One of Wakulla Springs' main attractions is the boat tours that operate 365 days a year, depending on the weather. The three-mile River Tour is a 40 minute cruise on the river to see alligators, native birds, turtles, and other wildlife up close. When water conditions permit, glass bottom boats drift over the bowl of the Wakulla springs; however, they weren't running while we were there even though the water looked very clear to us. Our boat tour was on the boat closest to the front.
Steve has been in Florida and has yet to see an alligator in its natural setting. When I bought the tickets, they guaranteed we would see alligators; however, I was really hoping to see a manatee.
The grandkids were very excited at what they might get to see.
I think their Dad was every bit as excited as they were; maybe even more so. Helen didn't make the trip to Wakulla Springs with us because she pulled a muscle in her back and she decided it would be better to stretch out on the bed in the RV and relax.
Our first siting was a turtle sitting on a log. It was pretty big.
If you look in the middle of the picture, you will see a large bird with its wings outspread. It is a snake bird and has a very long neck. It just sat there with wings outspread.
I don't know what this beautiful what this beautiful bird is but I am sure someone else will recognize it.
There were a number of moor hens floating around.
Our first alligator siting. Can you see him near the top of the floating grass? He is about 8 feet long.
Another group of birds. They are light enough to walk on top of the floating grass.
Another snake bird. They are quite large.
The ripple at the top is another alligator swimming past the front of the boat.
This one is hiding in front of the grass. He even had moss on his back to blend in.
This one is pretty close to us. He was watching us but never moved.
The water is so clear that you can see the grass moving down under the surface. This guy is about 9 feet long.
This little guy on the shore line really blended in with his surroundings.
Another group of turtles sunning along the bank.
Now we had some real excitement when we spotted our first manatee. They have a head that just sort of blends in with the body and a large tail. Some people call them sea cows.
They are pretty large and slow moving.
This one almost looks like it has designs on its body. We saw a total of three swimming along together.
Another croc along the shore. The water was so still that everything reflected off it.
This osprey nest on the top of the tree was huge.
Steve certainly got to see his share of alligators this trip.
This was another tour boat coming up the opposite side of the river.
Another osprey nest.
This is an alligator gar fish swimming below the surface.
Another manatee siting up near the springs.
Almost every time we saw a snake bird, they were sitting on top of a tree with their wings outspread.
The scenery is really beautiful along the river. Several old Tarzan movies were filmed here at Wakulla Springs along with The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
After we finished our boat tour, we went inside the lodge. I didn't get any pictures of the lodge but they have a gift shop and a snack bar with one of the world's longest marble counters. The lobby area has intricately painted 10-foot ceilings, a grand piano, marble checker tables, massive fireplace, the lodge's only television and legendary "Old Joe," an 11-foot w-inch stuffed alligator. Apparently Old Joe lived in the springs and river for many years without bothering anyone. Quite a few years ago, someone snuck in at midnight and shot him. He was found at the bottom of the spring. Now he sits in the lobby. None of the other alligators there now are anywhere near as big as Old Joe. They have a number of videos running on a screen in the lobby which tell all about the springs and its history as well as about Old Joe.
We really enjoyed our visit to Wakulla Springs. You can see a drawing of the lodge below. There are very nice picnic grounds out front and trails through the woods. At $6 for a carload entry fee, it was well worth a visit. The boat trip was also worth the $8 for adults and $5 for kids as it lasted more than 40 minutes, the guide was very knowledgeable, the scenery beautiful, and the wildlife sitings plentiful.