Cruises on The St. Johns River

Cruises on The St. Johns River
Florida's longest river, the St. Johns, flows south to north for the winding length of its 310 miles. Its headwaters are in the marshes in mid-state Indian River County, and it is home to an amazing variety of birds, tropical plants, cypress stands and mangrove islands, alligators, fish and threatened manatees. The St. Johns is part working river, part nature trail and a popular venue for a variety of cruises.

St. Johns River Cruises

St. Johns River Cruises runs two flatboats with ample room for checking out the birds and river creatures and good vantage points for photography. Both boats, the Native II and the Eagle, are shallow-draft, open-sided and wheelchair accessible. An experienced guide points out camouflaged birds and native plants, talks about the river's history and spots manatee "whirlpools" in plenty of time to show you a glimpse of the endangered sea mammals feeding on the river grasses just below the surface. Choose from one of two daily nature tours narrated by a guide at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Discount rates for seniors and children 12 and under.

St. Johns River Cruises
Blue Spring State Park
2100 West French Avenue
Orange City, FL 32763
407-330-1612
sjrivercruises1@embargmail.com

St. Johns River Escape

Be your own captain on a houseboat or a silent electric boat as you explore the river. St. Johns River Escape has two houseboats, the Memory Maker I and II, and an open, canopied electric boat named Watt a Ride for rent. The houseboats come with electricity, TV, DVD player, stereo, refrigerator, range, microwave, coffeemaker, air conditioning, heated shower and more---not exactly roughing it. They sleep six. The shallow draft means you can overnight in a quiet lagoon and venture into Blue Springs State Park for some up-close time with the resident manatees in season.

The electric day cruiser can carry 12 people and glides silently, fume-free, along the river so that you can hear the birds and the slap of water against the hull. Its charge lasts around eight hours and it will let you travel at five to seven knots, although stretches of the river require lower speeds to protect the slow-moving manatees. Check for seasonal rental prices for houseboats and day cruiser.

St. Johns River Escape
(drop-off/pick-up:
2368 Mullet Lake Park Rd.
Geneva, FL. 32732)
407-324-3677 or 800-669-2371
stjohnsriverescape.com

Tadpole Boat Tours

Tadpole Boat Tours offers a private charter wildlife discovery tour on its 32-foot trawler, the Happenstance, with an extremely flexible, customizable schedule. Very kid-friendly, Captain Tadpole has two-hour Elementary School Student Hide & Seek Wildlife Cruises with a free guide book ("Finding My Friends on the St. Johns River") for about $20 per person for six people. There are senior rates for a three-hour tour that includes boxed lunches, and the regular guided tour costs $60 an hour for up to six guests. All prices as of 2010.

Tadpole Boat Tours
(Lake Monroe Docks)
P.O. Box 127
Sanford, FL 32772
407-408-7535
CaptainTadpole@gmail.com

Tadpole Boat Tours
(Lake Monroe Docks)
POB 127
Sanford, FL 32772
407-408-7535
CaptainTadpole@gmail.com

Article Written By Benna Crawford

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based freelance writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "The Miami Herald," on CBS, CNN, ABC and in professional journals, trade publications and blogs. Crawford is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, currently studying green nutrition.

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