Paddling the Weeki Wachee River

Weeki WacheeThe Weeki Wachee River of Florida is one of the truly wonderful getaway destinations for anyone who enjoys being out in nature. Located north of Tampa in Hernando County, this river is filled with crystal clear water and provides twelve miles of beautiful scenery and fun activities.

Perhaps the most famous spot on this beautiful natural resource is Weeki Wachee Springs. Here you’ll find live underwater variety shows that star real live mermaids. The submerged Mermaid Theater is a fun place to catch these ladies in a spectacular show, or you can board a river boat to take a group cruise along the river. You can even make arrangements to scuba dive in the Weeki Wachee Springs if you’re part of a dive shop group. Snorkeling—always a fun activity—is encouraged there as well.

But if you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, bring a canoe or a kayak and launch yourself into the river. There are even kayaks and canoes for rent if you don’t have one of your own. Either way, paddling the Weeki Wachee River is a quiet and gentle journey to where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Take your time, coast along, and take advantage of lovely spots to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch or catch some rays on the beach that is located in the park.

But be alert for surprises because many species of wildlife make their homes in and along the river. If you keep a sharp eye out, you’re likely to see turtles sunning themselves on partially submerged tree branches or paddling through the clear waters. Raccoons hunch along the riverbanks, waiting patiently for their own fish lunches or simply washing their hands, while otters frolic in the water. You might even see a manatee swimming down this wonderful waterway or a black bear creeping through the forest on either side of the river. No doubt a snake or two—or more—will swim past your canoe or kayak.

And if you’re a bird watcher, you’ll be rewarded with many special spotting opportunities. Look up to see majestic pelicans sailing overhead. Watch the brush along the riverbanks for Great Blue Herons that patiently stalk for fish. Several species of ducks will swim alongside your water craft and, if you look down, you’ll see hundreds of fish swimming below you.

There are several miles of hiking and biking trails along or near the river, too, so if you feel like a little exercise, head for the Weeki Wachee River. You can stroll through the lovely woods that line both sides of the river or pedal your way along—with a helmet, of course.

For those who crave something a little more exciting, Buccaneer Bay is a spring-fed waterpark located at Weeki Wachee Springs. There are numerous water rides like high-speed slides and flumes, or you can splash around or swim in the clear waters of the springs. When you need a break, lay out on the white sand beach or settle into an inflated tube and drift along a gentle tube ride.

The Weeki Wachee River can be all things to all people. It’s an exciting park filled with activities that will get your heart pumping, or it’s a tranquil spot where you can relax and simply enjoy nature. Whatever you make of it, it is a beautiful part of Florida that has been enjoyed by generations of families. So grab your backpack or bike, your kayak or scuba gear, or just your family and a basket of homemade sandwiches, and head for the Weeki Wachee River for a day—or more—of fun.