Featured Day Trip: Manatee Encounter


Trip Overview

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Journey with us to Blue Springs State Park, winter home to one of Florida’s largest populations of Manatee. On most days we witness hundreds relaxing in the spring alone. We will observe from a distance as our Florida Master Naturalist introduces us all to the flora and fauna that make up this wild area.


Blue Springs State Park

  • Largest spring on the Saint Johns River.
  • Designated National Manatee Refuge
  • Historical home of the Timucuan Indians
  • Visited in 1766 by British botanist John Bartram

Our group will paddle to the entrance to the spring run, park the kayaks, then walk the entire length of the spring run for a guided walk with plenty of time for photographs. Afterwards we will paddle towards the snake river and or Hontoon Island.

Hontoon Island. This area of river is packed with manatee, otter, and sun worshipping gators. Overhead bald eagle, osprey, and red shoulder hawks scan the water and marshes for their next meal. On the river bank people will spot large wading birds, coots, morehens, and the occasional wild hog.

Hontoon Island has a wonderful nature trail that leads to an ancient Indian shell mound.

The park is also famous for its large owl population and extensive Indian artifacts including the state’s largest totem pole.


Dates:  Tours run everyday between November-March at 9:00 am. Private tours are available any date at anytime for groups of 4 or more. Tour lasts 2-3 hours. All tours include guides, kayaks, paddling gear, bottled water, and a dry bag.

Price:  $80 per person + 6.5% Florida sales tax
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Driving Directions from Orlando

Take I-4 east towards Daytona Beach, exit 111B toward Orange City. Follow the signs to Blue Springs State Park. When you get to the Park located on French Ave. Pass the park and follow French Ave. till the road ends in about 3/4 mile. The road ends at a boat ramp on the river. Your guides will be there with a big white van pulling a trailer load of kayaks.

Blue Spring State Park
2100 W French Ave
Orange City, FL 32763

What You Need To Bring

  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sun screen)
  • Wear clothes that can get wet and possibly dirty
  • Waterproof camera
  • Tips for your guides

*As the weather warms up in March, less and less manatee will be in the spring. Once this occurs we will seek them out in the main river.

Featured Expedition- Undiscovered Nicaragua

Kayak, paddle, and explore Grenada Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Trip Overview

Welcome to Nicaragua, the very heart of the Americas. A lush tropical land with its sun-covered beaches, clear lakes, winding mountain rivers, volcanic islands, and by far the friendliest people. Traveling by foot, kayak, carriage, and private vans our group will discover the country’s amazing Spanish towns and villages with their eye-catching architecture, picturesque backdrops, and truly fascinating history.

Kayak, tour, and feast in Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Facts At A Glance

  • Level of Difficulty: Easy paddling each day with lots of breaks for relaxing, wildlife viewing, and exploring.
  • Dates: November 21-28, 2015
  • Trip Origination: Managua International Airport
  • What’s Included: Lodging, kayaks, entrance fees, airport pick up/drop off, all ground transportation during the tour, local Nicaraguan guides, all breakfasts, three dinners, and all day tours.
  • What’s Not Included: Flights, lunches, alcoholic beverages, four dinners, and any unscheduled activities.
  • Price: $1,200 per person, double occupancy.



Day 1 — (Saturday) Arrive and meet at Managua International Airport. Once all parties have arrived, our private van will take us to Hotel Terrasol, in the lovely town of Granada. Once everyone is settled in, Greg will make introductions, go over the week’s agenda, and answer any questions regarding the trip. Dinner will be in route to our hotel.

