A glass-bottom boat is a great way to go sightseeing on a river, provided the glass and the water are both clear, and the glass is strong enough to withstand the force of any boulder a passenger might drop on the floor. At Silver Springs State Park in Florida, the state’s oldest tourist attraction, dating back to 1878, is a glass-bottom boat tour on this incredibly clear river fed by dozens of springs.

When we arrived for the tour, 6 divers were in the water cleaning the bottoms of the boats. So we and the only other passenger for the first tour were able to get a fish-eye view of several springs, as well as many kinds of fish. We also got a good look at a large rowboat that sank when Spanish explorers came here 400 years ago, and 3 odd statues that were left when an episode of I Spy filmed here in 1967.

The deep, clear water, which can double for an ocean in some places, has been used in countless films and TV episodes, including the old Tarzan films with Johnny Weissmuller, some James Bond films, and many episodes of Sea Hunt. Our tour was guided by a boat captain who’s been doing these tours for nearly 50 years now. He must know practically every fish in the river by name, and was probably around for many of these famous film shoots.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot the creature from the black lagoon (also filmed here). Nor did we see any monkeys in the trees. We didn’t even spot an alligator. Guess we’ll just have to come back sometime.

Special thanks to Glass Bottom Boats of Silver Springs for providing the adventure.