Weeki Wachee home of the famous mermaids became a household name in Florida, back in the 40’s and 50’s when the mermaids became a hit, roadside attraction, right off of our own US-19.
Now, Weeki Wachee is no longer a city and way more than just the mermaids. While the mermaids are still a big part of the draw, and garner national attention, there is a whole world to discover at Weeki Wachee.
Weeki Wachee is now a mermaid filled amusement park, an adventure outside of the city, a nostalgic roadside attraction, a spring fed river, and my favorite – a snorklers paradise.
Due to COVID-19 the park and the mermaids are not currently in action, some might think ‘why go if there’s no mermaids?’ Well, the river provides fun no park can ever recreate.
Even during these tumultuous times, you can explore the magic of the spring fed river and have a day filled of fun and wonder.
The canoe/SUP/kayak launch is still launching everyday starting at 8AM, you just have to reserve your spot online – and be sure to plan ahead, weekend spots can fill up a month in advance!
The park has kayaks and canoes and paddle boards to rent, or you can bring your own… our plan of action to help avoid lines, plus look how pretty our boards our!
Reserving a private launch is only $10 if you bring your own board.
The launch starts up by the actual park. When you arrive your bags will be checked for alcohol and you will have to dispose of any single use products, if you’re packing a lunch, be sure to pack it in just a container with no paper or bag or tinfoil and leave it in a lunch box or cooler!
Once you get in the water, the rivers current starts taking you down the six miles to Rogers Park. Don’t be alarmed – six miles seems far, but you can stop at so many resting points along the way, plus the current is strong enough to help you down the stream. The hardest part of the paddle is getting around each curve without hitting the trees…something I did A LOT.
North of the launching point is the actual spring… we sadly, did not paddle to since we did not know until about a mile in… but the spring feeds the whole river, so for the next six miles you’re in the clear, cool, fresh spring water.
The second we hit the water, we wanted to stop. The water is crystal clear and showcases the surplus of fish and marine life meandering through the sea grass.
The river has massive patches of white sand at the bottom that the sun shines directly through the water to, to give a beautiful blue coloring.
The river is breath taking.
We struggled to not stop every 100 feet to dive.
The river is wide enough so there is no worry of getting hit by a wild kayaker while pulling off to the side. Just be careful to secure your kayak or board since the current is fast and strong. I would also suggest a flotation device for anyone looking to dive that is not a strong swimmer – I even struggled at points and I’ve been swimming since I could crawl!
Also, if you have them, definitely wear your flippers to help get to the bottom of the river.
The first half of the river was full dive spots and little beaches where we could rest and have a bite to eat!
The first half of the river is rural and secluded, with only a few *giant* houses along the rivers edge. Due to the lack of civilization, the waters are calm with no boats in sight.
Once you get halfway down the river, you start to get into town, with branches of the river going off in every which way with houses dotting the rivers edge. The river gets crowded with less places to hop off, but the scenery is still spectacular and fun to gaze up at.
With about two miles left of the river, we hit the local party spot, there was even a floating bar/sweet shop/hot dog stand! The owner was awesome, and he even plays Disney music when children are around… and yes, I belted out every word to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”
You may also notice the river loses it’s clarity and blueness and hones a yellow tint, don’t be alarmed, it is just the tannin in the leaves discoloring the water, the same way tea leaves color your morning cup of tea!
Once you’ve made it the six miles, you can either stop at Rogers Park – where the complimentary shuttle will take you back to the starting point to retrieve your car – or, you can paddle another mile to the gulf. We opted for the first option, but we will definitely come back with more food to paddle out to the gulf!
Weeki Wachee has become a staple attraction of the Tampa Bay, most people come for the mermaids but if you’re looking for a little more adventure and a work out, take a paddle down the river. The river is full of fun and people to befriend, they may even tell you where to hit up next!
Follow along on social to see where I’ll be heading next!
Check out our video snorkeling at Weeki Wachee!