How does plunging into crystal-clear, 72-degree water sound? Or paddling a kayak through it, stopping occasionally to dip your toes into its cool, refreshing embrace? It’s easy at Wekiva Island, Central Florida’s favorite watering hole. You can simply jump into the Wekiva River and swim and float to your heart’s content. Or you can rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard and head out on a relaxing, open air adventure.

Located in the western part of Seminole County, 16 miles north of downtown Orlando, this charming, natural attraction provides you and your family a great day in the great outdoors. Plenty of memorable activities await, all in a contained 5-acre space amid palm trees and foliage.

Because Wekiva (pronounced Wek-EYE-va, btw) Island puts the health and safety of guests above all else, it has instituted new guidelines during the COVID-19 health crisis. The complex has reduced on-island capacity, so access is limited to the following: Small groups that rent cabanas; people renting canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards; people launching their own; and guests of the Without a Paddle Cafe who are there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Tooting Otter Bar & General Store is closed temporarily. Additionally, temperatures are checked at the gate and you need to wear a mask outside the boundary of your own group.

Fans of Wekiva Island will be pleased to know that it’s still the same natural-Florida paradise — only less crowded and more safe. You can click here to read a blog post and watch an interview with owner William C. Weinaug Jr., an engineer who led a research team that issued a white paper on how hotels and resorts should combat the coronavirus. Not only does he have his guests’ best interests at heart, he really knows what he’s talking about.

With plenty of elbow room, sunshine and that year-round cool water, summer visitors can get a big splash of refreshment on a hot day at Wekiva Island.

Here’s a kayak/canoe trip we recommend: King’s Landing lets 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 taking the occasional break to fully enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. 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.

Wekiva Island offers several cabanas for rent. Your small group will find plenty of space to spread out in the 12-by-22 foot Sand Cabana, 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-bank spots are set up slightly away from the main complex and allow small groups to enjoy a private retreat on the riverside.

Whether it’s a scenic, relaxing paddle on the Wekiva River or the ultimate cabana experience, you can’t help but have all-day, outdoor fun at Wekiva Island.

Want to know more about Wekiva Island’s safety precautions? Listen to owners Bill and Mary Sue Weinaug talk about “Visiting Orlando North’s Island Oasis” on the ONSC Podcast! Listen here:

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