Paddling Prep for Summer

submitted by Kealy McNeal, Ocean Tribe Paddlers

It is important to prepare carefully for paddles during the summer months. Sunscreen, rash guards, and planning for weather are a must.

We are lucky here in Southwest Florida to be able to paddle our waterways year-round. However, the summer months are full of intense heat and lots of rain, so preparing for paddling in these conditions can be challenging. Here are some suggestions and tips for having safe and enjoyable paddles in the summertime.

Rays from the sun are at their harshest in the middle of the day, so try to avoid or minimize time on the water between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., if possible. If you can get on the water early in the day, you can avoid the risk for sunburn and dehydration.

When it comes to sun protection, we always recommend wearing sunglasses, long sleeves and a hat. But the most essential item is sunscreen – be sure to apply it both before and during your paddle. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen, don’t remember to reapply, or forget crucial parts of their body like the back of their neck or top of their feet!

Summer not only brings scorching heat, but also massive, quick-building, and potentially dangerous squalls that can be very unpredictable. We advise that if the weather looks questionable, don’t get on the water. Thunderstorms often pop up rapidly, especially in the afternoon hours, building in size and strength producing strong winds, high seas, and a lot of lightning. This is especially true in the summer months – another great reason to start your paddles early.

Check your local radar for the movement and location of storms. And always err on the side of caution. If you think you can squeeze in a quick paddle before the storm hits, think twice. There will always be another, safer opportunity to paddle.

If you are unsure about when it is safe to go out, Sanibel Sea School is now booking limited private paddling sessions with us. We’d be happy to teach you basic paddling skills and share more paddling tips. Quiet summer days are the perfect time to get out on the water and see the beautiful and unique wild places Sanibel has to offer – we hope to see you on the water.

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, the mission of Ocean Tribe Paddlers is to assist the paddling community of Southwest Florida to better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean, and to help paddlers be engaged stewards of our marine environment. For more information about Ocean Tribe Paddlers, visit or contact

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