Featured Day Trip: Manatee Encounter

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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.

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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 the snake river towards Hontoon Island.

Snake Creek. This creek 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.

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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.

*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.

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. If you use a GPS do not drive on Blue Springs Road or Magnolia!!! You will get stuck in sugar sand!!

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

Featured Lodge Tour: Florida’s Panhandle Paradise

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Experience the stillness, silence, and solitude, paddling the pristine rivers that make up the Blackwater Forest. When combined with its neighbors the Conecuh National Forest and Eglin Air Force Base, you have the world’s largest long leaf pine forest. This ancient forest is home to rare species including the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Pitcher Plants, and Gopher Tortoises, just to name a few.

Each day we will paddle a creek or river section, enjoy a riverside picnic lunch, then return to our incredible private lodge for a sunset happy hour, an amazing dinner, and free time for yourself in the evening.

Facts at a Glance

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  • Level of Difficulty:  Kayaking experience is not needed, however, like most water based outdoor activities, participants should be in good shape and a strong swimmer.
  • Trip Dates: March 29-April 4, 2015
  • Trip Origination: Pensacola International Airport
  • What’s Included: All meals, all ground transportation, van support, kayaks, all kayaking gear, and two local Adventures in Florida guides
  • Price: $1,200 per person, double occupancy

CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR RESERVATION NOW! 

Itinerary

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Day 1 — We will pick everyone up flying at the Pensacola International Airport at noon. We have a favorite lunch spot in town that’s on our way to the lodge. After lunch it is a 30-minute shuttle to our lodge. Once everyone settles in we will have a little dry land paddle instruction, introductions, tour of our lodge, happy hour, and dinner.  Afterwards we will encourage everyone to explore the grounds and hopefully end up at the river for an evening swim with the chance of a  possible moonrise.

Day 2 — The Blackwater River has exceptionally clear and pure water, this added to its white sand bottom make it one of the most popular rivers canoed in Florida. So much so that the Florida legislators proclaimed the nearby town of Milton as the “Canoe Capital of Florida.” We will take our time mostly floating this amazing treasure, stopping for the occasional swim, snack, or water fight. If we can get an early start we might get lucky and spot a Florida bear, bobcat, beaver, or river otter. (11 paddling miles)

Day 3 — We travel deep into the wilds of the Blackwater forest. For most people this is the most aesthetically pleasing landscape on the river. Enormous cedar trees line the bank and shade our course, multi colored bluffs twist to hug the curves of the lazy water, and wildlife peeks its heads out to investigate our presence. (11.5 paddling miles)

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Day 4 — Early morning start today because we lots of awesome paddling spots to visit. Our first paddle will be on the seldom visited and deeply remote Juniper Creek. Our kayaks will glide over clear water with a tinge of red. When the sun finds its way through the canopy it will reflect on the almost glowing white sand river bottom. As we float downstream the forest will close in on us almost forming a green tunnel. At the take out we will have a riverside picnic before driving the short distance to a fast moving section of the Blackwater River. Juniper Creek  (6 miles) Blackwater River(8.5 paddling miles)

Day 5 — The Coldwater Creek begins as a spring very near the Alabama Florida border at an elevation of nearly 300’ above sea level (this is a mountain to Floridians). It then winds it’s sparkling clear waters towards the Gulf of Mexico flowing through the Blackwater Forest. Paddlers enjoy the swiftness of the current and the beautiful sugar sand beaches. The remoteness of the river adds to the quietness, stillness, and to the amount of viewable wildlife. The creek maintains a 76-78 degree temperature year round. (11 paddling miles)

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Day 6 — Beach day! I love the rivers that make up the panhandle, however, what most people love about this area is the enormous white sand beaches and clear gulf waters. We will pack up everything we need in the morning and head out to  Gulf Islands National Seashore. Lots of history, scenery, and sunshine. Dinner will be at a local seafood restaurant.

Day 7 — For those looking for a bit of excitement our lodge offers a thrilling zip line course over the tree tops and across the river. For everyone else there is leisurely morning strolls through the forest, may be a swim, or just a quiet paddle before packing up and heading to the Pensacola airport. Drop off is at 1pm. Lunch will be our last meal together.

Important! Be sure to download the Kayak/Touring/Lodge Gear List and the mandatory Registration forms.

Meals and Accommodations

Our lodging will be what most would consider wilderness luxury, the Old School House Inn. The Inn was once the Pioneer School House in Fidelis, Florida. The school was transformed into an inn at about fifteen years ago. Each room has hardwood floors, high ceilings, large windows, is furnished with antiques, and has air conditioning. Four of the rooms have gas fireplaces. All rooms are double occupancy.

Included in our lodge is an outdoor kitchen with an amazing screened-in dining room. Your guides will prepare and serve all breakfast and dinners here. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on the first day and end with breakfast on the last day. Meals served on the trip will honor and reflect local cuisine. A typical dinner might consist of shrimp and crawfish étouffée, white rice, garlic bread, fresh salad, and something chocolate for dessert. People with special dietary restrictions should contact the guide to make arrangements.

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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