Weeki Wachee Florida is located in Hernando County Florida. It is a very small town. Still, tourists come for the famous Weeki Wachee Springs! Weeki Wachee Springs is the deepest naturally formed Spring in the United States with a maximum depth of 125 meters of fresh water. This naturally formed Spring is crystal clear!
Are there Alligators in the Weeki Wachee River?
Florida is famous for its alligator population, but the Weeki-Wachee River is easy enough to navigate as you can see what’s ahead. Alligators don’t usually hang out in the Weeki-Wachee River because they try and stay away from areas where there are lots of people, especially kayakers who paddle through the river. However, there can be alligators along the banks, but it’s especially important to steer away from the banks to help preserve wildlife around them.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Information
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is open 365 Days of the year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park is divided into the River portion where you can kayak/paddleboard or go to the actual park section. The park section consists of The Wilderness River Cruise, Buccaneer Bay Water Park, The Underwater Mermaid Show, and the Ranger Experience. It is best to plan ahead and make reservations as it’s hard to enter the park and participate in any of these things even on a first-come-first-served basis. Parking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is free.
Kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
If you bring your own kayak, which is what we did, it cost $6 per person (including children) to do a private launch. If you rent a kayak or a paddleboard, the cost starts at $32+ per person not including tax depending on what type of kayak or paddleboard you get. They want you to complete the 2.8-mile journey within 2 hours so they can stay on time with their reservation calendar.
The State Park is absolutely stunning and extremely clear! But if you don’t get there early, you will find yourself with less space and thereby less beauty. A very important mention to note is swimming and exiting your boat are not allowed while in the state park. And there is a video that you’ll have to watch called Weeki Fresh Water Disposable 2021.mp4 on Vimeo. There is a single-use items ban, ie. you are only allowed to bring certain items along with you on your kayak or paddleboard.
Weeki Wachee Springs is the home of Real Mermaids
One of Florida’s oldest attractions is the Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs. When you first watch it before you go, you may think that the show is going to be childish. But to our amazement, it was not childish. All the adults in the audience appeared to have a great time as well. The fact the mermaids were real human women really helped create authenticity in the show. The tube that they were breathing from while swimming and opening up their mouths underwater was really neat and it appears really complex as well. The show itself was based on a Hans Christian Anderson play. While we would not go see it twice, we would highly recommend seeing it once for yourself. The Mermaid Show is only offered at 11 a.m., 1:30p.m, and 3:00 p.m and the shows are weather dependent.
Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Besides the Mermaid Show, people flock to Weeki Wachee to swim, snorkel and go down the water slides in this natural spring. The water temperature is a comfortable 72 degrees for all to enjoy. If Buccaneer Bay is not open, we would not recommend going to Weeki Wachee Springs park section that day.
The Ranger Experience at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
The Ranger Experience is held at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 p.m. A friendly Park Ranger gives you insight into some of the wildlife home to the Weeki Wachee area. It’s like a show and tell event where he will show you the wildlife as well. Of the many show and tell wildlife experiences that we have been to, it is actually well done. The Park Ranger is very thoughtful, knowledgeable, and funny. He doesn’t try to scare people unlike other Florida events like these tend to be. So it’s a good event for kids and the faint of heart.
The Wilderness River Cruise at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Unfortunately, the Wilderness River Cruise which is really nice is limited to running 3 hours a day typically from 9:30 to 12:30 each day. The boat itself doesn’t seat many people, as such reservations are required. It is a short tour of the actual Springs to include a short education about the plant and wildlife in the Springs. The River Cruise is free with admission to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The Cruise is better for people with mobility issues and or older people.
Watch for Wildlife along the Weeki Wachee Springs
The best time to see wildlife along the Weeki Wachee River is in the morning on a weekday when the river is quiet and there are not so many people on it. If you stay quiet as you paddle by, you can see Barred Owls camouflaged within the trees. There are also some raccoons lurking around who are as interested in you as you are in them. These fellows are very cute but don’t be tempted to touch them or allow them on your kayak, as they can carry roundworm, leptospirosis, salmonella, and rabies. On a lighter note, you can catch blue herons and anhingas hanging around closer to the banks. There is also plenty of fish swimming in the Springs that can easily be seen while in a kayak. The Weeki Wachee River is so well preserved and protected, that these animals don’t mind being around respectful people.
Manatee Spotting in Weeki Wachee Springs
Manatees can be found closer to Roger’s Park. They are known as underwater sea cows for a reason. They are gentle and giant like the size of a cow. We were lucky enough to see one swimming by. And if you don’t bother the manatee, you can kayak right next to them. I would certainly not allow one to go under you, especially if you are paddleboarding, as we have seen a paddleboarder fall off of their board once as the manatee came up for air. They are not aggressive animals so be kind to them. Below you’ll see a video of a manatee that we were lucky to follow.
Can you swim at Weeki Wachee Springs?
You can swim at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park but only near the water slides. You can’t actually swim in the Springs area of the State Park. This is a protected area for wildlife. If you continue to paddle and kayak past the actual state park, near Rogers Park, there are plenty of areas to swim, but the area does get pretty busy with boaters, so swimming is limited to splashing in the water.
Make a Weekend of Your Visit to Weeki Wachee Springs
Overall, enjoying a weekend at these beautiful Springs is something we would highly recommend if you enjoy being in the water. It is a part of Florida that is less touristy and more secluded. Due to the size of Weeki Wachee Springs, it is less of an area to go bicycling, than it is to go kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. Because the Springs are open to the public, boaters are allowed but there isn’t much space to boat along the Springs. Boaters should instead use the beautiful ocean/Gulf of Mexico as there is much more space to enjoy.
Where to Stay in Weeki Wachee Springs
While there are some smaller hotels in Weeki Wachee, we would highly recommend staying at an Airbnb along the river. Our favorite Airbnb in Weeki Wachee Springs is at the Lucky Duck Lodge on East Richard Drive. It’s a perfect location to drop your kayaks from their backyard into the Springs without ever having to leave your stay. The amenities at this location are fantastic including kayaks and paddleboards if you don’t own them. The hosts are fantastic people as well and the neighborhood is pretty safe.
Best Place to Catch a Sunset a Weeki Wachee Springs
The best place to catch a sunset at Weeki Wachee Springs is at Pine Island Park! We would highly recommend getting here 30 minutes before the sunsets that day! Parking is free but is hard to get. Parking is also very limited. We have traveled to many places and if you know me, I love sunrises and sunsets, but the best sunset we have ever seen thus far is Pine Island Park as the sunsets along the Gulf of Mexico! The view is so clear and so spectacular that we went 2 days in a row! If you grab some dinner and come back to Pine Island Park, you can also catch the beautiful night sky here as well. It is so quiet and dark here, that the sky lights up magically.