Friday, March 24, 2023

Latest Posts

Snorkeling In Crystal River Fl

Other Things To Do In Crystal River

Snorkeling Crystal River, FL {{PETES PIER}} MANATEE and Three Sisters Springs

There is more in Crystal River than manatees.. Here are a few other ideas:

Theres a tiny historic downtown with a few cute shops, a historic train station/museum and a beautiful street lined with live oaks planted by the womens club 100 years ago. The area is called Heritage Village.

Crystal River Archaeological State Park preserves an ancient Native American ceremonial site located in a beautiful setting overlooking the wide Crystal River.The mounds here are surprisingly impressive, but little is really known about the people who built them starting 2,500 years ago. A small museum has interesting artifacts and the picnic tables along the water are a great place to relax. 3400 N Museum Point, Crystal River, FL 34428. 352-795-3817.

Crystal River Preserve State Park is adjacent to the archaeological park. It has several trails with forest, marsh and water views. 3266 N. Sailboat Ave., Crystal River, FL 34428. 352-563-0450.

Yankeetown is not much of a town, but the fascination here is with the location at the end of a road that dead-ends into the Gulf of Mexico north of Crystal River. Theres a pretty view from there and a small park with a few picnic tables and a 10-foot-wide stretch of sandy beach. Yankeetown still remembers the day Elvis came to town he filmed Follow That Dream here in summer 1961. Heres more about Elvis in Yankeetown.

A note from the editor:

Important Things To Know When Planning Your Trip

Visiting the Crystal River to swim with manatees sounds like a great idea, and under the right conditions, it absolutely can be. However, a lot of manatee tour agencies may not be so quick to let you know the number of manatees presently inhabiting the region, ease of finding them, and current water visibility. Many times, this is due to the difficulty of predicting how manatee viewing conditions will be, even a couple days out.

The Crystal River and associated natural springs are famous for swimming with manatees because during the coldest times of year , manatees escape cooling gulf coast waters to the regions consistently moderate temperature springs. However, manatees dont just like warm water, they LOVE IT and will choose to be in the warmest water they can find, wherever that is. Sometimes winter in Florida can be pretty warm and the manatees stay in the Crystal River springs can be short lived or sporadic.

Snorkelers observing a manatee in Crystal River, Florida from a safe distance. Photo Credit: Thierry Eidenweil /

Snorkeling with manatees when visibility is bad.

In this case, a trip to Everglades National Park or the Florida Keys might be a better option for you. In both places, youll likely still be able to see manatees, just not swim with them. Below is a video taken from a canal-side restaurant in Key Largo.

The Kings Bay Crystal River And Three Sisters Springs Region

Three Sisters Springs gets all the media attention, and for good reason. Its gorgeous: A rare freshwater spring that has never been developed as a swimming hole or park, still featuring natural lush vegetation around its vivid and clear turquoise waters. And its popular with manatees as well as people!

But the Three Sisters Springs group represents just three of the 70 springs within the 600-acre bay. An estimated 600 to 800 manatees arrive in the area in the winter to take advantage of the comparatively warm 72-degree water pumped from the various springs, so there are Crystal River manatees in plenty of other locations.

The Fish and Wildlife Service have maps that show areas that are off-limits to boats because manatees congregate there, and those maps indicate a half dozen other manatee refuge zones in addition to Three Sisters.

Two other areas are popular with swim-with-manatee outfitters and kayakers exploring on their own:

  • Adjacent to a mangrove-filled Banana Island in Kings Bay is Kings Spring, the largest and original spring that prompted the creation of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in 1983. In the winter, manatees congregate here and boats but not swimmers are barred from Kings Spring.
  • Not far north of Three Sisters Spring, Hunter Spring City Park is the most popular place to put in kayaks and is close to Jurassic, House and Hunter springs, all of which attract manatees as well as people who want to swim with manatees.

Read Also: Playa Del Carmen Scuba Diving Certification

Is It Legal To Swim With Manatees In Florida

It is only legal to observe manatees from land or on top of the water in most areas. It is legal to enter the water and swim with manatees in Crystal River, but manatee protection rules and regulations must be followed.

To legally swim with manatees you are not allowed to:

  • Kick while in the water, use cupped hands to paddle
  • Pinch, claw, or scrape a manatees skin
  • Swim over a manatee
  • Stretch your arm toward a manatee
  • Harass, swim after or separate manatees away from the group
  • Enter into any protected sanctuaries
  • Feed or give any liquids to a manatee

Special Events During Manatee Season At Three Sisters

Thrill of a Lifetime

Also Check: Kelly Blue Book Value For Boats

Be Our Gust And Let Us Take Care Of The Rest

Hop aboard our US Coast Guard certified vessel where you will join your Master Captain to embark on your journey into the federally protected waters of the Crystal River Wildlife Refuge. You will be paired with one of our expert in-water guides who will be with you every step of the way to assit in making your manatee enounter safe and memorable. Your in-water guide will also serve as your professional photographer to capture your memories on film, and those photos will be available for purchase upon arrival back to our facility.

