Music On The Water

Experience the magic of the rivers with a musical twist.

Written By Cynthia McFarland

When it comes to ecotours, Singing River Tours offers leisurely pontoon boat excursions in a pristine setting with unparalleled views of wildlife and nature. You can’t get any closer to the river without getting wet.

The cherry on the top is the musical entertainment provided by tour guide, boat captain and professional musician Jon Semmes. It’s a winning combination that has been delighting guests since 2004.

Photo courtesy of Singing River Tours

Having lived in Dunnellon since 1977, Jon is intimately familiar with the area’s two main rivers—the Rainbow and the Withlacoochee.

Since childhood, his life has been enriched by living on the river and by music. That he found a way to combine the two as a career is not surprising.

“For years I did music and nothing else, except for part-time summer jobs,” recalls Jon. “My last one was with rental boats, and I thought, ‘someone needs to be doing tours,’ so I got my captain’s license and bought a boat. I love the river, I love people and I love music, so why not combine all three?”

Singing River Tours does just that, offering guests a scenic experience exploring the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers.

During tours, which last about an hour and 40 minutes, Jon shares fascinating details about the area and its history, our amazing ecosystems and wildlife. From alligators and turtles to otters, a huge variety of birds and more, wild critters often put on a show.

Jon’s stories vary, and he doesn’t speak through a microphone, so it never feels “canned” or contrived as he enlightens guests about the crystal clear, spring-fed Rainbow River and the dark, swamp-fed Withlacoochee. One particularly memorable moment in the tour comes when guests see for themselves the magical place where both rivers converge.

About two-thirds of the way through the tour, Jon brings out his guitar and sings a few songs—all of which are about Florida.

Singing River Tours operates a 40-foot Coast Guard-inspected pontoon boat with a hard top from front to back, so guests have shade but unobstructed views. The boat is even handicap accessible.

The maximum number of guests per tour is 20. Tours are available seven days a week by reservation only and must be made in advance. The cost is $20 per person.

Tours depart from the Dunnellon City Boat Ramp at 20750 River Drive. Reservations can be made by phone only.

Singing River Tours

(352) 804-1573