Last month the blog turned 2 years old! What better way to commemorate the occasion than to do something outdoorsy! I decided to return to the best place to kayak in Florida (also my favorite paddle location) for a kayak excursion on the Weeki Wachee River with my Outdoorsy Diva and Friends group. (Not a member of my group yet? You should be! We do fun stuff.) For this event I reserved our group kayak trip with Weeki Wachee Kayaking. I used a different outfitter on previous excursions, but their times tend to be a bit more restrictive and just wouldn’t work for this trip because we wouldn’t be able to get there until the afternoon. A friend referred me to Weeki Wachee Kayaking, which has leased a launch on the river on the property of Weeki Wachee Christian Camp. (Weeki Wachee Kayaking provided a free kayak rental in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinion of my experience. Full Disclosures.)
For this trip I was so happy to bring 3 first time kayakers out for their very first paddle. I get such a thrill of exposing others to my love and passion of the outdoors and I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate the anniversary of this blog. The launch location is located a few minutes past the Weeki Wachee Springs Park, one of my favorite places in all of Florida. Google maps didn’t let me down and we found the location with no issues.
Keith, the owner of Weeki Wachee Kayaking and one of his staff loaded our kayaks and paddles onto the trailer and we hopped into the air-conditioned van to be transported down to the launch site which is located at Weeki Wachee State Park. Be warned, the secret is out on what a beautiful river this is so the launch can get pretty crowded during peak times like weekends. Keith got all of our kayaks unloaded and into the water. He took the time to give a quick tutorial to the newbie paddlers. He was also gracious enough to take pictures for me before we started our down river float. Once everyone was safely into the water we began our 5 mile journey down to the pick up spot at the Weeki Wachee Christian Camp landing.
The Weeki Wachee River takes my breath away every single time I see it. The river’s name literally means “winding river” translated from its Seminole Indian name. It starts at the head springs which is a first magnitude spring pumping 67 million gallons of fresh spring water everyday and then twists and turns all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico. I love this spring fed river because it’s turquoise and aquamarine waters are just so hypnotizing. The white sandy bottom and crystal clear water provides for optimum visibility of all of the fish and wildlife swimming beneath you. There are lots of fish and turtles, river otters, and if you’re lucky you may spot manatee. I spotted a deer along the banks which was a first for me! We didn’t see any manatee on this visit but some people told us they had seen some earlier in the day. It’s no wonder some people consider this to be the best place to kayak in Florida.
The other great thing about a spring fed river means swimming is ok any time of year. The waters are a constant 72 degrees year round. I’ve actually found that swimming when the air temperature is actually below the water temperature is awesome because your body will find the warmer water very inviting. Coming out of the water is a bit brutal though so have your towel ready.
We made our way down the river chatting it up with perfect strangers, singing songs, and laughing at the occasional collision with a tree branch. It’s par for the course. It wouldn’t be me though without an incident of some kind. I was starving and insisted we pull over so we could eat our lunches. We pulled over to what looked like a nice shallow area along the riverbank. I hopped out first and to my shock, what I thought was sandy ground was boggy and soggy and I stepped down up to my knees in sand, mud, and leaves! For a split second I was afraid I was in some kind of quicksand. It was a very scary and uneasy feeling and I felt like I was sinking even deeper. In a panic I tried to pull my leg up and get to higher ground and as I did so, my flip flops were sucked right off my feet. Any attempt to retrieve them was futile. They were long gone, down into the abyss of muck. Meanwhile the newbies in the group couldn’t secure their kayaks because the current was moving so strong in this spot and so they floated away without me and my other experienced paddler had to paddle away after them to make sure they didn’t get into any trouble. I managed to get back into my kayak unassisted without flipping my boat (yay for tiny miracles!) and I paddled furiously trying to catch up to my friends…barefoot. I usually never kayak in flip flops. I wear water shoes but I was rushing and I couldn’t find them when I was leaving home so I just put on my cheapo Target flip flops. Lesson learned.
We did eventually find a suitable spot to pull over and enjoy our lunch in the cool shade along the river bank. There are also lots of places along the river where you can climb a tree and jump out or jump from a platform or just nice places for a swim. The last time I paddled this river, there was a really nice white sandy beach area with a rope from a tree and a ladder to climb the tree and jump. We had nicknamed it the Geronimo tree. See previous post, Kayaking the Weeki Wachee River. Sadly when we found the area the tree had apparently fallen down. It’s still a great area to stop and get out for a swim or to enjoy your lunch. It’s after the 3 mile marker in a very wide bend in the river. There’s a residence of some kind on the opposite bank.
Once we started to pass the residences we knew that we were not too far from our exit spot. We did it! We completed a 5 mile trip without any turnovers or casualties and all of the newbies said despite being a little sore and a little afraid they would definitely do it again! I couldn’t ask for a better Blogaversary gift than that especially at one of the best places to kayak in Florida.
Keith was there to pick us up once we arrived at the landing and drive us the short drive back up to the parking lot area. He and his staff are extremely friendly and he is very knowledgable about the Weeki Wachee area. If you have a question just ask him.
Weeki Wachee Kayaking
Cost: $35 single; $40 tandem (If you have your own kayak they will still transport you and pick you up for a small fee. Call for details.)
Open Monday to Sunday 8AM to 6PM
This includes your transport to the launch and pick up and transport back to your car. They also offer some other trips like Pine Island and Bay Port landing. Visit the website www.weekiwacheekayaking.com for more details on the services offered.
Special thanks to Keith for such great hospitality! He was extremely friendly and flexible. We didn’t feel rushed at all. I will definitely use Weeki Wachee Kayaking for my next trip on the river.
If you are thinking of planning your own outdoorsy kayak adventure here are some of the things you’ll need:
- Insect repellant
- Water shoes
- Kayak gloves
- Dry box (keep your phone and keys safe)
- Waterproof camera (I just got an SJCAM and I love it!!)
- Snorkel gear
- Sun screen
- Swimwear or clothes that dry easily
- Don’t forget to pack water and a small cooler for lunch.
You can get many of your kayaking supplies right here in the OD Adventure Store!
Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™
“Adventure is a lifestyle.”