Paddling out from the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve is an interesting mixture of nature and industry. Just adjacent to the huge TECO Big Bend Power Plant is this spit of land set aside by the county that seems to be primarily used by fisherman and walkers. The preserve is outlined by a not-so-nice beach that is OK for a put-in provided you don't mind rolling (or shouldering) your kayak for a approx 100-yard hike.
As you put-in at the beach, you can take a right into the channel and go towards the power station. If you're lucky (I haven't been), you would see a manatee traveling to or from the warm water discharge of the power plant. More likely, you will just see all the fisherman dragging the channel. This is short, approx 5 minutes one-way.
If you head straight out from the beach (appox. west by northwest direction), paddle towards the smaller of 2 distant islands. This island is named by the locals "beer can island" and is identified by a pier on the right (northwest) side. It is a 30-minute paddle straight out and I've been accompanied by porpoise on this leg before. If you're going on a weekend, definitely expect a lot of motorboat traffic and expect a lot of people visiting the island. Additionally, take care because you'll be crossing a commercially used channel. If you go during an off time, it's possible you'll have the entire island to yourself. It's a nice hike around the island with lots of broken shells and sand dollars, plus nice vistas of downtown Tampa and St Petersburg in the distance. In addition, Macdill Air Force base is directly across the bay so it's interesting to see the military jets flying over sometimes. Note: the island is privately owned but contains no structures and according to 1 single sign on the island, the owners allow the public to use the island.
The third interesting route from Apollo Beach Nature Preserve is to head south along the expensive homes (one of these homes is owned by one of the Backstreet Boys if you're into that sort of thing). Anyways, follow the boat channel along the expensive homes until you see the uninhabited mangrove shores south of the developed area, then paddle for the mangroves! This is my favorite area because you can skirt in and out of the small inlets along here and it has a very undeveloped quality to it. Note that there is very little motor traffic here since it is shallow along most of the mangrove area. I have seen some very beautiful birds including osprey, spoonbills and even what I believe was a flamingo (I'm not an expert at birds, but I swear I saw a flamingo). As for distance and time, I haven't paddled to this area from the Nature Preserve (I've launched from a private beach), but I would guesstimate it to be 45 minutes one-way.
No restroom facilities.
Take I-75 to exit 47; go west to U.S. 41; go south to Apollo Beach Blvd; turn right, and go 2 miles and take a right to the end. Park and then take the trail to your left directly to the beach.