Paddle Board & Kayak Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park: A Paddler's Paradise
If you’re a paddling enthusiast like me, always on the hunt for the next best location, then Weeki Wachee Springs State Park should be at the top of your list. Nestled in Florida, this park is not just famous for its mermaid shows but is a hidden gem for those seeking an unparalleled paddling experience.
Why Paddle Weeki Wachee?
1. Crystal Clear Waters:
The park boasts of clear spring waters that flow seamlessly into the Gulf of Mexico. The clarity of the water provides a mesmerizing underwater view, making the paddling experience surreal.
2. Wildlife Galore:
As a coastal tour guide, I’ve seen my fair share of wildlife, but Weeki Wachee was something else. From freshwater turtles, large mouth bass, and herons to egrets, anhinga, and osprey, the biodiversity is rich and varied. The sight of a doe observing us from the banks was a moment to cherish.
3. Manatee Magic:
This area is a magnet for manatees seeking warmth and freshwater. Witnessing a large pod of these gentle giants is a sight that will stay with you forever.
4. Flora and Fauna:
The banks are adorned with oak, slash pine, and sable palm trees, providing a natural habitat for a plethora of freshwater birds and wildlife.
5. Stream Runs:
Florida is home to around 700 springs, and when these springs flow enough to form a river, they’re termed as ‘stream runs’. The stream at Weeki Wachee runs straight into the Gulf of Mexico, offering a unique paddling experience.
Winter Time Bliss
Pros and Cons of Paddling out of The State Park
For those without their own equipment, Weeki Wachee Freshwater Adventures, located within the park, offers kayak rentals and a convenient launch area. The best part? They offer a pick-up service downstream, ensuring you don’t have to paddle back against the current. The 2.8-mile downstream paddle is marked with signs directing you to the pick-up point, making it a hassle-free experience. The only con is that don’t offer pick up for those with their own equipment and you have to bring back rentals within 2 hours.
The headspring’s strong current of about 5 mph ensures that even beginners can enjoy this trip without any strain. Since private companies don’t allow launching of private vessels and the state park doesn’t allow pick up them, we recommend renting when you go to this area.
Plan your weekend getaway to Weeki Wachee Springs
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is not just a tourist attraction for its mermaid shows. It’s a paddler’s dream come true. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a newbie, the park promises an experience that’s both thrilling and serene. So, the next time you’re in Florida, make sure to paddle Weeki Wachee! This area makes for a great weekend paddling trip for locals as well as visitors from other states and countries.
The Best Time to See Manatees at Weeki Wachee Springs is November to March
Manatees love to go upriver into the Weeki Wachee Springs for warmer water, as it’s essential for their survival in winter.
Plan your paddling trip to Weeki Wachee Springs
This 2-day travel plan includes paddling at both Weeki Wachee Springs and Chassahowitzka River:
Day 1: Dive into Weeki Wachee Springs
7:00 am: Visit the local grocery store, Publix and pick up lunch for the trip.
8:00 am: Breakfast at a local café. Consider trying one of Florida’s local breakfast spots, The Breakfast Station.
9:00 am: Arrive at The Kayak Shack ensure that you arrive early and, familiarizing yourself with the area.
10:00 am: Start your paddling excursion with The Kayak Shack (Reservations highly recommended). Enjoy the clear waters, wildlife, and the serene environment. Start your paddle upstream to the head springs of Weeki Wachee Springs.
12:00 pm: Plan to stay hydrated and eat your lunch along the way. Always plan time for hydration and reapplying sunscreen.
1:00 pm: Start your float trip down-river
3:30 pm: Arrive back at the Kayak Shack, change, tip service staff and get ready for your next adventure.
6:30 pm: Head to a local restaurant for dinner. Florida offers a variety of seafood options that are a must-try.
8:00 pm: Return to your accommodation. Rest and recharge for the next day.
Day 2: Chassahowitzka River Adventure
8:00 am: Breakfast at a local café.
9:00 am: Arrive at Chassahowitzka River Campground. Familiarize yourself with the area. The office has dry bags for sale, maps and kayak rentals on-site. Start your paddling excursion. The Chassahowitzka River is known for its clear waters, springs, and wildlife.
10:00 AM Don’t miss the Seven Sisters Springs, located within a mile of the kayak launch.
11:00 AM Consider snorkeling in the springs, swimming through the limestone pathways, or simply floating and enjoying the tranquility.
12:00 pm: Picnic lunch by the river. Pack some local delicacies and enjoy a meal amidst nature.
1:00 pm: Use the facilities to change, and then take a short drive over to Mertailor’s for an unforgettable interactive aquarium experience. *This location was featured on the Netflix series “Merpeople.”
4:00 pm: Visit Downtown Crystal River to explore the local shops and restaurants. This area is a short 20 minute drive from Mertailor.
6:30 pm: Pick one of the options found while sightseeing or visit one our favorite places, The Crab Plant.
8:30 pm: Return to your accommodation and pack for departure.
Alas, remember to check the weather forecast and any local advisories before your excursions. Also, always ensure you have the necessary reservations for activities. Enjoy your trip!