We came up with a solution to our Coronavirus travel blues and are focusing on amazing Florida staycation locations and activities. Recently we had an awesome family day at Weeki Wachee kayaking and today I’m sharing all of the insider tips on what to wear, what to bring and more.
We felt safe spending the day outdoors in the bright Florida sun—splashing in the refreshing water, jumping from trees into the crystal clear waves, kayaking on the river and excited to see the manatee stroll by our boats (more common that you might think!).
Weeki Wachee is on our list of places to visit at least a couple of times a year, so keep reading and you’ll see why!
Even when other adventurers were on the water we were naturally “socially distanced.” And it’s nice to know that Coronavirus is not transmissible through the water.
So, I wanted to share all of our insider tips for a great day at Weeki Wachee, including everything you need to bring for a fun day of Weeki Wachee kayaking. Not too far from Tampa, Florida and a drivable distance from Orlando, Florida as well!
Keep reading for all of our tips and tricks for kayaking with kids and adventuring at Weeki Wachee.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
“Weeki Wachee” was named by the Seminole Indians. It means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found.Weeki Wachee
If you’ve never heard about the Weeki Wachee State Park then you are missing out. It is one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the United States. In fact, it is so deep no one has ever reached the bottom.
117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water wells up out of underground caverns each day. This makes the springs appealing to wildlife like the manatee, particularly when the weather cools and they search for warmer water.
Weeki Wachee is best known for its live mermaid shows. From its inception in 1947 young women used underwater breathing hoses, 20 feet below the surface, in an underwater theater to give the illusion of underwater mermaids.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has been the location for movies and the inspiration for songs. It’s a great historical location that transcends time and brings joy to thousands of families every year.
Weeki Wachee Kayaking
For our kayaking trip on Weeki Wachee River, we used Kayak Shack rentals. Unlike other kayaking trips you may have heard about there is no need to drive to a secondary location.
Everything is right there on the Weeki Wachee River at the shack, you paddle out and paddle back in —it’s so convenient.
The rental includes the vessel and oars, life jackets, launch fees, and free parking. You can choose from tandem kayaks or canoes, single kayaks, or stand up paddleboards, currently ranging from $35-$40.
Pro-tip: be sure to make reservations so you don’t miss out on a particular rental you want. Especially between the months of March and September.
Flowing from the spring, the Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.Weeki wachee
You can also head out right from Weeki Wachee state park (and take a van ride back once you make it downriver) for $40, which gives some different views OR you could launch with your own vessel for just $10.
If you do go to Weeki Wachee out of season no worries. The warm water from the springs keeps it a comfortable 72 degrees. This will likely feel great to out of state vacationers.
And it helps with even more manatee sightings which is one of our favorite parts of going to Weeki Wachee.
Weeki Wachee Kayaking With Kids Tips
Weeki Wachee kayaking is an adventure for anyone, but when you add in a large family like ours, it’s extra. With 6 children we’ve become accustomed to planning things out. A little forethought prevents a lot of issues before they even happen.
Safety When Kayaking With Kids
It’s essential to go out on the water with the proper safety gear, and for kids, it’s required to have a U.S Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device for the proper weight and size. This means you can’t bring water wings or your pool floats to use as a PFD.
Personal floatation devices are sized for infants 8-30 pounds, children 30-50 pounds and youth 50-90 pounds. Thankfully, Kayak Shack and most other kayak rental facilities include PFDs in the cost of the kayak rental, but most don’t keep infant-sized floats on hand, so if you have someone that fits into that category, you’ll need to bring your own.
This also applies if you’re using your own kayak, like these awesome inflatable kayaks!! You’re still required to have a PFD on the vessel for each person on board.
Here is a great Coast Guard Approved PFD for infants/toddlers, and here is a Coast Guard Approved life jacket for the 30-50 pound range.
100 million Americans planning to enjoy a holiday with their loved ones in the summer months and 70% of US families ‘very likely’ to have one in the next year.condor
Keep reading for my best Weeki Wachee kayaking with kids tips.
Planning Your Trip to Weeki Wachee
When you are planning your Weeki Wachee kayaking trip with the family you need to keep in mind the age, experience, and endurance of your children. You know your children best, so it’s likely you have an idea of how long they can hang with you.
Think about how far you want to go and don’t forget you have to add in the time and effort to make it back. Plan for breaks along the way.
Rental pick up at Kayak Shack starts at 8 a.m. and stops at noon, but you may continue to enjoy your kayaks for the day until 5 p.m.
Think about who is going in which vessel and coach your children on this ahead of time. This prevents prelaunch tantrums.
Tandem kayaks fit 2 people, but you might squeeze a toddler in the middle. The canoes seat three, so you could even fit a couple of smaller children to one seat if needed.
Don’t forget to have everyone go to the bathroom and put on their sunscreen before leaving the shore.
Now for the really important part—what to bring.
What to Bring to Weeki Wachee Kayaking
Dress for success. Have your littles, and you, in swimsuits layered with clothes on top. We often use rashguards for the children to protect them from burning their shoulders in the bright Florida sun, so then no extra shirt necessary.
Wear water shoes for playing in the water to protect your feet from sharp rocks and any broken glass that might be there.
What to Wear to Weeki Wachee
- water shoes
Be sure to have a wet bag (a waterproof dry bag) to keep all of your important things dry. We throw our wallet, phones, and keys inside and tie it to the boat so it doesn’t get lost if we tip.
What to Bring to Weeki Wachee Kayaking
- wet bag
- change of clothes
- bug spray
- reusable water bottles (for each person)
- waterproof camera
- a small cooler with lunch and snacks
- tarp for picnics or rain (optional)
- binoculars or a monocular (optional)
- paper and pencil for kids to make observations (optional)
- ponchos or umbrellas (optional)
- (DON’T bring anything glass)
Staycations are likely to make travelers feel more comfortable as they are familiar with the location, they can potentially avoid flying, as well as other benefits of staying within your own country such as reduced travel time and no language barrier.travel daily news
Traveling With Kids for a Florida Staycation
I hope you aren’t letting Coronavirus hold you back from making wonderful memories with your children. We simply need to get a little more creative and conscientious with the choices we make.
I think a Weeki Wachee kayaking trip is the perfect solution for a fun Florida family vacation idea during the pandemic. It’s great getting out of the house for a while and it’s a lower risk activity to stay a safe distance while around other people. And of course, you can always wear a mask while you are getting your rental.
Once you are on the water it’s freeing. You’re immersed in nature and the worries of everyday life melt away.
Check out our travel posts for more travel tips for traveling with kids. And if you are interested in more Florida staycation ideas I think you would love reading this post on Spectacular Things to Do in Naples FL This Weekend. It’s another great unique Florida vacation spot that isn’t an amusement park jam-packed full of people.
You’ve got this momma. You can still make those quality memories that summer is all about.
Have you done a Weeki Wachee kayaking trip before? Tell me your creative vacation ideas in the comments below, so we can all be inspired!