Featured Day Trip: Manatee Encounter


Trip Overview

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


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

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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