The Halls River is a tributary to the Homosassa River, which is a winter home for manatees. Unlike the Homosassa, however, the Halls River is undeveloped along almost its entire length. Manatees can be found in the Homosassa in the winter, and I suspect in the lower reaches of the Hall's although we saw none on our trip. The river consists of channels connecting several pond-like estuaries. There is little current except in the connecting channels where they are steady but slow. Given the dense vegetation surrounding the river in most locations, the River is protected from most winds. Afternoon winds from the west can affect the Homosassa, into which the Hall's River empties. The Hall's River is a bird watchers paradise.
We (my wife, sister, three kids (8,7, and 2) set out from a launch site at Riversports Kayaks on Route 19 (Suncoast Highway) which seems to be a canal a the head of the Halls River. We set out in our wooden three person kayak and a rental double provided Riversport. We meandered through the estuaries and channels with frequent stops to drift. The rental double was quite maneuverable, but getting the larger boat through the oxbows took a little finesse. Most of the trip was serene and quite. These areas are what Florida looked like before massive development.
We saw no manatees while we were paddling, but also did not go out of way to find them. The Homosassa State Park is a showcase for manatees, and is located about a quarter mile east (upstream) of the confluence of the Homosassa and Halls Rivers. Boaters congregate at the sand bar that is present at the park borders, but boats cannot enter the park. Word has it that manatees frequent this area, and the River in general. Manatees can also be seen by visiting the state park, a worthwhile excursion.
We continued downstream on the Homosassa another mile or so to a motel/marina called Macrae's, where we were stayed. I believe we were the only guests to arrive by kayak. The motel is recommended, but river access is either at the powerboat docks or adjacent concrete boat ramp. A sandier take out is present on the south shoreline about another mile or so downstream at another public launch. There are a number of public and private launch sites along the river. Launching at Riversport will cost you two dollars. The entire trip totaled about 5 miles, with about 3.5 on the Halls. We did it in about 3.5 hours, moving at a relatively slow pace.
Riversports Kayaks provides rentals, launch site, shuttle service, and can provide guides. Several other outfitters are also located in the area.
MacRaes (352-628-2922) is a motel/marina/fishing shop/launch site, and serves food at the dockside bar. A number of other motels restaurants, campgrounds, marinas, and launch sites are located along the Homosassa River. Some of the restaurants are located on the water.
Riversport Kayaks is on Route 19 Southbound.
2300 South Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, Florida 34448
352-621-4972 or Toll Free at 877-660-0929