December 4, 2015

Into The Wild At Wekiva Island

Nothing man-made can compete with the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.

Which is why one Sunday morning in November, while canoeing on a river, we were asked by some British folk in a canoe passing by if we thought the alligator sunning itself was real.

It looked too cool to be real.

We caught this guy sunning himself as we paddled by.

It was real. 

Welcome to Florida!

Wekiva Island collage

We took the kids to Wekiva Island one late morning while exploring Seminole County, because of a picture. I’d come across an image of people swimming at Wekiva Springs State Park and it looked surreal, and I. Had. To. Go. There. (This is how a lot of adventures start with me. A single picture.)

Exploring Wekiva Springs

There were quite a few people swimming in the spring water at Wekiva Springs State Park. Entrance is $2 per canoe.

There were quite a few people swimming in the spring water at Wekiva Springs State Park. Entrance is $2 per canoe.

You can opt to go straight to the state park and get your swimming-in-a-spring on right away, or go the route we did – canoe from Wekiva Island (or if you’ve got all day, standup paddleboard your way there).

Seth from Wekiva Island gave us a primer on the water trail – if we wanted a short trip (yes please), then we’d head left at the fork in the water and head toward Wekiva Springs State Park. It’d be about 30 minutes of paddling each way. For a longer adventure, we could take a right at the fork and head to Rock Springs.

Since our kids were still small, we fit four of us in a canoe.

So these waters, guys, were beautiful! Serene and shaded – if you time it right.

In case you're wondering, not a single photo from Mooch's camera turned out.

In case you’re wondering, not a single photo from Mooch’s camera turned out.

You’ll see plenty of waterfowl.

And, yeah, we saw an alligator.

And paddlers. You'll see a lot of paddlers on the river.

And paddlers. You’ll see a lot of paddlers on the river.

Because of my poor planning (we had a flight to catch), we had just enough time to walk around the swimming area, stopping by the nature center to pet a snake and glancing down inviting trails we wouldn’t get to explore.

There's a small nature center at Wekiva Springs State Park. A volunteer was on hand to tell us about animals native to Florida.

There’s a small nature center at Wekiva Springs State Park. A volunteer was on hand to tell us about animals native to Florida. Mooch wasn’t afraid of any of the critters there.

There was no swimming that morning.

There was a lot of whining from the kids.

I wish we had more time there. Two hours to canoe and explore was not enough. It was a setting you can’t find in the Midwest and something that can’t be replicated at any theme park. We’ll be back.

More about Wekiva Island

The view of the water at Wekiva Island. Yeah, I could spend a day there.

The view of the water at Wekiva Island. Yeah, I could spend a day there.

– To get into Wekiva Island, you’ll pay $1 per person (our kids were free). There’s a fun looking bar, sand volleyball court, several lounge chairs and just a general oasis feel to it.

– It’s the kind of place you’d head to with friends for an afternoon of beer and sun. You can swim at Wekiva Island, though we only saw one or two people hanging out in the water, talking to friends sitting in the chairs. The water is a constant 72 degrees there.

Yep. Definitely could spend a day here.

Let’s play spot the tourist.

– You can rent cabanas (tents), which would be great since there isn’t a whole lot of shade at the launch site.

– It’s also a prime spot to rent a canoe, like we did, or a kayak or standup paddleboard. They also let people launch their own watercraft from their dock.

The dock at Wekiva Island

The launch site at Wekiva Island.

– You’ll have to sign a waiver before hitting the water. Save time and do it online here.

 

If you go

Wekiva Island

Where: 1014 Miami Springs Drive, Longwood, Florida

Cost: Canoe ($30 before noon; $25 after); single kayak ($30 before noon; $25 after); double kayak ($35 before noon; $30 after); paddleboads ($40 before noon; $35 after noon; $30 after 4 p.m.); boat launches are $10-$20.

Note: No alcohol is allowed on the water.

Website

 

Additional posts about Seminole County

Central Florida Adventure 

ZoomAir Adventure Park Orlando (Sanford, Florida) 

Central Florida Zoo (Sanford, Florida) 

Hilton Altamonte Springs (Altamonte Springs, Florida)

Tips on Flying Allegiant from Omaha to Orlando Sanford International Airport 

Disclaimer: A special thanks goes to Seminole County for hosting our Florida adventure. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

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