Cultural tour with kayaking and exploring in Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Day 2 — (Sunday) After a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast, our local guide will take us on a walking/carriage ride tour of the historical town of Grenada. On our tour we will visit:

  • the San Francisco Convent and Church  The oldest church in Central America and the most striking building in Granada, Iglesia San Francisco boasts a robin’s-egg-blue birthday cake facade and houses one of the best museums in the region. Originally constructed in 1585, pirates burned it to the ground and William Walker rebuilt in it 1868. In 1989, the church was restored to its former glory. The museum’s highlights include top-notch Primitivist art, a scale model of the city, and a group of papier-mâché indigenous people cooking, relaxing in hammocks and swinging on comelazatoaztegams, a sort of 360-degree see-saw.
  • The Zapatera statuary  The main reason we visit here, are two solemn regiments of black-basalt statues looming above large men and possessed of 10 times their gravity, carved between AD 800 and 1200, then left behind on the ritual island of Zapatera. Most were discovered in the late 1880s and gathered in Granada in the 1920s.
  • The Granada cemetery  Used between 1876 and 1922, this beautiful cemetery has lots of picturesque mausoleums and tombs, including those of six Nicaraguan presidents. Most people come to see the 1880 neoclassical stone Capilla de Animas (Chapel of Spirits), a scale model of the French chapel of the same name. Close by is another scale model, this time of Notre Dame cathedral.
  • La Polvora fort  A warehouse built in 1748 to store gunpowder. We will visit its old towers, which give you an amazing view of the city. Xalteva Church and Walls: Here the Spanish met the Xalteva native population, from which the neighborhood gets its name. This is the oldest part of Granada. The church was built during colonial times and because of its location, was used as a military fort.
  • Chocolate museum and tour (Hotel Terrasol)

Kayak Ometepe Island in Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Day 3 — (Monday) Time to get on the water and get some paddling time in. Today we kayak and explore the Isletas of Lake Nicaragua.

When the Mombacho Volcano erupted thousands of years ago, it threw huge rocks into Lake Nicaragua. As a result of this violent eruption 365 islets were formed in front of Granada. The islets differ in size between a hundred square meters and over one hundred hectares. Most of the people living here are fishermen.There are also uninhabited islets with only some palm trees growing on it.

Nicaragua kayak adventure with Adventures in Florida.

The wild nature, resident birds and visitors and the day-a-day routine of the local families make it an ideal place for kayaking around the lake.

You can slowly pass by the islands and catch a glimpse of the immensity of Lake Nicaragua. The birdlife around the islands is abundant. You can see cormorants, herons, parrots, hawks, vultures, and many other birds. The lake also houses lots of fish. Sweet water shark once crowded the lake, but this unique animal is nowadays threatened with extinction and barely ever seen. You can see the huge Mombacho Volcano arise right next to the lake.(Hotel Terrasol)

Day 4 — (Tuesday) Early morning today, Our private van will be picking us up at 6am. so we can make the ferry over to the amazing Ometepe Island. On the island we will visit:

  • Altagracia church with its stone statues.
  • Balgue: Finca Magdalena a cooperative that grows organic coffee.
  • Santo Domingo: Wonderful beach between the 2 volcanoes. We will lunch at the beachfront with extra time time for relaxing and swimming.
  • Charco Verde: Home of the Mythological figure, Chico Largo. You learn about this mysterious legend while walking around the lagoon enjoying the flora and fauna of this ecological reserve.

Our hotel for the evening is Hotel Charco Verde Inn. Considered one of the island’s finest, our hotel is wrapped around a jungle-shrouded, pearl-grey beach at the very entrance to the Charco Verde Ecological Preserve and the newly opened Mariposario. Rooms have attractive locally hand made furniture, polished wood ceilings, private terraces surrounded by lush tropical gardens, and excellent modern bathrooms. Dinner will be prepared and served on the lakefront.

Day 5 — (Wednesday) Start the morning with a swim or a long walk on the loop trail through the nature preserve. Keep an eye out for the howler monkeys. Soon after breakfast we will make our way back to the small village of Moyogalpa to catch our ferry off the island. Keep your cameras handy, The best views of the Volcano Concepcion are on the boat ride away from the island.

Our hotel for the next few days will be the Backpackers Inn. Do not let the name fool you. This is not a youth hostel filled with intoxicated poor college kids who don’t know how to pick up after themselves. Just the opposite. Take a look at http://www.backpackers-inn.com/

Kayak Ometepe Island in Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Day 6 — (Thursday) Today we will spend the entire day exploring, playing, and relaxing at Reserva Natural Laguna De Apoyo. This natural gem is hidden deep into a richly forested volcanic crater created some 23,000 years ago. The crystal clear sparkling water covers Central America’s lowest point. The clean water is fed by hidden volcanic springs and is saturated with minerals that people believe have amazing therapeutic powers.