Reserve Your Adventure Today

Find the tour youre looking for with absolute ease.

Birds Underwater has offered family friendly manatee snorkel tours, and scuba diving instruction in Citrus County for over 30 years! We have gained a worldwide reputation for safety, integrity, customer service and just plain fun!

Birds Underwater offers manatee snorkel tours, scallop snorkel adventures, guided scuba dives, and kayak rentals. Our Dive Center offers a wide range of scuba instruction, gears sales, tank fills, and service. Check out our Google Reviews, with over 1500 five star reviews, our reputation speaks for itself!

Read Also: Jet Ski Rental Panama City Fl

Where Can I Swim With Manatees For Free

If you have your own boat or paddle craft, you can launch at one of the many marinas and boat launch sites around the Crystal River area and navigate yourself to Kings Bay. Unfortunately, most launch docks charge a parking and launch fee. If you really want a free experience, ask a local to use their dock and hope for the best!

I had an amazing experience swimming with these majestic creatures. Their playful, gentle, and curious nature makes it an experience suited for all ages and one impossible to forget! There are many ways to interact with manatees in the wild, but Crystal River really takes the cake if you are looking for an up-close and personal manatee adventure.

If you have been to Crystal River, Florida, to swim with manatees, or if this post inspired you to book a manatee swim experience, let me know in the captions below. Id love to hear about your trip and if it was as thrilling of an experience as mine was.

A Few Tips For Kayakers Who Want To See Crystal River Manatees:

Snorkeling with Dozens of Manatees | Crystal River, Florida
  • Hunter Spring City Park has parking, rest rooms and picnic tables, as well as a small swimming beach and a good put-in spot for kayaks. You can rent kayaks there too. Stop at the wildlife-refuge visitor center for a map or print one out here before you head out.
  • Hunter Cove is not a particularly natural setting but the water clarity is good and the springs attract manatees consistently.
  • You cant kayak into Three Sisters Springs in winter, but the area around it is good for manatee viewing. The downside: Lots of boats and snorkelers. Outside the winter season, Three Sisters Springs would make an awe-inspiring place to paddle, particularly if you got it to yourself.
  • If you arrive in your own kayak or canoe, there is a location outside Three Sisters Springs where you can tie up and swim into the springs. Read more about conditions there under the swim-with-the-manatee section below.

Read Also: Best Scuba Diving In Key Largo

Largest Collection Of Manatees In The World

Every winter, more than 800 manatees seek refuge in the warm waters of Kings Bay and the other 70 natural springs of Crystal River. As a result, the city stands out as the only place in the world that hosts the biggest gathering of manatees at once.

Through mid-November to March, the wintering sea cows are literally everywhere in Crystal River. This allows visitors and nature lovers from all over the world to easily see and interact with these rare animals.

Crystal River is the go-to place for manatee encounters, with crowds of people streaming into the city every winter to see and swim with the over a 1000-pound sea giant.

Seeing Crystal River Manatees From Your Own Kayak Or Canoe

Early in the manatee season, before any significant chill hit the area, we put in our canoe at Hunter Spring City Park on Thanksgiving Day in the hope of seeing manatees.

We paddled inland into Hunter Cove and saw manatees within five minutes. We went on toward Three Sisters Springs, but before we got there, a manatee swam under our canoe in Kings Bay. In the canal that leads to Three Sisters Spring, we saw more.

From Nov. 15 to March 31, you cant kayak into Three Sisters Springs, but outside the spring entrance is another roped off sanctuary called Idiots Delight Spring. There, on our side of the ropes, three manatees floated undisturbed under our canoe and around the area, giving us a lengthy and excellent viewing opportunity.

Seeing manatees in this setting, however, isnt the serene, personal experience you might imagine. At every point, we were ringed by swim-with-the-manatee boats, snorkelers and other kayaks circling around.

We were thrilled to see manatees, of course, but if you choose to come here, expect to be around lots of people too.

Recommended Reading: Pontoon Boat Covers For In The Water

Our Sentiments On Snorkeling With Manatees

Snorkeling with manatees should be on your bucket list PERIOD.

As scuba divers, Joey and I have been privileged to witness some of the most wondrous things hidden from the rest of the world below the surface of the water. Snorkeling in Crystal River certainly ranks high on that list.

Meeting a manatee in the wild is a unique and life-changing experience. Watching such a giant animal slide so effortlessly underwater with no fear of people holds your attention to no end, and hearing their squeaks and whistles almost makes you feel like they are talking to your soul.

Would we recommend our outfitter?

I wasnt necessarily over the moon with excitement with Crystal River Watersports. They were polite, professional and eventually found us manatees, but that is about the just of it. At the end of the day, after the boat ride to the location and problems getting under the bridge, we spend a grand total of 30 minutes in the water with manatees on our half day tour indeed NOT what I was expecting.

With manatee tours being a dime a dozen in the Crystal River region, we would recommend trying your luck with an alternate tour provider. Hopefully, with them, you will get a better in-water experience swimming with the closest thing we have on this planet to mermaids!

