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Paddle Weeki Wachee, Weeki Wachee Springs, kayak, canoe, FloridaPaddle Weeki Wachee, Weeki Wachee Springs, kayak, canoe, Florida

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Updated: 03/12/2013

Weeki Wachee River... Paddling and Mermaids

Weeki Wachee Springs is famous as an attraction featuring the Weeki Wachee mermaids and is now owned and operated by the State of Florida as part of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The first magnitude spring feeds the Weeki Wachee River which extends 8 miles to the Gulf of Mexico at Bayport. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 8 miles
Location: Hernando County (US 19 and SR 50)
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Tidal: Partially, where the river meets the Gulf
Launch points: Weeki Wachee State Park, Rogers Park, Bayport
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: At the State Park and at Rogers Park (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Buccaneer Bay

The run between Weeki Wachee and Rogers Parks is a popular weekend destination - the best paddling is on weekdays to avoid the weekend paddlers and tubers. Manatees are common, especially in cooler weather. Other wildlife include otter, alligators, turtles, deer, and a variety of fish and birds.

Due to the strong current, paddling downstream is an easy ride and upstream more strenuous. The river upstream is usually clear, with many twists and turns - beautiful and wild through park and forest. Downstream, development increases with many homes along the river banks and the water more tea colored. Continuing downstream to the Gulf the river widens, flowing past open flats and sawgrass. Closer to the Gulf, high winds and tide can create rough water and challenging paddling.

Motorboats are allowed and motor traffic can be busy, with more as the river approaches the Gulf (popular with fishermen). Watch also for the river boat that launches from the park. A few houses line the river between the 2 and 3.5 mile markers; at Weeki Wachee Gardens (approaching Rogers Park) are many more homes and a maze of canals.

Paddling at Weeki Wachee River
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Weeki Wachee State Park to Rogers Park
We paddled the 5.5 miles from Weeki Wachee State Park to Rogers Park, using the Kayak Shack shuttle to drop us off at the state park then paddle downstream. The swift current made the downstream trip an easy paddle, and we recommend it for casual paddlers for both the ease of the ride and the beautiful scenery. The water upstream is crystal clear. We saw many fish and assorted birds and turtles. We were told there were manatee but didn't see any.
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Launch at State Park We paddled upstream a short distance to the spring, access is restricted. Watch for the tour boat.
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Downstream from the spring Alligator Fish in the crystal
clear water
Springs Coast Environmental Education Center
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Beautiful blue-green colored water Hawk in the tree White heron Turtle
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Near the center of the run, several beaches good for stretching and picnicking Other paddlers Approaching Rogers Park at Weeki Wachee Gardens. Returning to outfitter Rogers Park
Paddling at Bayport
We had not been to Bayport in a couple of years and were pleasantly surprised to find a new kayak/canoe launch and picnic area. Launch from here, or from the boat ramp - trailer parking fee applies. We paddled around the canals in the bayou and under the Cortez Blvd. (SR 50) bridge out to the Gulf. High winds created waves and some challenging (and wet!) paddling. In the bayou are many channels, a good map and GPS are recommended to avoid getting lost in the maze. We also heard air boats (though could not see them), so be careful.
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Boat ramp at Bayport Canoe/kayak launch at Bayport From boat ramp toward the mouth of the river From boat ramp up the canals Homes along the canal at Bayport
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In the bayou Cross here to the river or continue on the bayou Exploring the smaller channels Bridge under Cortez Blvd. Out to the Gulf
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On the Gulf Back to launch Fishing pier at park
on Gulf
Picnic area and boardwalk View of Gulf from boardwalk
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
In addition to the spring and mermaids, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, picnicking, and restaurant. Other activities are the Buccaneer Bay water park (Florida's only spring-fed water park), and a River Boat Cruise.
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Weeki Wachee Spring and Buccaneer Bay Mermaid show Riverboat cruise The riverboat shares the river with kayakers Animal show

More information on paddling at Weeki Wachee (opens in a new window):

- Florida State Parks - Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- Weeki Wachee Springs

 See also: Paddling on Florida's Nature Coast at Crystal River, Homosassa River, and Chassahowitza River 

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Weeki Wachee River

Outfitters/Rentals

The Kayak Shack

Paddling Adventures


Support and Advocacy

Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park


Weeki Wachee, Florida, weather forecast