Get Ready to Explore: Paddleboarding Tips and Tricks for Callalisa Creek in Central Florida

If you’re looking for a secluded paddleboarding location in Central Florida that’s an easy drive, Callalisa Creek is for you!

Callalisa Creek is conveniently located for a quick day trip from Orlando and can accommodate paddlers of all skills and abilities. It’s most popular for paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and non-motorized boats. The creek gets bonus points for having serene water with plenty of views of water birds and wildlife

Shout out to Ella Ran, avid paddleboarder and co-owner of Outsiders USA in DeLand, Florida. She introduced Robert and me to Callalisa Creek. It’s quickly become one of our favorite local paddles, and we visit often. 

In this post, I’ll share route options for beginner, intermediate, and expert paddlers. I’ll also suggest apps, gear, and the best times to visit. 

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Table of Contents

Where is Callalisa Creek?

Callalisa Creek is about 60 minutes northeast of Orlando in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. 

It’s a tidal creek that runs from Indian River North to Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve. It’s a labyrinth of interconnected tidal marshes and mangrove hammocks.

Collage featuring an aerial satellite map of Callalisa Creek and Jessica, owner of Walk and Paddle, and her husband Robert out on Callalisa Creek on a hot summer day.

Why Do I Recommend Callalisa Creek?

Callalisa Creek is a calm and beautiful waterway. Surrounded by greenery, it’s a peaceful place to paddle. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, the creek offers a peaceful experience. It’s an excellent spot for a solo paddle or a guided tour.

Although Callalisa is affected by tides, it typically has no strong current

The creek is also mostly sheltered from high winds and a good paddle during low and high tides. We did go on a day that was a bit overcast and windy, making for quite the paddle. We sat on our boards and paddled hard. Always check the weather, including wind speed, before heading out.

Although small motorized boats are allowed, most boaters prefer the Intracoastal Indian River North. You’ll mostly see kayaks, other paddleboards, and non-motorized boats

Birdwatching

Paddlers can enjoy seeing a variety of waterfowl like:

  • Herons
  • Egrets
  • Ibis
  • Spoonbills
Snowy egret wading close to shore at Callalisa Creek in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Snowy Egret on the hunt.

Potential Cons

It can be easy to get lost in the mangroves if you don’t know the area or aren’t tracking your route.

If you go through the mangrove channels that branch off Callalisa Creek during low tide, you might have to carry your gear over dry areas, wait for the tides to return, and navigate around exposed oyster beds.

There are no amenities or restrooms. So you have to bring your own water and snacks.

The water is dark, and you can’t see the bottom in most areas. That can feel a little nerve-wracking for some.

Can You Rent Paddleboards at Callalisa Creek?

Nope, there aren’t any rental spots right at Callalisa Creek. But hey, you can easily hire a rental company. 

My go-to paddleboard pros are at Outsiders USA in DeLand, Florida. You can snag a rental and do your solo thing or let them guide the way. The cool part? No fuss about hauling boards around – they bring them straight to you. 

Ella and Renee, the dynamic co-owners, can even lead you on a fantastic tour. If you’re new to paddling, having a guide like them is gold – they’ll teach you the ropes and help you explore different routes.

Callalisa Creek Launch Details

The Callalisa Creek boat launch is in Callalisa Creek Park at 598 S. Peninsula Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169.

The park is free and has picnic tables and sparse shade. It has a sandy lot and launch point. 

You can pull up to the launch and unload all your gear. Small motorboats can launch here, but you will mostly see other paddleboarders, kayakers, and rowers. 

Anglers often fish in and around the launch area but respect paddlers.

The park has no facilities, but several businesses are nearby if you have to go. More details are available at the Sports Volusia website.

Jessica Meinhofer, owner of Walk and Paddle, and her husband Robert at the launch point at Callalisa Creek in New Smyrna Beach, Florida after a hot and sunny paddle.
Robert and I at the launch point after a hot paddle.

Easy and Beginner Paddle Route

If you are new to paddleboarding or just looking for a short paddle, I recommend heading south (left) from the launch. 

You’ll paddle under the bridge (A1A) following the creek. I recommend NOT taking the mangrove channels. They become pretty complicated, making it easy to get lost

This beginner route isn’t a loop. It’s out-and-back. So paddle .5 or 1 mile and then turn back around.

