For those looking for a fun activity for the whole family or maybe just an afternoon in nature, look no further than Alafia River Canoe Rentals, located on the banks of the Alafia River just off of Lithia Pinecrest Road. Tucked among the trees, Alafia River Canoe Rentals has served the Southeastern Hillsborough County area for close to 50 years. For a mere $25 for a full day’s rental of a canoe, it is difficult not to have a good time navigating the twists and turns of the Alafia.
When you pull up to Alafia River Canoe, you are quickly greeted by owner and founder Sybil (who prefers her last name not be used), from where she operates the business beneath her house, as she has for decades. From the time you approach the stand to when you return to the docks, Sybil is the epitome of customer service. With her answering any questions you may have about the river and the area she knows like the back of her hand, you can feel confident that you will have a great day on the river when renting here.
This long-standing business came to be in 1976 when Sybil’s husband went out to get a canoe to navigate the periodical flood waters that would come around their house — and ultimately returned with four of them. Over the next decade or so, those four canoes grew into a fleet of canoes and kayaks, peaking close to 200 in the 1990s. While the success sparked two other canoe rentals nearby in the past, in 2023, Alafia River Canoe Rentals stands alone as the oldest canoe rental for the Alafia River.
“We just stuck it out through the floods and some tougher times, and we are still here,” Sybil said.
While it has sold off about half of those canoes in recent times, that has not led a downturn, as the company is firmly entrenched in the community it serves, and there are no plans to go anywhere anytime soon. Most popular in the springtime, as that is when the river is the most stable, it attempts to operate year-round.
If you find yourself interested, it is recommended to call ahead of time to make sure the river is navigable. For more information, call 813-689-8645 or visit its Facebook page, Alafia River Canoe Rentals. It is located at 4419 River Dr. in Valrico.