boating saint johns river

Boating Through Florida’s St. Johns River

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 22, 2020

Last Updated on March 9, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

Exploring Florida’s Wetlands by Boat

There are so many different types of boats for rent in Florida. Miami is an excellent ocean destination, but did you know that Florida offers river cruises too? Consider hiring a captain and sailing up or down the St. Johns River. There are so many picturesque lakes and wetlands to explore on your journey, and marine wildlife like raccoons, bobcats, white-tailed deer and West Indian manatees abound in Blue Spring State Park. Avid birders should keep their eyes open for American black vultures, wood storks, and red-shouldered hawks. If you are into fishing, the river is full of bass, catfish and crappie, among other species.

North or South? You Can Go Both Ways

Technically, the St. Johns, an American Heritage River, flows north, but you can sail in either direction due to its very low flow rate. If you are starting your trip in southern Florida near Vero Beach and Lake Okeechobee, you’ll sail past Sanford and Orlando for over 300-miles. The river runs through Florida and empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville, where it widens considerably. At this point of the river, it becomes an estuary where seawater and freshwater mix, so the water is referred to as brackish. Nicknamed “the River City”, Jacksonville culture revolves around the St. Johns River and so it is the perfect place to dock your boat and drop anchor for a while. 

Take a Trip Back in Time

As Florida’s major commercial and recreational waterway, the St. Johns has a drainage basin of 8,840 miles. This basin includes many of Florida’s oldest wetlands. Get off the beaten path and take a trip through history by exploring some of Florida’s oldest settlements such as Mayport, Palatka, and Green Cove Springs. You’ll be sure to come back from your St. John’s boat rental with fascinating stories about places that none of your friends have ever even heard of!

You Might Even See Monkeys!

One of the strangest and most unexpected sights for sailors on the St. Johns River are troops of Rhesus Monkeys. Apart from being adept in trees, these monkeys are also actually extremely good swimmers. It is unclear how the monkeys came to live in the area, but regardless of their origin, they have adapted very well to the environment and they are now an integral part of the wildlife around the St. Johns River. They tend to thrive mostly where the St. Johns River meets the Wekiva River, right on the outskirts of Orlando and Sanford.

Reserving Your Sailboat

If you plan to sail north, we recommend reserving your boat in Vero Beach and making your way up the coast. If you plan to sail south, we recommend reserving your boat in Jacksonville. Either way, we will be sure to offer you a hassle-free reservation process. For more on boat rental city guides in the Florida area or to discover more river activities, log on today to find perfect Florida boat rentals for your trip up (or down) the St. Johns River.

Browse by experience

Explore articles