Friday, February 03, 2012

Kayaking the Weeki Wachee River

On Wednesday, we drove about 55 miles north to the Weeki Wachee River State Park.

Weeki Wachee Springs is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida. It’s a water park with a swimming area and water slides. They also have mermaid shows.  It was one of the first Florida theme parks, and was here even before  Disney.  After Disney World came to Florida, they have struggled to stay afloat. There were some developers drooling over the property, but the locals fought them and a few years ago it was finally bought by the State of Florida.  Thank goodness…it’s too nice of a place to be in the hands of private developers.

They have a nice kayak and canoe launch.  You can rent kayaks, and they will even pick you up several miles down stream and bring you back to your car.

It you have your own kayak, it cost $15 for the livery service.  I’m not sure what the cost of renting their kayaks are.

We paid $5.00 each just to launch.  We chose not to use the livery service.

You are paddling down stream with a 5 mph current, so it’s an easy paddle downstream.  Not so easy coming back up though.  Smile

Most people use their livery service, but we really don’t like the area down on the bottom part of the river.  The upper part of the river is mostly all  natural with just  one building along the river. When you get further down river, there are tons of cabins and houses….people and boats.  In the summer there are tons of people swimming and swinging from the ropes over the river.  There are boats along every beachy area and way too many people.  On the upper portion of the river it is peaceful and calm.  Much nicer.

kayak launch

We chose to just putz around on the upper portion of the river and paddle back upstream to get our vehicle. 

The theme park is separate from the kayaking area. You don’t have to pay admission to the theme park to kayak the river.  The park offers a free (with price of admission)  river boat tour.  You can get into the park for free with a Florida State Park annual pass, or it’s $13.95 to enter.  They have mermaid shows, riverboat tours, a swimming area and a waterpark (not open now)

After our kayak trip, we decided to walk around the park…since it was free with our state parks pass.  In all the years we have lived in this area, we had never been to the park.


It was a wonderful place in it’s day, but after Disney came to Florida, it really just couldn’t compete.  It was a nice way to spend an hour or so after our paddle though.  We missed the mermaid show.


Friendly Peacocks came to see us.


Look at his pretty “hat.”


The river is fed by the springs at Weeki Wachee.  The water is 74 degrees, and crystal clear. 



Okay…back to the purpose of our trip…the river!

Here is Al paddling….notice the open bag of potato chips in his lap?  Those were supposed to be for our lunch later during the day!

al Weeki Wachi River

We hadn’t gotten too far when we noticed something very unusual.

deer swimming across Weeki Wachee River

No, not a deer….but  a swimming deer.

deer swimming across Weeki Wachee River

There was a family of deer that were determined to swim across the river.

deer swimming across Weeki Wachee River

deer swimming across Weeki Wachee River

It was the coolest thing!  The first one crossed, then spotted us and the other ones appeared to be afraid to cross with us watching.

They ended up walking down stream a little and crossing behind us.   I had to turn around in the boat and become a contortionist to get the shots.  I wasn’t going to miss a photo of a swimming deer though!

deer swimming across Weeki Wachee River


We saw a pair of nesting Great Blue Heron’s.


One would search for just the right twig and he would bring it to the female (I assumed it was the female).  She would then take the twig and arrange it just right in the nest.  I had to laugh.  Women never are happy with how the man makes the bed!

We paddled downstream pretty quickly with the strong current.  The water was clear and the scenery was beautiful every where we went.

Weeki Wachi River

The color changed depending on what was on the bottom.

Weeki Wachi River

It was so clear that you could see all the fish swimming along.  There were a lot of mullet and Sheepshead.

fish on Weeki Wachee River

Al heard what he thought was an eagle, so he looked around to see if he could find an eagle nest.  He pointed a large nest out to me and we were pretty sure it was an eagle nest.  I took a quick picture of the nest by zooming way in with the camera.

I didn’t even see the eagle when we were on the water.  It wasn’t until I looked closer at the picture after we got back to shore  that  I saw the little white head sticking up!  Can you see the Bald Eagle?