The Reserve is home to sloths, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, jaguarundis, and six endemic species of fish. Popular activities include snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, wind surfing, and relaxing on the lakeshore.

Tonight dinner will take place at Zaguan. Known as the best place in Nicaragua for authentic churrascos. This will be our consummate Granada dinning experience. The decor is delightful. What used to be a garage has been transformed into a romantic, festive restaurant.
(Hotel Backpacker inn)

Day 7 — (Friday) Masaya Volcano, just a few miles south-east of Managua, is one of Nicaragua’s most active and unusual volcanoes.

In contrast to most other volcanoes in subduction zones, it has been erupting mainly fluid basaltic lava. At the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, it contained an active lava lake and it is reported that there were attempts to extract the volcano’s molten “gold.”

Explore, kayak, and tour Nicaragua with Adventures in Florida.

Masaya is a complex consisting of a 6×11.5 km large caldera with steep, up to 300 m high walls, and a group of young cones at the NW end including Nindirí and Masaya volcano proper. There are multiple summit craters including the currently active Santiago crater, the site of the current activity. See and learn more at: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/masaya.html.

Our group will hike up to the active smoking crater and dormant crater; we will also visit the Park museum.

A short drive will get us to the Mercado de Artesanía. Here we will find traditionally made local ceramics & woodcrafts, hammocks, jewelry, and leather work. At the end of town we can visit the amazing Catarina lookout with its breath taking view of Apoyo Crater Lake.

On our drive back to Grenada we will visit a working pottery studio/school that still employs the same techniques as the early Myan.

Our farewell dinner will be in Granada at the Comidas Tipicas y Mas, the most famous restaurant for traditional Nicaraguan meals. With so much comfort food most everyone will want to walk the few blocks back to our hotel. (Hotel Backpackers Inn)

Day 8 — (Saturday) One last traditional Nicaraguan breakfast and coffee before we say our goodbyes. Greg will happily make any transportation arrangements back to the airport for folks. Everyone is encouraged to continue traveling in Nicaragua and beyond. For folks wanting to stay longer, Greg will be heading out to the Corn Islands for an additional 3 days of kayaking, beach combing, and serious relaxing.

Nicaragua kayak tour with Adventures in Florida.

Meals and Accommodations

We will divide our lodging between the amazing Hotel Terrasol and the Backpackers Inn. Both are charming and the backpackers has a great pool. Breakfasts will be provided and served at the hotels, lunches will be out, and dinners will be at the Terrasol or at a local restaurant.

Important! Be sure to download the mandatory Registration forms.

What People Are Saying About Us

5 of 5 starsReviewed August 10, 2014     5 STARS!

We’ve lived in Florida for over 20 years, and have been to many scenic springs and beaches in the state. This nighttime bioluminescence kayaking experience was, by far, the most fun our family of 4 has had – unanimously. It’s like nothing we’ve ever experienced. The fish in the water literally look like shooting stars.

I’m not a big outdoorsy person, and kayaking was much easier than I thought it would be. It does not take Herculean upper body strength or great balance. A small stroke and you just glide through the water. The guides are positioned in front of and behind the group, which keeps everyone together, and the trip takes about 2 hours, but feels much shorter, especially when you get caught up paddling to the dolphins that are playing around.

Our kids are 13 and 12, which I think is a great age for this activity. Greg was very knowledgeable and friendly, explaining what we were seeing and offering easygoing tips to help maximize the light show. He told my son and I to dip our hands into the water – our hands came back up looking like there were tiny diamonds scattered all over them. Then the “diamonds” disappeared. This totally blew our minds. My son, who is more into video games than I’d like him to be, had a delightful reaction and spontaneously blurted out, “Oh Mom! Thank you!” I’ve never heard awe in his voice like that before. Fortunately it was dark and nobody had to see me get misty.

Get those kids that are growing up fast on this amazing, memory-making family excursion. Drive the hour from Disney if you have to. You will not be disappointed.

Visited August 2014

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