What to Expect at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Crystal clear waters of Weeki Wachee River
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About Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

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. 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.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park entrance
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Activities on Weeki Wachee River

Due to COVID-19 the park, and the mermaids, are not currently in action. Some might think ‘why go if there are 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.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Weeki Wachee River
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Planning for Weeki Wachee River

The canoe/SUP/kayak launch is still launching everyday starting at 8AM. 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 $6 if you bring your own board. If you rent a kayak or board it will cost $32-$48.

The launch starts up by the actual park. When you arrive your bags will be checked for alcohol and any single use products. If you’re packing a lunch, be sure to pack it in just a container with no paper, bag, or tinfoil and leave it in a lunch box or cooler!

On the River

Once you get in the water, the rivers current starts taking you down the six miles to Rogers Park. 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 river. The hardest part of the paddle is getting around each curve without hitting the trees…something I did A LOT.

Taking a paddling break
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Channeling my Water Tribe vibes

North of the launching point is the spring that feeds Weeki Wachee River. We sadly, did not paddle to since we did not know until about a mile in – but highly suggest taking the paddle over. The spring feeds the whole river, so for the next six miles you’re in the clear, cool, fresh spring water.

Beware of the river temperature. Weeki Wachee is spring fed, so the water stays between 72 and 74 degrees, year round.

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.

Weeki Wachee River
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Snorkeling on Weeki Wachee River

We struggled to not stop every 100 feet to dive.

The river is wide so there is no worry of getting hit by a wild kayaker while pulling off. 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.

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 rested and ate!

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.

Hardened sand found snorkeling at Weeki Wachee
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The sand hardened at the bottom of the river to create a rock like substance

Once you get halfway down the river, you start to get into town. The river branches 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 its 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!

Where to End Your Paddle

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!

More to Explore

Weeki Wachee can be crowded and filled with tourist. If you’re looking for a quieter experience look to The Chazz, a local known river. For a more intense paddling session, you can explore the sand bars and islands in the Tampa Bay!

Follow along on social to see where I’ll be heading next!

Check out our video snorkeling at Weeki Wachee!

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