See the burgundy path on PaddleFlorida.net’s map. 

Jessica Meinhofer, owner of Walk and Paddle, paddleboarding on Callalisa Creek towards the launch point on a cloudless day.

Intermediate Paddle Route Options

For those who are eager to travel more than a mile on Callalisa Creek but aim to wrap it up in two to three hours, there are many route choices to match your paddling rhythm.

Intermediate Paddle Option One:

Launch and head south (left) under the A1A bridge. Follow Callalisa Creek and avoid the side mangrove channels. The side channels keep getting smaller and smaller. It’s easy to get lost.

Paddle for 2 miles or so and then turn back around

Refer to the burgundy path on PaddleFlorida.net’s map below. 

Intermediate Paddle Option Two:

From the launch, paddle south (left) under the A1A bridge. 

Follow the creek, but take a narrow mangrove channel and wander south until you hit the Indian River North. This mangrove path is almost 4 miles round-trip, out and back. 

Watch the map so you don’t get lost in the mosquito drainage ditches.  

Reference the burgandy path and the orange one on the west (left) side of PaddleFlorida.net’s map. 

Intermediate Paddle Option Three:

Launch and paddle under the A1A bridge (left and south). Keep paddling Callalisa Creek, but explore the area.

You can continue along the main creek and paddle into the mangrove channels

Keep an eye on:

  • your map so you don’t get lost
  • the distance traveled so you don’t paddle too far 
  • the tides so you don’t get stranded in canals and side creeks

Refer to PaddleFlorida.net’s fantastic paddle route map for these options. Click here to see it

Expert Paddle Route Options

For experienced paddleboarders, Callalisa Creek has plenty of opportunities for adventure, distance, and endurance. 

Expert Paddle Option One:

Launch your board and paddle ⅓ mile north (right away from the A1A bridge) to the Indian River North

From the Indian River, you can: 

  • paddleboard west to Chicken Island
  • paddle to the sandbar north of the Causeway N bridge
  • travel 2 miles north to Disappearing Island

The Indian River North is wide and has motorboat traffic. The currents and wind may also make paddling difficult.

Expert Paddle Option Two:

From the launch, head south (left) under the bridge. Paddle the entire length of Callalisa Creek, more than seven miles round-trip.

It’s an out-and-back trail and takes an average of three hours

Paddling the length of Callalisa Creek is difficult due to its length and the many off-shoots from the main creek deep in the mangroves. It can be easy to get lost or stranded in a shallow area during low tide. 

Expert Paddle Option Three:

Once you launch, paddle any combo of the main creek, mangrove channel, and Indian River using the map from Paddle Florida. Go as far as you want, then loop back or turn back. 

The choices are endless.

Two hard paddleboards, Evolve and Movement, out on Callalisa Creek in New Smyrna, Florida on a bright and sunny day.

Best Apps for Paddling Callalisa Creek

Navigating the waters involves several factors, and having some trusty apps in your corner can make it more predictable. Here are a few of my personal favorites to elevate your paddleboarding game.

GPS Tracker

I like the Strave app because it records your GPS routes on a map. 

Tracking your course is especially important at Callalisa Creek, with its many canals and off-shoots.

With the app, you can track your paddles, connect with friends, and share your activities.

Launch Point Research App

The Go Paddling app is a great starting point when researching locations. It shows launch points worldwide. 

Users can share their experiences about the launches, but the information is sometimes outdated and inaccurate.

Tidal Conditions App

The Surfline app is great for seeing the tides and wave conditions in your paddle area. 

Knowing the tides is always important when paddling tidal waters like Callalisa Creek. 

It also gives you first light, sunrise, sunset, and last light

Colorful graphic of low and high tide.

Weather App

I love using my iPhone Weather App and the My Radar App. I check the temperature first and then check the radar second. Together they give me a good overview of what to expect during my paddle. 

Other paddleboarders I’ve spoken to recommend the WeatherBug app, which includes:

  • live radar
  • humidity
  • air quality
  • lightning map
  • highs and lows for the day
  • info on wind

Wind App

More than just a great app name, Windy provides accurate wind speed and direction data for your location.

