This land is signed as being part of a park extension project. If when the park is extended, the beach does not remain, then an alternate put-in is the public boat ramp 200 yards north (just north of the park)
  • Parking: Parking is across the road from the put-in.
  • Facilities: .): Public rest-rooms are available adjacent to the parking in Riverview Park.

What We Saw

The trip takes you along channel islands and across open water and in the Indian River to Pelican Island and back. Pelican Island is a small 3-acre island and was the nations first wildlife refuge, established on March 14, 1903, saving the birds from plume hunters. Before launching, take note of the large Channel 68 Restaurant, built on the water just north of the launch site. This makes a good landmark for the return trip.

Paddle southeast from the launch site, along a chain of channel islands (also known as spoil islands). Beware of shallow sand spits extending west from these islands as you pass along their western shores. Continue past seven or eight islands of various sizes and cross a small marked access channel which goes west from the Intracoastal Waterway to a private canal. The turning point is just after you pass what seems to be the last island in the chain (1.35 miles) GPS 27 47.62N 80 26.95W. From here you may be able to see part of the Wabasso bridge in the distance to the ESE. Turn and paddle ENE past floats from crab pots and occasional jumping mullet. Here you must cross the main Intracoastal Waterway channel. Use extreme caution and maintain forward progress while crossing the channel. Also beware of the wake from large boats. If several paddlers are in the party, wait until it is clear for all to cross together. Continue paddling ENE toward the low, treeless island which will come into view in front of the opposite shore of the Indian River. This is Pelican Island (for just under 1 mile from the turn point). As you approach, depending upon the time of day, you may see many nesting, feeding, or loafing birds on or around the island. Circle the island if desired but do not land. Observe the signs and keep the posted distance from the island.

Return the way you came. On the return trip, it may be desirable to stop on one of the sandy channel island beaches for lunch and/or exploration as we did on the island at the "elbow" of the route above.

An alternate return route is to paddle directly WNW toward the launch site. . Beware of the effects of wind and current on this open water paddle. It may be a good idea to check the forecast high and low tide. Sebastian Inlet is nearby and although the effect on this area should not be great, the combination of opposing wind AND current can be just enough to provide more adventure than you had bargained for. Kayaks may fare better than canoes in windy conditions.

This is a fun paddle which will provide natural beauty, history, and adventure.