For years I have seen on social media the clear kayaks in Florida being advertised. I could not wait to try it out for myself one day.
If you are a traveler or love to experience new things, you most likely follow travel pages on your social media account. I'm one of these people, and I stumbled upon Get Up and Go Kayaking tours years ago. I kept telling myself, "One day I'm going to go...", and I saved it into the notes in my smartphone, only to completely forget about it for years to come.
Recently, I was clearing out old notes in my smartphone when I stumbled upon this adventure again. I found myself saying the same thing I said years ago, "One day I'm going to go...". I suddenly stopped my thoughts. Why do I keep saying this? Why not do it when I'm vacationing in Florida next month? I did my research and found out this company has 5 locations total in Florida that offers similar, and yet different, experiences. Rock Springs in Kelly Park was the one that I was drawn to the most due to pictures online, and it being one of the closest tours to where I was staying.
The following are aspects of the tour that I reflected on in considering if this tour really is worth it.
1. The Clear Kayaks
I was slightly disappointed by the clear kayaks. You could see through the sides very well, but the bottom of the clear kayak was all scratched up. Therefore, the visibility of what was under your clear kayak wasn't the best quality.
On the other hand, you are very busy paddling during this clear kayak tour. There are a few spots the tour guide will allow the group to stop at for a dip in the water and to take pictures. As a result, I was hardly looking at the view through the bottom of the clear kayak.
2. The Scenery
The scenery is out of this world! The water was crystal clear, and the plants around you will make you feel like you are on a tropical island out of the country. The sand in the water was the softest sand my feet have ever felt in my entire life. There was even a beautiful spot that seemed to be the hub of everyone's adventure on the river. You could swim around, and you could even swing on a rope into the refreshing water.
For people who are scared about what could be in the water: don't be scared! The only thing I saw in the water in the clear kayak, and outside of the clear kayak, was little fish. You can see everything that is around you and coming your way because the water is so clear. You'll have to be careful in some spots though if you decide to get out of your kayak. There are sticks and pieces of bark standing erect in the sand, which can really harm your feet if you aren't careful where you step.
3. The Wildlife
We didn't see a huge amount of wildlife on our tour; nothing is guaranteed when it comes to mother nature. There were no manatee, snake, or alligator sightings for our group; however, another group that paddled by us did say they saw a snake in the water. My group saw some spiders up in the trees (away from the river), turtles, fish, and birds throughout our tour.
The wildlife wasn't disappointing for me as I was aware going into it that it was possible I may not see anything. It could have been a disappointment for others who had a higher expectation. No one in the group on my tour complained about this aspect to my knowledge. Everyone seemed very pleased with the wildlife they saw.
4. The Length of the Tour
The length of the tour is 2 hours long. For the first hour you are paddling upstream the entire time; this will be the toughest part. After, you turn around and paddle back with the current to where you started the tour; this will be the easy part.
My tour guide had our group take 4 stops along the way upstream. I exercise every now and then and have experience with kayaking. For me, the paddle upstream wasn't that hard. My arms did get sore during the tour and after, but I've paddled a lot harder upstream at other locations in the past. If you aren't used to kayaking, be prepared to do work and know what you're getting into!
So...Is the Clear Kayak Tour Worth it?
Getting the clear kayak is part of the experience, and I found to be worth it despite it being scratched at the bottom. It was an incredible experience to see what was around me underwater in the clear kayak. The tour guide my group had was also very knowledgeable about the park during our tour. He definitely contributed in making this tour a fun experience.
If I was to go back for a second time, I would rent a regular kayak to save a little more on money, and go off on my own. I am sure you can get just as good of an experience doing that as you would with the clear kayak tour. I also briefly met a woman who takes her own paddle board on the river frequently and ventures off on her own. All of the workers know her there, and she said she always has a blast. The idea of a clear kayak may not be worth it for you, but I can guarantee that this beautiful park will definitely be worth it regardless of what kayak you choose.
© 2019 Jackie Zelko
Liz Westwood from UK on July 22, 2019:
You give a great account of your experience with good photos. I think I would be concentrating so much on paddling and looking where I was heading that I would miss out on seeing through the clear bottom of the kayak. So your thoughts on taking a normal kayak next time were interesting.
RTalloni on July 22, 2019:
Rocks Springs! We would go over to Apopka with family as children, then we took our own children a few times before moving north. What a great time you must have had. I know it must be very different now, and of course there were no clear kayaks, or any kayaks to my knowledge, back then, but we loved going. In one spot we could swim down into the cave area where cold clear water gushed out. Dangerous? Very much so (though we kids did not realize how much so), and it was closed off before I was grown up, but such fun at the time. If you can imagine very few homes and buildings between the Highway 50 areas and Rocks Springs (except for right in Apopka), but only farmland and acreage, you have a glimpse of the drive to there at that time. Thanks for this look at the tours and for sharing some of your experience. I'm sure it would be worth a trip.