Famed for their natural beauty, the rivers in Florida mesmerize thousands of people annually. They also relax or excite their visitors through a host of activities like swimming, kayaking, and fishing. But don’t expect to be at peace at EVERY river you head to.
Some of the most serene rivers across the sunny state have dark secrets and violent ghosts lurking around. From an angry couple to a solemn Native American ghost and all the way to a grieving father – there are entities that are out to get the living.
If you seek a peaceful time at the river side, you may want to think twice before heading to the ten rivers listed below.
Table of Contents
- 10) Suwannee River, White Springs
- 9) Choctawhatchee River, Caryville
- 8) Withlacoochee River, Green Swamp East of Polk City
- 7) Chipola River, Jackson County
- 6) Alafia River, Lithia
- 5) Peace River, Polk County
- 4) Ochlockonee River, Tallahassee
- 3) Santa Fe River, Branford
- 2) Miami River, Miami
- 1) Halifax River, Daytona Beach
10) Suwannee River, White Springs
There are many true ghost stories surrounding the Suwannee River running through Florida. But the most terrifying tale of these is that of a young boy. Legend has it that the boy was the youngest of six children. Burdened by expenses, his father drowned him in the river during a fishing trip. Since then, the child has been haunting the river, seeking friends to spend eternity with him.
In 2009, a six-year-old boy jumped into the river near Bell. While trying to rescue the child, his step-mom felt something drag them both into the water. After successfully escaping it, she saw a pale child watch them from the bank. He watched the child while she resuscitated him, but disappeared when the boy breathed on his own.
Unfortunately, there are many who did end up with the Suwannee River’s young ghost. So, be careful if you’re tagging any kids along.
9) Choctawhatchee River, Caryville
If you want to come face to face with a ghost, head to the swampy Boynton Island near Holmes Creek in Washington County. At the very least, you’ll hear Moses Boynton play his fiddle and call dances to a group of “spectral dancers”. But Moses is one of the few gentle ghosts on Choctawhatchee River. There are many violent entities, especially near the swamps.
In 2011, a young man panicked when his kayak hit a floating body. Leaning to look, he was shocked to see the rotting corpse latch onto his paddle to topple him into the water. Barely keeping his balance, he let go of the paddle and shouted for help. The water grew calm instantly and the ghost was gone.
8) Withlacoochee River, Green Swamp East of Polk City
Look at any picture of the Withlacoochee River and the first thing you’ll notice is how calm its water is. But anyone who’s spent longer periods there will tell you that this isn’t always true.
A woman hiking with her dogs suddenly noticed the calm water froth and gurgle nearby. One of her dogs ran to the bank to investigate and was suddenly pulled under the surface. She swam quickly to save him, expecting to come face to face with an alligator. Instead, she saw a child missing a chunk of his nose and an arm dragging her dog.
She herself was reportedly dragged under by another boy, somewhat older and missing two limbs. While the dog didn’t make it, she managed to survive to write about this in her blog. According to the post, the locals believe these are the victims of the alligators that once swam there.
7) Chipola River, Jackson County
The Chipola River is considered one of the most haunted rivers in Florida because of the ghost of Bellamy Bridge. Spanning the river in the north of Marianna, the steel frame bridge is the forever home of Elizabeth Jane Bellamy.
Hours after her wedding, the dress of the young bride of Dr. Samuel C. Bellamy caught on fire. She died a few days later and was buried near the river. After the bridge was built, Elizabeth was constantly seen walking aimlessly in the surrounding swamps.
Even if you don’t see the ghostly bride, you may come across other paranormal activity. Some people report seeing a ball of flame descending through the bridge’s framework, and white lights in the surrounding swamp.
6) Alafia River, Lithia
Alafia River may be famous for bass, bluegill, and catfish. But there’s always a chance that you may catch something else. Or be caught yourself.
While fishing at the south prong of the river, a man noticed the water grow darker around the line. Leaning in, he was hit by the rancid smell of blood. While looking for the source of the blood, he saw a pair of eyes blink before falling into the river.
After being saved by a passerby, the man claimed that a pair of cold hands encircled him and pulled him deeper. Scratches around his neck and abdomen confirm that. But both men couldn’t find what dragged him or see any blood around.
5) Peace River, Polk County
Contrary to its name, Peace River won’t offer you any peace. Especially if you’re sensitive to the paranormal.
Many have seen the ghost of a Native American glaring at them. A local newspaper claims that he’s belongs to one of the tribes that lived near the river’s banks in the early 1500s. However, not much is known about him.
The piers are especially dangerous after sunset. In addition to cold spots, people report hearing footsteps running behind them. A woman claims that her water cooler started levitating before hurling towards her. So, be careful while there.
4) Ochlockonee River, Tallahassee
Ochlockonee became one of the haunted rivers in Florida relatively recently.
While kayaking with his child, a young man hit what he presumed to be a giant log. The alligator began hitting the side of the kayak until the child fell into the water. The father rushed to save the boy, but it was too late.
Locals say he held onto the child’s body until the authorities found two bodies a week later.
If you’re ever kayaking down this river, especially near Sopchoppy, you may hear him wail or even see him. But if he asks you about his son, don’t tell him the truth or say you don’t know. Several people felt as if they were choking while the ghost cried and mumbled “I’m sorry”.
3) Santa Fe River, Branford
The Santa Fe River is home to the ghost of a woman from the Spanish colonial era. Legend has it that she planned to elope with her lover, abandoning her husband and two girls. But when he rejected her, she shot him and ran back home.
Crazed, she drowned her daughters in Santa Fe acequia and ended her own life in the Santa Fe River.
Now, she roams the banks of the river, screaming and crying loudly. Men, however, should beware. Scorned by one, she tends to attack males viciously. So, if you see a woman in a flowing, white gown, RUN.
2) Miami River, Miami
Miami River is one of the infamous haunted rivers in Florida. Ask anyone, mainly the residents of Flagler and River Dr., and they’ll warn you to never walk around alone after sunset. The older neighborhood near the muddy part of the river is especially bustling with paranormal activity at night.
And unless you’re in a sturdy boat, avoid the remote parts of the river. The angry ghost of a murdered servant girl is known to drag people to a watery death. A woman almost lost her fiancé to the ghost’s wrath. Five years later, till this day, she remembers the crazy laugh she heard as he struggled to live.
1) Halifax River, Daytona Beach
The residents of Daytona Beach reported seeing two ghosts around Halifax River, a man and a woman. Legend has it that the woman threw herself and her unborn child into the river after receiving news of her lover’s death. When he returned for her, he found out about her death and followed suit.
Despite their tragic death, these ghosts are very violent. The woman is especially hostile towards couples. A hiker saw his fiancé levitate as if something lifted her by the neck. He threw empty punches as he could see nothing holding her up.
The woman toppled to the ground after she fainted. But the worst was far from over. The man felt nails dig into his abdomen and then slash towards his thighs. Had another person not passed by, he would have bled to his death.