Mount Dora Canal Cruise

One of the enjoyable pass times when you visit Mount Dora Florida is taking the Mount Dora Canal Cruise.

The 2-hour cruise starts with a 30 minute run down the length of Lake Dora, past Tavares, to where the canal provides navigation between Lake Dora and Lake Eustis.  On a hot Florida afternoon, this would be bliss.

Unfortunately, the day we took the Mount Dora Canal Cruise, it was the day after one of the coldest wintertime nights in Florida, and though the sun was brilliant, the cold, Canadian-sourced north wind blew through every article of clothing, and shredded body heat from our shivering limbs. Would we do it again? You bet. We would just wait for a warmer day!

 Mount Dora Canal Cruise with Rusty Anchor

Rusty Anchor Canal Cruise boat in Mount Dora Florida

Rusty Anchor Canal Cruise boat in Mount Dora Florida

This trusty Rusty Anchor named watercraft was piloted by Captain Scott. It turns out that he’s the owner, and in fact, if Mount Dora had herself a hospital, he would have been born in Mount Dora, rather than up the road. A local boy, for sure.

Where the Mount Dora canal cruise goes?

As mentioned earlier, the canal between Lake Dora and Lake Eustis as at the west end of Lake Dora.  The Mount Dora main dock is at the east end of Lake Dora. To get from there to the canal, Captain Scott first took us along the east and north shores so we could enjoy the waterfront palaces those privileged and wealthy enough to do so, had built. Some pretty spectacular homes, for sure.

Mount Dora dock receding as we head out and down Lake Dora for the canal cruise.

Mount Dora dock receding as we head out and down Lake Dora for the canal cruise.

We then zipped the remaining what… 3 miles or so to the west end of the lake, and the entrance to the canal.

Since the 1830’s the canal has been navigable, and was the trade route between Lake Eustis communities and those on Lake Dora. As a commercial route the canal was supplanted when railroads came to the country, and now, it allows boaters on Lake Eustis to get through the canal to Lake Dora, and vice versa.

Our first glimpse of the canal, described by travel writers as “the most beautiful mile of water in the world” was actually quite disappointing. It was a trailer park on the canal. But then we realized that it wasn’t just a trailer park. Some of the homes where lovely.

Entrance to canal from Lake Dora to Lake Eustis

Entrance to canal from Lake Dora to Lake Eustis

The first quarter mile of the canal is a residential park as we noted,  and we recall being filled with a bit of envy as we saw some of the lovely properties on this canal and, at the same time, being a bit disappointed by the view of what was supposed to be pristine Florida wilderness.

But then, the magic begins.

Anhingas on Mount Dora canal cruise

We regret that the photos cannot do the beauty of the canal justice. It needs to be seen live to be fully enjoyed.

Mount Dora canal cruise

Wildlife on the canal

On a good day visitors can see, as the Rusty Anchor almost drifts along the canal, otters, alligators, sometimes raccoons, once Captain Scott saw a bobcat, and of course, dozens if not hundreds of native birds.

Mount Dora canal cruise

Aside from the birds, as we sifted along, we saw no other wildlife in the canal. We suspect that it was so cold the day we took the tour that most of them had gone south! 🙂

The other main attraction is seeing  the trees. My, the trees are spectacular. Captain Scott says that some of the trees in the canal are 200 years old. Other sources put some of these massive cypresses at 2,000 years of age. Regardless of how old they are, they are worth seeing.

Mount Dora canal cruise

Value – Child Alert

We took advantage of a popular coupon service to get two passages on the cruise for the price of one.

Even with the very cold weather, the absence of wildlife in the canal proper, we felt that we got good value for our money. I’m not so sure I would say that if we had paid full price.

I’m also not sure how younger children might maintain their interest over the two hour cruise.

I would mark this Mount Dora attraction as being for older children, teens and adults. People that can appreciate the knowledge that the good boat’s Captain has and that he so skillfully shares with us during the cruise.

Comments about your Mount Dora canal cruise are welcome, using the form below.

Call ahead

If the weather is sketchy, do what we didn’t. Call ahead to make sure there actually is going to be a cruise in your time slot. We didn’t call ahead, got there for our 12:30 cruise, the weather was so cold that many folks didn’t show up, and we were bumped. Waited around Mount Dora (no hardship I assure you) for a couple of hours, and caught the 3:00 pm trip.

Mount Dora canal cruise

When they say that the cruise will not go without 6 paying passengers, they are serious. Mostly! 🙂

But seriously, call ahead to be sure.

Rusty Anchor Boat Tours
400 W. 4th Ave.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
352-383-3933 (Captain’s cell phone)

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