Along the western edge of Wakulla County runs the Ochlockonee River which begins in Georgia 200 miles upstream. This river corridor is home to many threatened species of fish, wildlife and plants, such as the orange azalea, the wood stork and the Atlantic sturgeon. Along the river lives Florida black bear and in the brackish waters live blue crab, sea trout, redfish and largemouth bass. It is the deep yellow and reds of Georgia clay that colors the waters with rich organic matter that then flows downstream and feeds the healthy estuaries, vital to production of our renowned fresh seafood. By day the landings along the river keep busy as boats of all kinds come and go carrying passengers to fish, to ski, or to simply enjoy this very impressive river.
The dark tannin waters of the nearby Sopchoppy River begins its 47 mile journey somewhere deep in the wetlands of the Apalachicola National Forest. The blackwater river passes through protected forests almost its entire length and eventually merges with the larger Ochlockonee. Boats of all types share the lower river, but the river narrows impassibly to motorboats further upstream. Those who push on in kayaks and canoes are richly rewarded with a true wilderness experience on this state designated canoe trail. Small trickling streams seep from the deep earthen banks of the Sopchoppy River as it winds underneath a dense canopy of trees. In the cool quietness of the wilderness, time is magically suspended and you can almost hear the cosmic breathing of the ancient past.
There are many similarities between the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers which both feature an incredible wealth of wildlife – birds of prey, wading birds, alligators, turtles, manatees, otters, mullet, bass and bream. The crystalline waters of the 10 mile long Wakulla River rise from Wakulla Spring, one of the few exclusively spring-fed rivers in this part of Florida. While the St. Marks River originates in cypress swamps 35 miles to the north, once it reappears from its short underground journey at Natural Bridge, it too becomes fed by a first magnitude spring. The fellow rivers converge near their respective ends and flow together into the brackish waters of Apalachee Bay. These related rivers are highly revered by boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts who sometimes travel great distances to enjoy the natural beauty and rich history of these two remarkable waters.
Cruising the four rivers of Wakulla are several Certified Green Guide boat captains who are eager to share with you the sights and sounds of the riverways. Captain James Hodges of St. Marks Charters. Capt. Joey Tillman of Wakulla Adventures, and Capt. Karen Parsons of Ochlockonee Adventures specialize in scenic boat tours that will expose you to our finest in river wildlife and natural wonders, provide outstanding photo opportunities, and can even transport you back in time. Capt. Jody Campbell offers full and half-day saltwater fishing charters as well as a lovely scenic sunset cruise of the Shell Point area.
Capt. James has been navigating the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers for years. He currently operates a very safe 26 ft Century, center console, 250 Yahama outboard, bathroom equipped with fresh water shower, night time running capabilities, 3D bottom machine, ipad and Pandora stereo. He especially enjoys taking passengers on historical trips to the lost town of Magnolia or on his interpretive San Marcos Coastal “Conquistador” tour. Capt. James also offers a “party boat” cruise that leaves the designated driving to him. His favorite though is the highly popular sunset cruise down the lower St. Marks River and out into Apalachee Bay for amazing views of the breathtaking sunset and magnificent St. Marks Lighthouse.
Capt. Joey is a Master Captain who operates his 30 ft. solar/hybrid pontoon boat with partially covered comfortable seating (wheelchair accessible) that guarantees 360 degree views of the natural beauty. Capt. Joey knows how to cruise. He is a former yacht captain and Master Naturalist who also ran eco adventure charters in the Bahamas for private cruise lines. In addition to his scenic riverboat cruises offered on the various rivers, Capt. Joey also runs a snorkeling trip in the mysterious waters of the clear Wakulla River.
Capt. Karen operates her comfortable SUN TRACKER pontoon deck boat up and down the Ochlockonee River.
Capt. Jody is well known around these parts for his full and half-day, saltwater fishing charters available on his handsome custom made, 26 foot, Gausebuilt, t-top, 250 Yamaha, very comfortable, safe boat with all tackle, bait and saltwater fishing license provided.
Other Certified Green Guides are available for guided paddling trips on many of our riverways as well. Check out our various listings.
Enjoy the magic of water this summer and become personally acquainted with the rivers or offshore Wakulla on a guided riverboat cruise, a kayak/canoe paddle or a saltwater fishing trip. Because There’s nothing…absolutely nothing …half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats. – (Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (River Rat to Mole))