River Wild Kayaking Guided Eco Tour Review

I was hosted by River Wild Kayaking for a guided eco tour, but this post is my honest review of my experience.  

Me kayaking in the mangroves mid-paddle

River Wild Kayaking hosted me for a guided kayaking tour on the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I wanted to write up a review of my thoughts. Spoiler alert: It was so much fun! Keep reading for everything you will need to know before you book a guided eco tour.  

Basic Information for River Wild Kayaking

  • Tour Company: River Wild Kayaking  
  • Address: 1060 N Pinellas Ave. Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 
  • Driving Distance from select Florida cities: 
    • Tampa: 45 minutes  
    • St. Petersburg: 45 minutes 
    • Orlando: 2 hours 15 minutes  
  • Tour Hours: Daily starting at 9 AM 
  • Parking: Free parking is available  
  • Cost: $49 per person; tandem or single kayaks are available  
    • Children 15 years and under and adults 55 years and older receive a $5 discount  
River Wild Kayaking sign

Types of Kayaking Tours Offered  

  • Daytime: Day tours are offered beginning at 9 AM daily  
  • Sunset: Book the last tour of the day, usually beginning at 6 or 7PM

What to expect on a guided eco tour with River Wild Kayaking

River Wild Kayaking guided eco tours take approximately 2 hours. We paddled approximately 2.3 miles in the 2-hour time frame. The exact route may be dictated based upon tides and current conditions. Group tours are usually between 10 to 13 people max.  

Our tour started off at the private kayak launch and we headed towards the sponge docks. Here your guide will give you a little bit of the history of the town of Tarpon Springs and the sponge docks. If you didn’t already know Tarpon Springs has one of the largest populations of Greek American in the United States. 

A view of the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs from my kayak

Next, we headed towards the salt marsh and learned about some of the threats to this important part of the coastal ecosystem. Finally, we headed to the mangroves. We kayaked through smaller channels as well as plenty of more open areas. There are three different types of mangroves native to Florida, red, black, and white. We even learned some of the differences of how to spot the different types of mangroves. 

During our tour, we took a short break about halfway through to allow anyone that wanted to cool off a little bit and swim in the river. This was also a great time to ask any additional questions to our guide!  

Mangrove trees along the water

Will I see wildlife?

You will also have ample opportunity to spot wildlife. While there is no guarantee what you will see on a given tour, your guide will ensure you don’t miss anything that is around. Our guide was pointing out wildlife before we had even launched!  

Some wildlife you may encounter includes dolphins, sting rays, great blue herons, ospreys, pelicans, river otters, and various fish. If you book the sunset cruise, you may see bats leaving their nest under a bridge. Our guide pointed this out during our daytime tour.  

Please keep in mind this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, as you never know what your guide may point out. While it is common to see wildlife, it cannot be guaranteed on any given tour.  

What to bring with you  

You don’t need a lot, but I have a few essential items I always like to have with me when I am kayaking. I use a water bag that I purchased from Amazon, and it works great to store everything I need. 

  • Water  
  • Sunscreen 
  • Hat 
  • Waterproof case for phone 
  • Sunglasses  

That’s really all you need! You will need to store all your items on you while kayaking so having a safe place to keep your car keys is recommended.  

The dark blue water and surrounding area with the front of my orange kayak in the middle of the picture

Helpful tips when booking your tour with River Wild Kayaking

  • Book your tour in advance: Tour groups are kept to 10 to 13 people to ensure everyone can stay with the group and hear your guide. I recommend booking your tour early, especially if you have a specific date or time in mind 
  • Fill out your waiver ahead of time: Once you book a tour you will receive an e-mail with an online waiver. Save time the day of your tour by having everyone complete it ahead of time 
  • Use the restroom ahead of time: There are no restrooms at the kayak launch. If you need to go ahead of time the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center is around the corner with public restrooms available for use 
  • Arrive early: It is recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your tour time. This will help ensure your tour takes off on time!  
  • Bring cash: Be sure to let your tour guide know you had a great time by providing a tip! You also have the option to leave a tip ahead of time online when making your reservation. 
River Wild Kayak private launch, with 5 kayaks lined up ready to go into the water

Benefits of booking a guided tour  

What really makes River Wild Kayaking stand out is that they offer guided tours. There are so many benefits to booking a guided tour instead of heading out on the water alone.  

  1. Learn something new: Your tour guides have so much knowledge of the environment and ecosystems and they can’t wait to share it with you!  
  2. Have fun: Tour guides typically love what they do and can’t wait to share the experience with you. 
  3. See wildlife you might miss: Our tour guide was constantly pointing out various wildlife throughout our 2-hour tour. She also let us know as we paddled through different areas what to be on the lookout for.  
  4. Don’t worry about the details: Leave all the planning to your tour guide, you don’t have to worry about your route when you book a guided tour!  
  5. Get answers to all your questions: Tour guides are there for you. They encourage people to ask questions throughout the tour.  
Mangroves, and shallow water

Guided Eco Tour Summary with River Wild Kayaking

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with River Wild Kayaking on their guided eco tour. Our guide, Julie, was extremely knowledgeable about the ecosystems and clearly has a passion for the Florida outdoors. It was a peaceful morning on the Anclote River, and we got to see various wildlife. Overall, the paddle was not too strenuous or technical. There were some mangrove channels that required a little more navigation, but our guide ensured the group was comfortable before taking us through. If you are looking for something different or want to learn more about the Florida environment, I highly recommend checking out River Wild Kayaking!  

Looking for more places to kayak?  

Check out these posts 

The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to book a guided eco tour, I recommend verifying the most current information with the River Wild Kayaking website. 

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