The Naiad (pronounced Nye ad) is a state of the art, electric/ gasoline hybrid sightseeing cruising catamaran that is large enough to have all of the necessary electronics and safety features but is small enough to explore areas that larger and more crowded boats cannot. This means that you experience the river in a way that no one else can offer. During the design stage of building our boat careful attention was given to creating a vessel large enough to accommodate you and up to 27 of your friends and family, but small enough to keep the experience intimate. Our boat is equipped with a chart plotter and sonar which allows us to go where others cannot. We also have a 20 foot Sweetwater pontoon boat, the Lady B we utilize as a tender, and small, private tour boat which has a GPS and port-o-potti in a privacy room. Our boats are piloted by U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captains who are experienced nature tour guides. Our deckhands while generally unlicensed are there as an added measure of safety and to ensure your comfort.
We offer two daily tours. Get up bright and early and join us on our 10:00am for a 2 hour narrated nature tour, we’ll depart from Highbanks Marina and search for alligators, manatees and the myriad of birds that make the St. Johns River their home. Our 1:00pm trip is another 2 hour fully narrated nature tour, the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. We have several other specialized excursions that are available on a reservation basis only, please see the Special Excursion page of our website for more information. A seasonal 4:00 or 4:30 afternoon tour (available October 15th thru November 15th, February 14th thru April 30th) is available by reservation only with a minimum of four adults.
This area of Florida is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, for most of our trip we will be traveling past property that is state park land or conservation land set aside by Florida Power and Light. You will see the St. Johns River as William Bartram the first American born naturalist/artist saw it back in 1773. Alligators are generally abundant (but please remember, these are wild animals, I can never guarantee that we will spot all the animals I mention) as are the wading birds that migrate to this area in the winter time. Goat Island Run is a popular feeding spot for manatees during the winter. Mammals we encounter along the banks of the river include; deer, raccoons, otters, bob cats, nine banded armadillos, feral pigs, Florida black bear and there are rumors of a Florida panther being spotted (that would make my day!).
The St. Johns River is one of Florida’s natural wonders. It is one of only a few rivers in the world that flows from South to North and empties into the ocean. The river is 315 miles long and is the longest river in the state of Florida. The head waters begin in the flood plains, swamps and recharge area in Indian River/St. Lucie Counties near Blue Cypress Lake and Fellsmere Swamp. The early Native Americans called the St. Johns 'Welaka' meaning river of lakes. There are 15 lakes along the length of the river and 3,500 throughout the St. Johns river watershed. Three rivers, the Wekiva, Econlockhatchee, and the Ocklawaha as well as approximately three hundred springs all are tributaries of the St. Johns, but nevertheless most of the approximately five billion gallons of water the St. Johns dumps into the Atlantic Ocean is mostly rainwater.
Located at Channel marker #91, our marina is protected from the main channel of the river. It is the home port for 37 boats. The marina features the Swamp House Grill Restaurant and Highbanks Camp Resort. Picnic tables are available dockside if you wish to picnic before your cruise. There is our Country Store if you wish to buy beverages and snacks. There is ample free parking.