When it comes to Florida, we don't need to tell travellers to go to the beach. But those in pursuit of a less obvious (yet equally refreshing) coastal getaway should look to Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville - Weeki Wachee. Here, the wind-water-wave offering is equal parts fresh and saltwater adventure. Between rivers, lakes, coastal estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico, water activities are a way of life in this pocket of Central Florida. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Florida's Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau / Kim Poppke
The mangrove-lined coves, bayous and sandbars of Florida's Adventure Coast waterways provide relaxing spots to drop anchor and enjoy Florida’s natural beauty. The local boat ramps and marinas offer all the services travellers need for a day out on the water, including rentals and charters. Don’t miss a trip to Bendickson Reef's “Ghost Ship,” a 14-metre derelict two-masted sailboat which hundreds of fish now call home. The new addition joins 10 retired battle tanks and 600 tons of concrete rubble that make up this artificial reef.
Safari by Sea
Florida's Adventure Coast Visitors Burea / Kim Poppke
No need to captain your own boat to spend a day on the water. Head out with Bayport River Safari for a relaxing ride to the junction of the Weeki Wachee and Mud Rivers, which flow into the Gulf of Mexico. At sunset, passengers enjoy a front-row, panoramic view of the horizon. Wildlife aficionados should bring binoculars to spot otters, dolphins and several species of raptors, including osprey and bald eagles.
Hook, Line and Sinker
Florida's Adventure Coast is one of the most plentiful and rewarding for anglers, whether you're looking to hook tarpon, trout or redfish on the flats, bass, bream and crappie on the inland lakes, or grouper, cobia or snapper in The Gulf. There are plenty of bait and tackle shops (which rent rods) and can point anglers in the right direction. In Hernando Beach, deliver your catch to several of the town’s seafood restaurants, like Trader Bay Seafood, R Beach, The Cove and ZigZag Scallop, and the kitchen will cook up your haul for a dinner you won’t soon forget.
From July through September, the area's seagrasses play host to open season on bay scallops. Snorklers dip below the waterline, armed with goggles and net bags, which are essential for carrying their catch. The purple-coloured scallops are nestled in the dark green grasses, so you'll need an eagle eye to spot them, though the flats where the mollusks are found are shallow and the water is crystal-clear. (Think of it as a delicious Easter egg hunt.) Tour operators like Chase N Tails Fishing Charters in Hernando Beach lead scalloping excursions throughout the season and several restaurants offer catch-and-cook dining.
With more than 80,000 hectares of protected parkland featuring winding waters prime for paddling, canoers, paddleboarders and kayakers will love the area’s connection to nature and emphasis on sustainable, motorless water activities. There’s no better way to get up close to a manatee or see hundred of birds in their natural habitats while spying on otters, rabbits and dolphins. Launch from the Bayport-Linda Pederson Paddling Trail and follow signs marking the 2.7-kilometre trip through the coastal ecosystem. If you have more than just a few hours, take the turn-off and explore Redfish Bayou.
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