Knowing wind conditions is important whether you are paddling on a lake, river, tidal waters, or the ocean

Gear for Paddling Callalisa Creek

Having the correct gear can enhance your paddle journey. After numerous returns to Callalisa, I’ve compiled a concise list of essential gear to ensure your safety and comfort.

Sun protection

Out on the creek, there’s no natural shade to catch a break from the sun, so be ready to make your own shady oasis! There might be some out in the mangroves, but that creek is completely exposed.

Hat

A snug-fitting baseball cap works, or a wide-brimmed hat with a strap. You don’t want to lose it during your paddle.

Sunglasses

While all sunglasses will help you on the water, polarized ones will help you see better by reducing glare. Don’t forget to get a strap to keep from losing them. I lost a pair of sunglasses out at King’s Landing, and it was awful. Not only did I need them, but I inadvertently left trash behind. Even though we searched the area, we never found them.

Sunblock

Keep your skin from burning with any brand of reef-safe and waterproof sunblock. And don’t forget about your lips! They can get damaged from sun exposure, too.

Selfie of Jessica, owner of Walk and Paddle, and Robert out on their paddleboards on Callalisa Creek on a sunny Florida Day.
Sipping on some cold drinks – and yes, we were responsible with our trash!

Rash guard

A rash guard is a great option to protect your skin from the effects of wind and sun. I recommend a long-sleeved version with thumb holes. I only have one rash guard, so I often use arm sleeves with thumb holes.

Hydration

Fill up that reusable bottle with crisp, cool water before each paddle. I’m a big fan of adding electrolytes to my water to make it taste good and avoid muscle cramps. And if you run out of water from your reusable bottle, don’t forget to bring other sources of hydration.

Footwear

No way around it: your feet will get wet, even if only during launch. Also, there are oyster beds around Callalisa Creek that can tear up your feet if they aren’t protected.

Water shoes are a good choice if you don’t want to ruin your other shoes. They are made to protect the soles of your feet and are not affected by wet-dry cycles. I recommend not wearing them once you are on your board, however, because they can interfere with good foot placement.

Safety Gear

In Florida, you are required by law to have a PFD and whistle. 

All those under the age of 6 must wear a PFD. I recommend wearing them as much as possible regardless of age. 

The regulations say a “sound-producing device,” but a whistle is the easiest choice. They are small and can attach to your PFD or hang from a string around your neck. They are also reasonably cheap.

For added safety, use a leash to keep you and your board together in case you fall.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lists the legal requirements for Florida here.

Robert sits on his paddleboard on Callalisa Creek in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Robert paddling while wearing PFD. PSA – waterproof phone pouches = fuzzy photos.

Best Times to Paddleboard Callalisa Creek

Are you planning the perfect paddle at Callalisa Creek? Let’s discuss the prime times to hit the water and make the most of your paddleboarding adventure.

Weather

Callalisa Creek is a good paddle if it’s not windy, stormy, or extreme temperatures like peak summer.

Times

The best time to paddle Callalisa depends on the season, but I recommend mornings. The weather is calmer in the morning, and you have plenty of time to return to the launch point.

Tides

At Callalisa Creek, you can paddle during all tides.

Low tide

Paddle during low tide if you want to stop at various sandy “beaches” that get exposed. You can beach your board, rest, and swim. However, there are oyster beds that get exposed, so you’ll want to avoid those. 

Some of the areas can get very shallow and muddy making it hard to navigate.

View of a calm Callalisa Creek from an Evolve paddleboard on a bright and sunny day.
Another blurry photo – thanks waterproof phone pouch. It’s still clear to see that Callalisa Creek is a great place to paddle.

High tide

Aim for high tide to explore in and around the mosquito canals and drainage ditches. Those areas can get shallow during low tide, and you don’t want to get stuck.

Slack tide

Paddling one hour on either side of high or low tide can help you avoid currents. Even though Callalisa Creek is protected from strong currents, it’s even calmer during slack tide.

Seasons

Spring and Fall are the best seasons to paddle Callalisa.

Florida can get extremely hot in summer. You can swim in Callalisa Creek, but it’s not a “swimming spot.” Also, afternoon storms are common in the summer.

You can paddle during Florida’s mild winter, but you will need gear to keep you warm.

Happy Paddling

Pinnable image of two Evolve paddleboards out on Callalisalisa Creek on a sunny day.
Dont’ forget to pin me!

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