Family Fun,Family Travel,Florida,Great Outdoors,Kayaking,Kid Friendly,Tampa Life,Theme Parks

Kayaking the Weeki Wachee River

2013-10-30T01-19-35_8Last weekend I finally got to make a trip that I’ve been dying to do for some time now. I finally got to take make the 5.5 mile kayak trip down the Weeki Wachee River. We started near the head springs inside the state park and ended our trip at Rogers Park 6.5 miles later. No that isn’t a typo. The 5.5 mile trip actually turned into a 6.5 mile trip for us. I’ll explain that part later. Who knew so much could happen along this meandering, beautiful crystal clear spring-fed river in just a few hours?! I made the trip with my son and one of my sorority sister/friends, a 1st timer. It definitely turned out to be quite the adventure. So instead of my usual narrative I’ll just give you the top 5 best moments we had on the river that day. Then you’ll see why you should add kayking the Weeki Wachee River to your list of adventures, especially if you live in the state of Florida.

5. The spiders – My friend is a trooper and always down for something new. She had canoed before but never kayaked. Personally I think kayaking is much easier but it is very different. She spent a lot of time fighting the shrubbery along the banks and getting the spiders that hopped in with her because she disturbed their riverside web out of her kayak. About 2 miles in she had the hang of it and she was stroking the river like a pro. I had a spider hop aboard with me too….later I discovered that I had crushed him under my butt. It happens.

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4. The serenity – Being away from civilization and being one with nature allows you to be with just you and your thoughts. Those moments of quiet time and nature align your mind and your soul with God. You feel that connection all around you. Nothing like that kind of peace. Legit.

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3. The wildlife – We saw (and heard) woodpeckers, cranes, turtles, and we think an otter. You can see to the bottom so there are tons and tons of fish all along the way. There’s always the chance for a manatee sighting. We didn’t see any on this trip. It’s still a little early in the season but they are a common fixture along the river especially as the weather cools off.

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2. The water – It’s a cool, crystal clear, aqua blue 74 degrees year around because it’s fed from the Weeki Wachee head spring inside the state park (yes the home of the infamous mermaid show). Even if you don’t think you’re the “outdoorsy type”, it will take your breath away — seriously. We pulled over along a sandy little stretch of beach and had lunch and just took it all in. There are places to hop out for a swim all along the way.

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**Drum Roll Please**

1. The Number One moment of our trip was what I have dubbed the “Geronimo Tree!!!” So here’s how we added a mile to our trip. We passed a really cool spot with a large stretch of white sandy beach and a tree with a rope to swing from and planks to climb up the tree and jump off (preferably yelling Geronimoooooo!) . We didn’t stop because it was overly crowded. We went about half a mile further down and stopped for a break. Several boats that had been docked at the good swimming spot were passing by us which meant the other spot was now relatively empty. We couldn’t resist….we decided to paddle back upstream (against the current) to the spot. It was hard because the downstream current really moves. After much moaning and groaning we did make it back for this prime piece of real estate! Old people, young people, fat people, skinny people, men, women, boys and girls climbed the tree and took the 12-15 foot plunge from the tree. My son and my friend were true adventurers. They both had the courage to make the jump and it was pure comedy! As for me….I opted to swing from the rope out into the water instead. Let’s just say it wasn’t very graceful but it was definitely fun.

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Trip Tips:

  • We spent close to an hour at the Geronimo Tree only to discover further downstream there are many many other spots with ropes and ladders for swinging and jumping. We were worried about getting back to catch our shuttle back to our car on time so we didn’t get to stop at the others.
  • Bug spray is your friend
  • Make sure you have plenty of water. The trip should take you between 3 and 5 hours just depending on how much you stop and play.
  • Bring a cooler and pack your lunch and snacks for the trip. Make a day of it. This river is just too pretty to rush.
  • If you see a spot that you like, STOP and enjoy it. We added a mile because we paddled back up half a mile and then back down that half a mile again. It was worth it but you should avoid repeating our mistake.
  • Protect those hands.  Wear gloves for your trip to prevent unsightly callouses.

Looking to plan a similar outdoorsy excursion? Here are some helpful websites:

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