When we honor Mother Nature, we honor ourselves. I spent my birthday recharging in crystal clear waters, coasting alongside wildlife and watching mermaids after taking a sensationally cool dip in total seclusion. I mean come on. SO dreamy right!!? Unreal. My first time visiting Weeki Wachee was one for the books. I’d like to share some thoughts and tips on how to ensure you have the best first time too!
Planning A Successful Trip
Alright babes let’s get right down to it. The first thing you need to do is reserve and rent your kayak at least a week in advance. Do not do this upon arrival or last minute. Even online reservations get snatched up pretty quickly. There are hourly time slots between 8 AM – 1 PM. It costs $40 each and I recommend getting separate kayaks, even if you are a first-timer. I made the mistake of getting a double seater which was slightly problematic. Looking back now, it’s actually hilarious and an awesome team-building experience, even if one of us did, in fact, get whacked by an unsuspecting tree branch…
You will also have to purchase additional admission tickets to enjoy the separate yet within walking distance Buccaneer Bay Waterpark. It costs $13 per adult. This ticket can only be purchased at the gate and will include the mermaid show. Call or check out the FAQ page for additional information. Be sure to coordinate the mermaid showtimes with your kayak reservations. For example, we reserved our kayak excursion at 9AM. We finish around 1 PM. We missed the 1:30 showtime so we had to wait for the 3PM showtime before heading home, which worked out quite nicely because in between we ate packed lunch and went swimming at Buccaneer Bay.
What to Pack, What to Wear
Clothing: Hat, mini backpack, sunscreen, long sleeves or a coverup for those who don’t want to get burned under the Florida sun. I wore a sporty swimsuit, boardshorts, and a loose-fitting top from Billabong. Snorkel gear or goggles to dive around the springs.
And here is the holy grail of insect repellant. I actually found out about this on Reddit, from a user who went to Africa/Southeast Asia without a single bite using this. IT WORKS!!!!! And this is coming from the girl who gets eaten alive by mosquitos every summer, they get a whiff of my sweet blood and apparently can’t get enough. Bye-bye, sand flies.
Food and Snacks: Bring tons of water. I wish I had packed more water because between the two of us we almost ran out in the sweltering heat. No plastic or single-use plastic items. The park strictly enforces this, which is amazing. They will check your bags to make sure everything is in a proper container with zero potential for trash of any kind. I witnessed a lot of families being upset they had to throw away a lot of food. For example, if you wanted to bring cookies or peanuts, they must be in a container, not the original wrapping. I packed peanut butter sandwiches and fruit in pyrex glass and water in stainless steel bottles.
Remember, the average time to complete the river is 4 hours or so. Pack accordingly and stay hydrated my friends! You will get tired and you will get thirsty!!
Lucky for us, heading in from St. Pete was only an hour car ride. Woke up at 6:30 AM, left by 7 AM and got there around 8:30 AM. We took US-41 cutting through Land O’ Lakes eventually stopping in Brooksville to eat breakfast, which is on the way to Weeki Wachee. I highly recommend going down Cortez Blvd to eat (they have tons of restaurant chains like Ruby Tuesdays, Texas Roadhouse, Cheddars) as you will need all your energy for the day.
Parking is free but limited. There is only one lot and you’ll be able to spot it easily. I’ve included the only map I found below:
Self Guided Tour
The whole thing is a 5 1/2 mile long journey, no joke. I underestimated my athletic ability on this one. Sore for literal DAYS. So about 3 miles in, we trek into uncharted territory. Sidenote: After about 3 miles we passed Weeki Wachee State Park and entered Weeki Wachee River, which is the residential side of things and actually cool af, minus the #MAGA flags and motorboats. Because it’s considered an area of private property, it’s not regulated by state park officials, so homeowners have free reign by law. It physically hurt me to see a trail of oil from boats/jet skis drip into such beautiful waters. Like I was shook. Cringing. You can tell once you leave the State Park how murky the water gets.
Hanging with the Locals
Buccaneer Bay is a kid-friendly natural swimming pool with slides and a beach area, great for families. The admission is included in your ticket to the park and can be purchased at the gate which gets pretty packed in the AM.
Mermaids are Real!
Don’t forget to catch the mermaid showtimes. We caught the last show of the day which wasn’t as packed as the other showtimes. Three words if I had to describe: magical, mesmerizing, and talented! Heart eyes.