Located in the western part of Seminole County, 16 miles north of downtown Orlando, sits Wekiva Island, which just might be Central Florida’s favorite watering hole. This charming, natural attraction provides you and your family a great day in the great outdoors with all activities set up in a contained indoor/outdoor space amid palm trees and foliage.
The five-acre Wekiva (pronounced Wek-EYE-va) Island complex sits on the crystal clear Wekiva River, which stays 72 degrees year-round. Summer visitors, especially, can get a big splash of refreshment on a hot day.
The simplest way to experience this place is to pay two bucks, put on your bathing suit, jump off the deck and enjoy a swim in some of the most pristine waters you’ll ever see. Take a break in a waterside Adirondack chair, or catch some shade under a nearby tent (with picnic tables). Join in a game of sand volleyball or cornhole.
If heading out for an adventure is also on your to-do list, Wekiva Island rents canoes and kayaks. (You can also bring your own; there’s a small launch fee.) On the King’s Landing trip, you take in the beauty of the river while paddling downstream at three to four miles per hour. The journey covers eight miles and takes about four hours without stopping. But we recommend adding in some pauses at various stopping points. You can also paddle your way to Wekiva Springs State Park and reach the headwaters of the springs. The park includes 13 miles of trails for hiking.
Have you tried paddleboarding yet? It’s big at Wekiva Island, which rents them on a first-come, first-served basis (they tend to go quickly). You can bring your boat, too. Wekiva Island has a ramp for launching vessels with motors that do not exceed 25 horsepower.
All of this activity will have you working up an appetite, so Wekiva Island’s got you covered. A favorite gathering spot for locals and visitors alike is The Tooting Otter, an indoor/outdoor bar that pours a generous selection of craft beers and wines. This watering hole features live music on Friday and Saturday nights, so you can enjoy a drink while lounging riverside under the stars. The complex’s popular food truck, Without a Paddle Cafe, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Looking for something more private? Wekiva Island has several cabanas for rent. For the go-big-or-go-home type, there’s the Sand Cabana, 12-by-22 feet, with couches, chairs, and a wall unit that has a picnic table and grill/summer kitchen. This oasis also has a fire pit, and you’re just steps from the river. The Point is an uncovered 15-by-16-foot deck with a picnic table, a grill, and outdoor patio furniture. You can also put up a pop-up tent if you like. A selection of smaller cabanas — mostly 11-by-12 feet — are available as well, and come with patio furniture, grills, and coolers. River-banas are set up slightly away from the main complex and allow groups to enjoy a private retreat on the riverside.
Whether it’s a simple swim in cool waters or the full-on, ultimate cabana experience, you can’t help but have all-day fun at Wekiva Springs.