There are so many opportunities for outdoor adventure in Florida. If it’s outdoor fun you seek on the west coast of Florida, I highly recommend kayaking the Weeki Wachee River – located about an hour north of Tampa. Suitable for the whole family, it is a nice calm ride that’s perfect for beginners. The swift current makes the downstream trip an easy paddle. Paddling becomes slightly more challenging toward the end closer to the Gulf, where the water becomes brackish, but is still suitable for beginner paddlers.
Kayaking the Weeki Wachee River
The spring fed Weeki Wachee River is crystal clear water that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The beautiful scenery is something that even experienced kayakers can appreciate.
The winding trip covers 5.5 miles of river from launch to the pickup area, and winds through the forests and mangroves. There is plenty of wildlife to spot. Expect to see a lot of jumping fish and maybe even some manatee swimming by.
Water temperature is a comfortable 74 degrees year round, and there are plenty of shallow areas where you can get out and enjoy it. Be sure to keep an eye out for rope swings and picnic areas along the way too.
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Kayak rental is available at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with a Rogers Park pick-up point. At the time of my recent visit, the cost per single kayak was $40 or $50 for a double kayak, for a four hour rental period. This includes kayak and paddle rental and and a shuttle back from the pickup area. Paddle board rentals are also available. If you have your own kayak, private launch is available for $6. Advance reservation is required. This is a popular river for kayaking and paddle boarding, so make reservations as far in advance as possible and go on a weekday if you can.
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What should you bring?
Plan to wear a swimsuit, hat, and water shoes. I also recommend suntan lotion and insect repellent.
Other recommended items are a towel, sunglasses, and a dry bag or box for your cell phone and important items such as car keys. Pack a small cooler with plenty of water, snacks or lunch.
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