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Weeki Wachee River Report

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Report By:  ed    Date: 5/10/2006 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 8 photos     Map & Directions: View

It was way too long since my last trip to Weeki Wachee (pronounced WEEK-E, WATCH-E). This time I made the trip mid-week to avoid the crowds and hoped to snap a few photos. I rented a kayak from the local outfitter and here's my story.

My Report:

I can't help but steal a few lines from's website to start this trip report. "If you thought mermaids were just the lively imaginings of lonely sailors, think again -- and come to Weeki Wachee Springs, the City of Live Mermaids, on the Gulf Coast of Florida."

Here's a trip that will take you through some of the finest "wild" areas on Florida's nature coast, complete with alligators, manatees, raccoons, deer, snakes and numerous species of birds and fish. You'll pass by interesting old-style Florida cottages and some huge new McMansions. After the 6.5 miles downriver, you can catch a quick ride back upstream (and up Hwy 50) and spend a few hours knocking around one of Florida's first roadside attractions, Weeki Wachee Springs.

Let's not keep the mermaids waiting and get this trip started.

My day started early from the Best Western Weeki Wachee Resort. The motel was comfortable enough, but I chose it not because of its tasteful decor (tongue in cheek here), but instead of its proximity to Weeki Wachee Spring. Just across the road are Weeki Wachee Spring and the canoe rental.

The guys at Weeki Wachee Canoe and Kayak Rental hooked me up with a 10 foot sit-on-top for $30 for my one-way 6.5 mile downriver trip. The boat was fine, but I’m glad I brought my own PFD and paddle. I’d recommend you do the same.

Launching from the canoe rental, I immediately headed upstream as far as I could go – about 400 yards before hitting the “no vessels beyond this point” sign near the theme park’s boarding area. From here you can get a glimpse at the theme park and Buccaneer Bay. The water was absolutely crystal clear. I remember a few years back a friend from Colorado asking if the bottom was manmade concrete and plants because he never before saw a white sandy bottom, clear water river.

Turning downstream I paddled about 1 / 2 mile. Here is the old bird observation area and a wooden framed structure stands on a small island. On past trips the structure was always covered with wood storks, but today no wood storks however I did see plenty of ibis. Continuing downstream on the right you’ll see the old Weeki Wachee animal attraction, now home to the Springs Coast Environmental Learning Center perched atop the hillside.

After a few miles downstream, you’ll start to see development again. I was surprised at the number of large homes going up on the south side of the river. Also on the right you’ll come across some developed (tiered) beaches belonging to Withlacoochee Wildlife Management Area / State Forest. There is a $3 fee to land at these beaches. All other spots (other than those marked private property) are free.

A word of caution – do not have alcohol anywhere on the Weeki Wachee – if caught, you’ll get one whopper of a ticket – somewhere around $150 for a single unopened beer.

Continuing downriver, the Weeki Wachee meanders in and out of a number of old Florida cottage/housing areas. In between the developments are canopied stretches where the huge cypress trees give you a break from the hot Florida sun.

Nearing the end of the trip, you’ll pass a house with interesting seawall murals. For those a little shy, these mermaids are missing their tops. For some of us guys, it just offers another great Weeki Wachee photo op.

This trip comes to a close at the take-out point located about 50 feet from the Weeki Wachee Christian Camp. An employee of the canoe rental will wave you down if you go too far. The van arrives at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm. If you miss the 3:30pm van, it’s a pretty hefty late fee. The ride back to the canoe rental takes about 10 minutes.

For those with their own boats and transportation, Roger’s Park at 7244 Shoal Line Blvd makes a good take out point (and adds about 1/3 mile to the trip). For those truly adventuresome, the next stop is Baypoint Park on the gulf, another 2 miles downriver. The landscape changes dramatically as you enter the gulf, with tree lined crystal clear waters giving way to salt marsh habitats.

Final thoughts: All trips need a few more beautiful mermaids who swim in the cool, clear spring waters and Weeki Wachee is sure to please. As their website says, "dreams do come true".

Some GPS Coordinates:
Weeki Wachee Springs – N28.31.151 W82.34.443
Withlacoochee Forest Beach – N28.31.617 W82.35.877
Roger’s Park – N28.31.908 W82.37.575

Weeki Wachee Canoe and Kayak Rental Fees (As of May 2006):
$30 for single kayak
$38 for tandem canoe
$22 for launch and transporting your boat

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 6.5
Fees/Costs $: Varies

Photos from Weeki Wachee River:    (Click image to view full size)

Weeki Wachee Rental Restricted
Weeki Wachee Rental

My rental sit-on-top at Weeki Wachee River.

Weeki Wachee Gator Restricted
Weeki Wachee Gator

Alligator on Weeki Wachee River

Weeki Tree Canopy Restricted
Weeki Tree Canopy

Tree canopy over Weeki Wachee.

Little Blue Heron Restricted
Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron on Weeki Wachee. This guy was quite content to let me snap several pictures as I floated by.

Beautiful Weeki Wach Restricted
Beautiful Weeki Wach

One of the many beautiful spots on the Weeki Wachee River.

Weeki Wachee Canoe Restricted
Weeki Wachee Canoe

Canoes all lined up and ready to go on the Weeki Wachee River.

Weeki Self-Portrait Restricted
Weeki Self-Portrait

That's me, Ed, on the Weeki Wachee. Obviously no fashion sense nor shame.

Save their tails Restricted
Save their tails

Help save Weeki Wachee Springs - the theme park needs you! Visit the park and buy a season pass at

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsJoin beautiful mermaids in their "Save Our Tails" program and help save Weeki Wachee Springs (the theme park). You can help by visiting the park and buying a season pass here: [url][/url]

Post Date: 5/13/2006

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