Practical Scuba Diver Information:

Manatee Madness All Day Private Tour $899

Snorkeling with Manatees in Crystal River

“Glamma and Grand Pa absolutely enjoyed this Tour” 6.0 hours with lunch

8 am start times

Spend all day with the manatees. Our prices and amenities will exceed your expectations. Enjoy the manatees privately with lunch, snacks and all snorkeling equipment with your Captain.

8 AM arrival!!!

In this extraordinary interactive experience, participants will enjoy the manatees in the shallow water as well as the unique opportunity of Swimming with The Manatees all day!

Aided by snorkel, mask and wet suits that are included, there is no better way than this to truly experience the grace and power of the West Indian Manatee.

Your phenomenal six-hour private manatee encounter is proceeded by an educational presentation to prepare you for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Along the way you may see dolphins, American bald eagles and many more birds of prey.

We provide all snacks, beverages and lunch with your Captain . Snorkeling gear and wet suits are included.

This is a private manatee encounter with just you and your family. Only those that booked this trip of the day will be on the boats, except for the captain. Join us for a day in our life…. our way of life!

You May Like: Stand Up Paddle Board Paddles

Private Manatee Extravaganza Tour $480

“Momma Enjoys This Tour” 4.0 hours

8 AM and 12:00 PM Daily

Mania, also known as “Manic Syndrome, is a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or “a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced effective expression together with liability of affect. Now that is the definition of a Manatee lover.

Want to spend a little more time with the Manatees and not break the bank? Then this tour is for you. For $480.00 you get a half day Private Manatee Encounter for your family and friends.

This tour is 4 hours from start to finish and we TRY and keep you in the water with the manatees for up to 2 hours.

The main DIFFERENCE in this tour and our Magnificent Manatee Tour is 1.0 hour. Little bit more, laid back for just a few bucks. You can bring up to 6 passengers on this tour.

  • Children from the ages 2 and up recommended
  • 17 and under must be with a Guardian
  • Wetsuits, Mask and Snorkel included
  • Face it, after 35 you can not get out of your pool float with dignity, so we will provide you a water noodle.
  • Hot Chocolate/Coffee during the cooler days.
  • Pictures? Yes, request an IN-WATER-GUIDE for a photo opportunity to purchase after charter.
  • 8 AM and 12:00 PM
  • 4.0 hours Private Mania Extravaganza
  • Guaranteed window seats and personal quarters with your captain.
  • No more than 6 passengers in a group, if you have more than 6 call or email for special seating

Quick and easy On-Line booking

Thanks For Your Paymentwe’ve Emailed You A Receiptthanks For Booking With Uswe’ve Emailed You This Confirmation And A Receiptwe’ve Emailed You This Confirmation

If you need to make a change, please call .We look forward to seeing you!

  • Order #Booking #
  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.
  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.
  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.

Your card’s three or four digit verification number, usually on the back.

  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.
  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.

Your card’s three or four digit verification number, usually on the back.

  • Select a valid choice. The value is not one of the available choices.


Recommended Reading: Dauphin Island Jet Ski Rentals

Meet Crystal Rivers Manatees & Other Wildlife

Crystal River, Florida, is also home to stunning natural springs and lots of wildlife, and youll get to meet an essential part of it as we gear up for the signature manatee snorkeling tour under the supervision of a Coast Guardcertified captain *. You will learn all about the unique West Indian manatee and then get a chance to see some of them up close and personal in the crystal-clear waters of the aptly named Crystal River! While we see manatees almost every time, these are wild animals and we cant guarantee with 100% accuracy where they will be.

Then we head off to 210-acre Homosassa Springs State Park, a genuine hidden gem of Florida nature, where there is plentiful local wildlife to see and hear about, including the endangered Florida panther, black bears, red wolves, bobcats and alligators, as well as a profusion of birdlife most notably whooping cranes and flamingos.

Snorkeling And Fishing: Scalloping In Crystal River

Manatee Snorkeling – Crystal River, FL

If youre looking for an amazing fishing and snorkeling experience, look no further than scalloping in Crystal River. Crystal River is a great place to spend a day or two with easy access to some of the best scalloping spots in the state and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling.

And dont worry if youre not an experienced scalloper there are plenty of local guides who can help you catch your dinner. So pack your gear and head on down to Crystal River for some of the best fishing and snorkeling around!

Read Also: Jon Boat Cover 12 Ft

How Much Does It Cost To Swim With Manatees

Tours with a guide cost $65-$80 + tip for a 2-3 hour tour. You can expect up to an hour and a half in the water with the manatees. Most tours provide wet suits, snorkel, masks, towels, and additional flotation devices like a noodle.

A more cost-effective way to swim with manatees is to rent your own paddle craft and visit the manatee zones on your own. Kings Bay is pretty easy to navigate, and most rentals are close to manatee viewing/swimming areas. Expect to pay up to $50 a day for a rental or $10-$20 an hour.

Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.