Having lived in Florida for the last nearly fifteen+ years, I must admit that I continue to uncover hidden gems. As the summer is upon us, I thought it was fitting to write about a recent discovery for me near Orlando and the Space Coast of Florida. With temperatures near ninety for the remainder of the summer, I chose two adventure activities that will keep you cool and amazed. Both were firsts for me earlier this summer. Enjoy these summer adventures in Central Florida.
#1 Paddle Run in Central Florida – King’s Landing River Run Adventure
Whether you canoe or kayak, this paddle is for you. King’s Landing, located in Apopka, Florida (not the one from Game of Thrones), is a paddling outfitter that rents canoes and kayaks along the Wekiwa River in Orange County. The river run is an 8.5-mile paddle with a slowly moving current (3-4 mph). It typically takes around 4.5 hours with stops for picnics, snacks, and of course photos.
As both my PIC and I are avid kayakers, we chose to add on a little detour, 2-mile, out-n-back to Emerald Cut. Along this route, you will experience crystal clear and cool fresh waters coming out of Rock Springs. Even on the hottest of days, the canopy of trees covered in Spanish moss will keep you shaded. Make sure to budget a bit more time for this off-shoot.
Our entire river run was a total of 10.5 miles. Per suggested by King’s Landing, we started before 11 am. Even though we were going with the current and are good paddlers, we didn’t set any records. That’s because I became a wildlife paparazzi. We spotted cranes, egrets, bass, water moccasin, and countless gators. Along the paddle, there are three campsites that you can rent for primitive camping. If the sites are not in use, you can stop to take a rest. We chose the second site called Indian Mound to hang hammocks and refuel. (It is 5 o’clock somewhere.)
The endpoint was another launch site with a bar, food trucks, restrooms, accommodations, and parking called Wekiva Island. It was a great place to stretch our legs and visit the restroom before the short shuttle ride back to King’s Landing.
King’s Landing is CASH only. Rental of kayaks, canoes, and shuttle service range $50-$60 for each vessel). If you have your own vessel, you can put it in at King’s Landing for a small fee ($10 per boat and $10 shuttle fee). Also, don’t worry or fret if you aren’t a great paddler; King’s Landing escorts tours during the week as well.
Glow in the Dark Kayak – Space Coast Bioluminescence
In Central Florida, in the summer months, there is an amazing natural occurrence right outside of Titusville near Canaveral National Park and the Space Center. In the warm, protected, and dark lagoon waters lies a phenomenon that will blow your socks off: bioluminescent dinoflagellates (micro-organisms) glowing in the dark. With every paddle stroke or passing fish, manatee, or dolphin, you witness a glowing blue trail like seen in “Life of Pi.” The conditions are the best from June to early October with the peak in August. Be aware that the glowing plankton are affected by weather; so, it is best not to go after a recent rain, which may cause murky conditions.
Both my PIC and I decided to book a night tour with A Day Away Tours. We met at the Haulover Canal right at sunset to enjoy a quick picnic as well as a few mosquito bites. (Ok, a lot of mosquito bites. I’m a bug magnet!) At 8 pm, our guides and group arrived with tandem kayaks, life vests, paddles, and lights for safety. Along our short paddle to the best lagoon for viewing, Mosquito Cove, we spotted more cranes, egrets, and a wonderful surprise of an adult manatee.
A Day Away Bio Tours run weekdays $44.95 per person and $49.95 on weekends. However, A Day Away Tours also do nature tours during the day on the Indian River as well as Comb Jelly Tours in the cooler fall months November-May for $39.95 per person during the week and $44.95 on the weekend.
If you live in and/or are traveling to Florida this summer, have fun with these two summer adventures that are bound to surprise and delight! If you have questions about my adventures, please leave in the comments below.
As always, here's to looking up!