The Kayak Shack at Weeki Wachee, Florida is a family-run business. The people there are very friendly and accommodating. You can rental sit-on-top kayaks for singles, as well as tandem for couples. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards and canoes. This is definitely a family destination, as there were people of all ages renting kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. The launch and returning platforms were convenient so you can easily enter and exit the kayak. they do issue a life preserver for everyone but like the Paddler Outdoor Rentals, they are secured to the craft and are not mandatory to wear, probably because the Weeki Wachee River is not too deep in most places. However, if you can not swim, please wear your life jacket. Although traveling along the Weeki Wachee River is very shady, it is a good idea to sunblock because the Florida sun will find you regardless. Be sure to wear water shoes, a hat, sunglasses, a dri-fit long sleeve shirt, quick-drying shorts or a bathing suit. Put your personal belongings (phone, keys, etc.) in a dry bag or a water-tight sealed bag otherwise they will get wet. In a sit-on-top kayak, you and your things will get wet. No pets allowed!
Be aware that traveling from The Kayak Shack to the end of the Weeki Wachee River is about 5 miles. I was visiting my sister who lives in Spring Hill, Florida and convinced her to join me on this trip. As we left the launch point, we found ourselves paddling against the current. This was her first experience in a kayak of any kind. To prepare her for her first trip, I went over some basic paddling techniques the night before using a chair and a broom stick. She did great!!! She maneuvered around the Weeki Wachee River like an experienced kayaker even though the current was surprisingly strong. We traveled for about an hour and a half up river passing many waterfront homes along the way (some of which The Kayak Shack rents to the public). We didn't see much wildlife and there were no signs of manatees. However, the river is bordered my a lush green forest.The river is not that wide, so it was good that we left early before river traffic got too crazy. My sister became more and more comfortable paddling as we continued on our journey. We stopped for about 5 minutes and then turned back for our return trip. Paddling with the current was extremely easy but by then river traffic had increased tremendously with many groups of people meandering up the river. We had to weave our way through the throngs of paddlers in kayaks, canoes and on paddle boards. This was a true test of skill for my sister but she managed to work her way without incident (a proud moment for the older brother). In spite of the fact that we failed to see any manatees, alligators or wildlife, it was a fun and challenging experience that I was happy to share with my sister. I think I made her a convert, as she said she would definitely kayak again.
Once we docked our kayaks and exited to land, we decided to celebrate my sister's accomplishment and enjoy lunch at the Upper Deck Restaurant next door. As the name suggests, we dined outdoors on the upper deck overlooking the Weeki Wachee River and The Kayak Shack's launch point. Coincidently, we ran into my sister's clients from the Bank she works at. During our conversation, we discovered that the husband and I graduated the same year, from the same high school. But since we had 805 students in our class, we never knew each other. As they say, six degrees of separation - small world experience.
So if you are near the western-central part of Florida (Tampa) area, The Kayak Shack and the Weeki Wachee River is a great family destination. P.S. They have a great gift shop too, especially if you like tie dyed shirts (see pictures in the Gallery).