The Wonderful World of Weeki Wachee
A sneak peek at one of Florida’s most iconic destinations
By: Karina Wilson
Did you know that mermaids are real?
At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, anything is possible. The well-known Florida spring is full of mythical creatures, eye-catching wildlife and numerous water activities.
Weeki Wachee was a term coined by the Seminole Tribe, the name means ‘little spring.’ It is “one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the U.S. (via weekiewachee.com). The spring is filled to the brim with one hundred and seventeen million gallons of water at a cool temperature of 74 degrees.
Weeki Wachee was discovered by retired United States Naval Officer, Newton Perry, who found the land and saw its great potential. The spring was deserted, basically a junkyard and contained more flora and fauna than human beings.
After some much-needed renovation, Perry began to construct what is formerly known as an ‘underwater breathing hose.’ The method of breathing provides oxygen from a free-flowing air hose through an air compressor. The hose is nearly invisible to the plain eye in comparison to an oxygen tank.
It was at this moment that the famous Weeki Wachee mermaids were born.
The magical maidens that are the Weeki Wachee mermaids are famous worldwide.
In the beginning, Newton Perry contacted various women and trained them to swim with the air hoses. Perry composed a strict routine and diet for the ‘mermaids.’ After creating an underwater ballet-inspired synchronized swimming routine, the girls made their debut on October 13, 1947.
Since then, the mermaids have become the springs’ prized possessions. The mermaids perform in the natural spring theater and put on a show beneath the water.
Remarkable River Boats
One of Weeki Wachee Springs’ key features is its crystal-clear water. Visitors are welcome to go on a boat tour or rent river boats in advance for their own pleasure.
“This amazingly scenic float along crystal-clear waters gives you the chance to see nesting bald eagles, mullet, cooter turtles, blue heron, wild turkey, deer and colorful fish of all sizes” (via Florida State Parks). Few tourists may get the chance to witness the endangered West Indian manatees float alongside the boat!
Florida’s Nature Coast is full of surprises. On a boat, you can fully immerse yourself into the environment. The State Park offers a variety of boat ramps and tours in order to cater to every individual’s experience.
Viewing animals in their natural habitat, whether it be beneath cool blue waters, roaming up on land or soaring in the sky can be breathtaking. At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, visitors are encouraged to have their cameras ready.
The animal residents at Weeki Wachee are very welcoming to human life, but as always it is important to remain mindful as well as respectful to the wildlife.
“I love Weeki Wachee because of its beautiful wildlife. I love to see the manatees while canoeing around all of the greenery!” - Natalie Cannella, Tampa Native.
Additionally, the park puts on three interactive wildlife shows a day. The experienced trainers handle alligators, birds, snakes, owls and even more. The encounter with Weeki Wachee’s many native animals is safe and fun for people if any and all ages!
In addition to all the previously stated activities, visitors can make the most of their day on their own schedule. All of the activities are included with the minimal park entry fee!
Week Wachee Springs State Park has various slides, cliffs for diving off of, a sand area for lounging and even nature trails. When you go to Weeki Wachee, you must pack for a full day experience. The park staff encourages that guests bring non-disposable containers and food items, however, there are an abundance of dining options:
Mermaid Galley is located in the back of the state park. The location offers both indoor and outdoor dining room seating. Diners can purchase and eat anything from wraps to ice cream!
Nothing is better than lounging with a cool drink in hand, right? The Tiki Bar, located near the beach of Buccaneer Bay is there to quench weary travelers’ thirst. Purchase drinks such as a virgin strawberry daiquiri or a tall glass of wine to have alongside your food that is fresh off of the grill.
Captain’s Quarters overlooks the beautiful Buccaneer Bay. Sit back, relax and enjoy some finger food as your stress melts away.
The Snack Shack provides a quick pick me up for guests in the area. Munch on a snack or two before preparing to dive back into the refreshing waters.
Eat like a pirate at Weeki Wachee’s Pirates Grubb! Visitors can sit outside and enjoy Florida’s sunshine and chow down on a burger, snacks, chicken fingers and more.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park ensures that all guests have an enjoyable stay!
Due to the coronavirus, the park still has limited activity. Additionally, certain areas of the park (i.e. Buccaneer Bay) are currently undergoing construction for the 2020 summer season.
The park first reintegrated kayaking with the approval of the Florida State Parks board. Visitors are expected to adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and to remain socially distanced. Restroom availability is limited and monitored.
With limited hours, (8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.) Weeki Wachee is now allowing self-guided boat tours on the water. The party limit is fixity people or less and they must remain six-feet apart at all times. Shuttle services have resumed to-and-from boat ramps for guests’ convenience.
If you are in the area, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a must-do, and you can check it off of your bucket list! Located right off of US-19 you can find a little slice of paradise!
6131 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, FL 34606