Florida Guide > Days Out
Hire a Pontoon and Sail the St John River
If you want a lovely relaxing day away from the theme parks then something I would recommend is hiring a pontoon boat and sailing the St Jonh River.
We found this place by pure chance, I love hummingbirds and while searching for somewhere where I could see them we came upon the website as they have a hummingbird garden.
To get the photo which is attached I had to hide in a bush for around 20 minutes
We have done this many times over the years as it is a way to get to see the ‘Real Florida’
We travel to Deland which is about an hour from Davenport and we go to Hontoon Landing to hire our pontoon, they often have special offers for the low season months Jan-March
http://hontoon. com/index. htm
Each pontoon can hold up to 10 people and so it is ideal if you want a day out on the water with family and friends.
There are openings under the seats for picnic baskets and you can buy a big bag of ice from the resort shop to keep your beers and wine chilled.
Before you sail of you are given a safety talk and shown how to work the radio etc, it is straightforward and common sense. There is safety equipment such as life jackets stored under the seats.
You are given a route map of the river and a course to follow, there are markers all along the route so that you know you are going the right way, it’s easy even I could follow it and I’m useless at maps.
The wildlife you see is wonderful, so many birds, fish, alligators, turtles and if you are really lucky and go at the right time of year you may spot manatees
We tend to said down for around an hour which takes us to Blue River State Park where we moor our pontoon
To the left as you enter the park is a manatee area which is cordoned off but there are viewing points from above where you can watch them , sometimes you just see the circles rising where you know they are under the water.
There is a natural spring in the park and what is fantastic about this spring is that you can actually swim into the source of the spring as the chasm is very easy to see and is huge. Photo attached
The park is a nice stop off for an hour but you could stay much longer but we like to head back on to the boat.
There is a restaurant en route on the map which we have stopped off at, it isn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination but the food is great and you meet the locals.
We love to immerse ourselves into local life and not just the touristy things offered in Florida, if you do too then this would be a great day out for you too.
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