St John’s River Eco Tours operates the most eco-friendly sightseeing boat cruise on the St. John’s River. We operate from the Highbanks Marina & Camp Resort in Debary, Florida. We offer several boat tours daily exploring the river, observing th
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.
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!).
We offer three daily tours. Get up bright and early to join us on our 10:00 AM two hour narrated nature tour departing from Highbanks Marina. Search for alligators, manatees and the myriad bird species that make the St. Johns River their home. Our 1:30PM trip is another two hour fully narrated nature tour, and it's the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. Our 2-hour seasonal sunset tour will leave you in awe of nature's beauty and majesty. On this wonderful tour, watch as the wildlife go to sleep and the night comes to life!
We also offer several other specialized excursions that are available just for private groups, including full day excursions, weddings, office parties & meetings, customized photography & birding tours as well as memorial services.
What should I bring along on the tour?
A camera is probably the one thing you will want to bring along and make sure that you have fresh batteries. Binoculars are also a good idea. It is always cooler on the water so a jacket is a good idea except in the summertime. The boat is covered so sun screen may not be necessary. Insects are not an issue as the black water river keeps down mosquitoes. We serve complimentary cold bottled water.
How big is the boat and how many people will it hold?
The boat is a 35 footer and will hold up to 28 people on each cruise. Some special cruises have a smaller maximum.
Is the cruise narrated?
Yes, the cruise is narrated by the Captain and he will point out wildlife as well as other highlights as we approach them throughout the cruise.
Is the boat wheelchair and handicap accessible?
The boat is generally not handicap accessible. If you would like to discuss your specific situation, please feel free to contact us.
Can I bring food and drinks with me?
Sure! Feel free to bring your own food and drinks including alcoholic beverages, but please no glass. Food and drinks will not be available for purchase on the boat, so we encourage you to bring your own!
Is there a place to sit? Is seating assigned?
Seating is not assigned and we offer comfortable bench style seating.
Do you have life jackets?
Yes, we have enough life jackets for every passenger, but you will not be required to wear them during the cruise.
Do I have to worry about seasickness?
The cruise is smooth and stable, so seasickness is generally not a problem. However, we do recommend taking any necessary precautions if you are prone to motion sickness.
I’m pregnant. Can I still go on the cruise?
The cruise is steady enough for pregnant women - however, if you are in your third trimester or have other concerns, it is always best to consult with a doctor beforehand. Please keep in mind that we are about 30 minutes away from medical attention.
Should I tip the crew?
Gratuity is not included in the price of your ticket but is always greatly appreciated for a stellar job.
Can I bring my pet on tour?
Service animals are welcome as well as dogs that are leashed, well behaved and under 40 pounds. Is there a restroom on the boat?
Yes, the boat is equipped with a restroom for your convenience.
Where do I park?
There is a free parking lot located at the Highbanks Marina. You will receive detailed directions and a map of the exact location after purchasing your tickets.
Where does the cruise end?
The cruise will finish at the same dock that it departs from.
Is smoking allowed?
No, smoking is not permitted on the vessel.
Are gift certificates available?
Yes, gift certificates are available and make great gifts for any occasion! If you're interested in purchasing a gift certificate, let us know by.
Can I book a private cruise?
Yes, private charters are available. We can accommodate a variety of special events from corporate outings to weddings! Please let us know what you’re interested in.