Bald Eagle in nest

Here it is zoomed a bit closer.

Bald Eagle in nest

Okay…this was shaping up to be a very good day!

Had I known their was a bird in that nest, I would have gotten more shots.

Very relaxing.

paddling on the Weeki Wachee River

paddling on the Weeki Wachee River


addling on Weeki Wachee River

We saw a raccoon washing his food in the river.

raccoons on Weeki Wachee River

raccoon pencil sketch

Beautiful scenery around every bend.


Weeki Wachi River


Little Blue Heron

Al nearly had a collision with this little Blue Heron.   Evidently he came flying up right towards Al and didn’t see him until the last minute.  Wish I could have gotten that on film.

This is a Limpkin.  We saw him when we took the boat ride at the park.


It was one of those perfect days.  Beautiful weather, beautiful water, and lots of interesting wildlife.

We are enjoying the unusually warm Florida winter. 


  1. Wow! That certainly was a terrific day. The zoom is amazing in that it 'sees' things that we can't see from a distance. Weeki Wachee is one place in Florida that I have actually seen years ago (also Cypress Gardens)and we took the glass bottom boat ride. The weather sure has been wonderful in Florida this year - just read that February is going to be great too. Lucky us!

  2. What a great day!!! Thanks for the pictures. I love potato chips Kenny calls me a chipoholic.

  3. What a great day!!! Thanks for the pictures. I love potato chips Kenny calls me a chipoholic.

  4. Thank you for sharing a beautiful kayak ride!
    Such beautiful clear water with lots of wildlife!
    Awesome pics!

  5. Talk about being in the right place at the right time to catch those deer crossing the river, wow!!!

  6. You make me want to get our boat out. What a beautiful place to paddle.

  7. The swimming deer and all the wildlife was great to see. I remember seeing the mermaids when I was a kid a long long time ago. Cypress Gardens and the glass bottom boat too.

  8. That header picture is fantastic. What a great day you had. Sure wish I could have been there with you. Love all your pictures.

  9. What a great day. Lots of wild life. I really enjoyed the pictures of the deer in and along the stream.

  10. wow what a day!!!! your pictures are must really know how to run that camera of yours..sadly mine is always on point and shoot auto..I must get my book out and learn how to run it the deer swimming..I have seen that before but you got some great shots...looks like a fun area...

  11. thanks for showing us yet another place we hope to visit...

  12. It surely was a great day for a paddle!

  13. A beautiful area, glad it was saved from developers.

    Great shots of the swimming deer!

  14. What a day for photos, especially the deer swimming. That's something you don't see every day. Or ever! Thanks for posting them all! :)

  15. I've lived in Florida my entire life and I've never even heard of Weeki Wachee. That looks like it was a fun water park in its time, and I've never seen water more clear in any of the other springs. I will definitely have to take a trip to this park. I'll have to add it to RV123. If you're ever looking for more campgrounds or travel destinations, check out We list tons of information for the RV and camping enthusiast. Thanks!

  16. Wow, some days are just so special!! We have put Weeki Wachee on our kayak list...

    Thanks so much for the wonderful tour!!

  17. Wow, wow, wow, What a day! What an awesome day. Deer swimming, nature all around you. Nice & quiet too. I think you chose the right route.
    It's also so good to hear that the state bought the park & saved it from the developers. I believe I'd enjoy it there more than Disney anyhow. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Amazing pictures. Paul always wants a kayak, but can't figure out where to haul it. Such is life on the road. You can only carry so many things.

  19. Wow, what an awesome kayaking adventure! Great pics!

  20. We're investing in a GoPro camera to take kayaking with us. Sounds like it would have come in handy for you on this trip! You could've caught all the action with the wildlife while you just paddled along, and maybe you even caught that near collision to rewind and watch again and again! The pics are great, I would've loved to see the deer crossing.

  21. What a beautiful paddle! Your pictures are great and it must have been so special to see the deer swimming. Great post (as always). Happy paddling.


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