Hitting the Water In Marion County and Beyond!

Looking to beat the heat and to enjoy fun summer days with family and friends?

There’s so much to explore in our region during these lazy days of summer. With an abundance of outdoor recreational activities near Ocala, narrowing down your list will be the greatest challenge. The first priority of any outdoor lover is to enjoy all the water resources in our own backyard. It’s a very quick trip to several natural waterways where boating, kayaking, rafting, tubing and canoeing season is year round.

Silver Springs is a very popular local destination, made famous by their glass bottom boat tours. There is a variety of boat rentals and eco tours which treat visitors to the abundance of wildlife within a quick drive of downtown Ocala. Since Silver Springs is located at the entrance to the Ocala National Forrest, there’s also ample camping, RV, and cabin choices for a fun overnight getaway.

If fishing is your thing, then we recommend a quick trip north of Ocala to Orange Lake, which is the largest lake in northwest Florida, occupying over 12,500 acres! This lake is one of Matt Varney’s favorite fishing destinations, with abundant vegetation and an ample stock of Bluegill, Red Ear Sunfish, Black Crappie and Largemouth Bass.

Matt kayaking and fishing on Orange Lake!
Paddling on Crystal River, Photo Courtesy of Manatee Paddle

If you’re craving a bit more action…

See if searching for gators on an airboat tour is more your speed. Airboats seat two to six passengers and easily glides over the Marion County marshes and lakes. Take a pontoon boat tour if slowing it down is more appealing, it’s also a great way to view alligators, fish and nesting birds in the local rivers and lakes. A quick google search will reveal that there is a plentitude of boat rental companies in Marion County.

Want to escape to the west coast of Florida? Crystal River is a little over an hour drive and offers multiple beaches, state parks, wildlife refuges, boating, fishing, scuba diving, hiking, golfing, camping and vacation rentals. Experience paddle boarding or kayaking among the manatees on the Crystal River with the Manatee Paddle Company! They offer multiple packages for equipment rentals, paddle board lessons, nature exploration, fishing, swimming with the manatees and paddleboard fitness classes.

Rob Desino and friends recently enjoyed a day on Crystal River boating and harvesting scallops.  Catching dinner on any of our are waterways certainly makes for a rewarding day in our beautiful region!