Historic Boat Tours
The refreshing waters of Wakulla Spring have long been an alluring attraction. Glass-bottom boats giving passengers remarkable underwater views have been part of the spring’s history as far back as 1875 when locals entertained visitors in a rowboat with a windowpane hull. The incredible water clarity aided the recovery of a complete mastodon skeleton that remains on display at the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.
River Boat Tours
The river boat tour along the Wakulla River is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Tallahassee area. The 45- to 55-minute world-class wildlife viewing event takes visitors on a two-mile loop downstream and back among majestic bald cypress trees, elegant wading birds and toothy alligators. Manatees are often sighted but their presence is not dependable. A camera is highly recommended to capture the candid images of the river’s fauna.
The ranger-led tour not only highlights the wildlife but often includes stories of human interactions with the spring. They sometimes feature the lives of indigenous peoples, movies filmed during the Edward Ball years, and/or the more recent adventures of explorations within the caves that bring water to the spring.
The river boat tours run 365 days a year weather permitting (Temperatures must be above 40 degrees and tours are not conducted during thunderstorms). The boats are 30 feet long and have a roof. There are also wheelchair accessible boats available upon request. A manual wheelchair is also available for use upon request at the waterfront visitors center.
River Boat Tour Departures
- The waterfront visitors center opens at 9:30 a.m. and the first boat departs at 9:40 a.m. On Christmas Day the first boat departs at noon.
- Succeeding tours depart at varying times, depending on visitor demand. Greater visitation results in more frequent tours.
- The last tour of the day during Eastern standard time departs at 4:30 p.m. EST. The last tour of the day during daylight saving time is 5 p.m. EDT.
Glass-Bottom Boat Tours
Glass-bottom boat tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains combined with other factors still to be fully understood are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility.
On those rare days (usually in late winter or early spring) when the “mysterious waters” of Wakulla Spring may momentarily regain their aquamarine tint and crystal-clear quality, the gasps of visitors moved by the spring’s abyss can once again be heard. The ancient remains of great furry elephants (mastodons) can be seen resting on the basin’s steep sandy slopes. Schools of catfish dance in the spring’s depths, fish conventions follow the boat, and even out-of-practice Henry-the-Pole-Vaulting-Fish may choose to entertain upon request of the captain.
When possible, the 30-minute Glass-Bottom Boat Tour departs at:
- Noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., weather and water clarity permitting. The tours are timed to take advantage of the sun’s best light.
To avoid disappointment, it is strongly suggested that the park be contacted prior to expected visitation to ascertain the feasibility of glass-bottom boat operation. Water quality conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.
- $8 for adults (13 years old and up).
- $5 for children (ages 3 to 12).
- There is no charge for children under the age of 3.
Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for the next scheduled tour of the day only. Because of the unpredictable and sudden nature of North Florida weather, tickets are not sold for tours beyond the next one scheduled. Individual or small group reservations are not available.
Groups of 20 or more are eligible for specially discounted group rates Monday through Friday provided arrangements are made a minimum of two weeks in advance and certain criteria are met. Advance reservations for groups of 20 or more may also be made for some non-holiday weekends (no discounted rates are available on the weekends). Please call 850-561-7286 for details and to make arrangements.
Occasionally, specialty boat tours are available. Please see the park’s special event section for dates, times and associated fees.