A Tampa Bay Canoe Adventure On The Hillsborough River With Canoe Escape

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Florida is amazing. It has Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks plus it has some of Mother Natures wonders. The Everglades, swamps, barrier islands and of course the “Keys”. You can balance your “Disney” vacation with quality time outdoors and be the better for it. As I drove from Orlando to Tampa Bay I made a Mother Nature pit stop. I was craving some quality time with Alligators and Turtles and there is a Tampa Bay canoe adventure outfit called Canoe Escape that offers exactly what I was looking for. A guided canoe ride on the Hillsborough River. Two and a half hours of wildlife spotting and communing with Mother Nature. A perfect way for me to balance out the crazy crowds of the past few days.

Tampa Bay Canoe Escapes on the Hillsborough River

Canoe Escape is located in a town called Thonotassa about a 30-minute drive from DT Tampa Bay. You can choose between self-guided and guided trips. Kayak or canoe the choice is yours. I’m canoeing with a guide because I want to take some pictures and because it would be cool to know what all the birds are that I’m gonna see.

The Tampa Bay Canoe Escapes office

Let every good adventure this one starts with a refresher course on proper canoeing techniques from Mike. Truth be told he will be doing most of the paddling.

Mike from Canoe Escapes gives me a quick lesson on how to canoe

Alligator warning

We are ready to paddle. I made a short video for you to see exactly what I experienced.

If I had to count how many birds and different kinds of birds we spotted I would need a counter. The variety was amazing. Plenty of Herons for sure.

Bird spotting on the Hillsborough River

Up close bird spotting on the Hillsborough River

Second, only to birds, we saw lots of turtles! As the canoe glides so quietly we were able to get fairly close to a few that were out for their daytime sunning.

Turtle spotting

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the peaceful Hillsborough River. Spotted a few boats with folks getting in some river fishing. Mostly though we had the river to ourselves.

Fishing on the Hillsborough River

Tampa Bay canoe adventure

Perfect weather for a canoe trip

What we saw the least of but what excites most people are Alligators. We saw plenty of little babies and a few young adults. Mostly they keep to the shallow shores except this one had climbed onto a tree branch stretched over the river. Nothing like a bit of sun on your scaly body to warm up the blood.

Alligator spotted in the shollows on the Hillsborough River

Alligator spotting

All in all this two and a half hour adventure on the Hillsborough River was exactly what I needed. A highlight of my trip so far and I highly recommend Tampa Bay Canoe Escape. You may wish to rent a kayak or canoe and go out on your own, but I recommend the guided tour. Not only do you get to see more but you absolutely won’t get lost in a side channel.

Having fun with Mike from Canoe Escapes

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Visit Florida and Visit Tampa Bay for hosting me and making this travel series possible. My views and opinions are 100% my own.


About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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