Located in north Miami-Dade County, the Oleta River area offers a nice mix of urban and wilderness kayaking. The water is surprisingly clear here due to a good inflow of ocean water through Haulover inlet. Swimming, fishing, snorkeling or just plain touring are all possible. There is little to block the ocean breeze in the open bay on a windy day here, which can make for tough paddling once you leave the cove by FIU or the river. There are some old Tequesta Indian sites near East Greynolds Park off the Oleta River itself for those who know the spots. The Oleta River itself and the area by FIU have some old growth mangrove forests 30-35 feet tall, which is unique.
Directions: From the south take I-95 to 826 East (163rd St) and turn right on Interama Blvd. From the north it's faster to take Ives Dairy Rd. east to US1, then turn left at 163rd St. Watch out for mountain bikers. $4.00 entrance fee.
Put-in/Take-out: The put-in site is just before the parking lots. There is a kayak/bike rental concession just across the street from the put-in. There is a fresh-water rinsing area for mountain bikes near the put-in to clean off your gear and kayak.
Route: From the put-in, take the second left turn to go out into North Biscayne Bay. To the south are some spoil islands. The first and largest of these, Sandspur Island, but commonly known as Beer Can island due to former trash problems, is a popular swimming spot for those in motorboats and has a sandy beach on the west side. The other smaller islands all have beaches and are less crowded. You can explore the mangrove trails in the main park, but they're kind of boring. There are much nicer trails in the secondary park area southwest of the FIU campus (pink circle). For a longer trip, you can head north up the intracoastal and go up the Oleta River proper, but there is a lot of boat traffic on the intracoastal. This is also a decent fishing spot. Trout can be found on the grass flats between the spoil islands, jacks in the deeper waters, snook around creeks and canals, and tarpon hang out in the lagoon behind FIU.
Alternative Route from East Greynolds Park (yellow dot on map)- Oleta River: About 1/2 mile north of 163rd St on US1 (Biscayne Blvd) is the entrance to East Greynolds Park. They may or may not be collecting the $6 fee. If not, master meter parking is $1 per hour. Take the one road to the end of the parking lot and launch by the picnic pavilion- sand/gravel. This puts you at the west end of the Oleta River. Tidal flow is minor and there are enough trees to partially block wind so that this can be paddled on a windy day. You can paddle north through Maule Lake, out to Dumbfoundling Bay and south down the intracoastal to the east end of the Oleta River (just south of the drawbridge), head west and back to the launch. Do this loop clockwise on an outgoing tide and counterclockwise with the incoming- current will be against you on the river but with you on the intracoastal.
Alternative to Alternative- Blue Marlin Fish House/Marina- In 2006 they finally opened the Blue Marlin Fish House on the Oleta River at 163rd St, just east of US-1. They also rent kayaks. There is a small fee to launch your own craft and hours of operation are irregular. This is about 400 yards south of the Greynolds Park put-in, but a less isolated place to leave a vehicle.
Wildlife: Manatees, tarpon, yellow-crowned night heron, great blue heron, white ibis, ospreys, American egrets, kingfishers.
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