Swim with Manatees & Different Encounters in Florida’s Crystal River

The pristine waters and unspoiled forests of Crystal River in Florida are probably the most exceptional sights you may see right here. Nevertheless, it’s not simply the attractive environment that make individuals wish to go to—it’s additionally the Crystal River manatees!

The river is house to one of many largest teams of manatees on the earth, which are available droves throughout the winter season for its heat waters. After all, this opens up the possibility to see and work together with them.

After all, this opens up the possibility for some epic bucket checklist experiences, like kayaking and swimming with manatees.

What are Manatees?

Manatees are a sea creature that has as soon as been the stuff of legends, with even famed explorer Christopher Columbus mistaking them for mermaids, the lovable manatees are really a sight to behold. Also called ‘sea cows,’ these aquatic herbivores are identified for his or her stubby noses, giant bulk, and mild (and infrequently curious) nature.

They’ll develop as much as 4 meters (13 ft 1 in) in size and might weigh as a lot as 590 kg (1300 lbs). Though they could look much like seals or walruses, they’re, actually, extra intently associated to the elephant. They feed on freshwater and saltwater vegetation like water lettuce and sea grasses. Nevertheless, they do sometimes eat small fish and clams.

Sadly, attributable to habitat loss and hunters, the manatee inhabitants are at a state of decline. Happily, ongoing conservation efforts and strict guidelines and pointers are being applied to make sure that these lovely sea cows are protected and be seen by generations to come back.


The place to See Manatees in Florida

A lot of the state parks and waterways round Florida are just about wildlife sanctuaries for manatees, particularly at Crystal River (which has additionally been dubbed the ‘House of the Manatee’). Among the finest spots embody Three Sisters Spring (at Crystal River), Blue Spring State Park, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Wildlife Refuge and the Manatee Observation and Education Center.

There are additionally rehabilitation facilities/parks like SeaWorld and Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, the place you may see rescued manatees together with different fascinating ocean creatures.

You may also take a look at an inventory of those state parks and facilities on the Florida FWC website.

The Greatest Manatee Experiences in (or close to) Crystal River

Seeing Manatees from the Three Sisters Spring Boardwalk

The Three Sisters Springs is a 57-acre wildlife refuge in Crystal River, Florida. It acquired its identify from the three spring areas, which include vents and sand boils that feed the waters of Kings Bay and different close by canals.

The refuge has a scenic boardwalk that gives loads of alternatives to snap a photograph (or fifty) of manatees as they slowly cruise the waters, particularly throughout winter. You may also discover one of many nature trails and see the three springs in all their pure magnificence.

Three Sisters Springs

Whereas the manatees are the celebs of the place, don’t miss out on seeing totally different native and migratory birds (and different wildlife) that paint the waters and treetops throughout your wildlife viewing.

P.S. Selfie sticks and drones usually are not allowed within the space. Additionally observe ‘Go away No Hint Behind.’


Kayaking with Crystal River Manatees

Interactions with Florida manatees may appear restricted for some, however that doesn’t imply that water actions are completely out of the image. It simply needs to be secure for each you and the manatees, which is why boarding a kayak on a manatee tour is an ideal means to take action.

Are you able to think about gliding on the water side-by-side with a manatee?

You’ll find loads of outfitters like Paddle Outdoor Rentals who present kayak excursions for guests.

​​See them (and plenty of different animals) at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

There are many locations the place we are able to see manatees right here in Florida, and even some the place we are able to see extra than simply manatees! Only a few miles south of Crystal River in Homosassa, Florida, is a state park known as the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The park is house to quite a lot of animals, together with manatees, alligators, black bears, many species of birds, a 62-year-old hippo named Lu, and lots of extra.

You may take a ship or tram tour by the park to see the animals of their pure habitats, with a number of instructional displays and exhibits that spotlight the park’s inhabitants. One other spotlight is the Fish Bowl Underwater Observatory, the place you may see the aquatic animals up shut of their pure habitat. There’s additionally a couple of trails within the park, just like the 0.75-mile Pepper Creek Birding Path, which takes you from the customer middle to the park’s west entrance whereas seeing wildlife alongside the way in which.


Annette at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park


Swimming with the Manatees in Crystal River

Now comes probably the most thrilling methods you may expertise the Crystal River ‘sea cows’: attending to swim with manatees! The river is definitely one of many few locations the place you may legally do that, so it’s no surprise many individuals come right here from totally different locations only for this particular probability. 

I did my swim with Hunter Springs Kayaks & Tours, the place I used to be accompanied by an in-water information your complete time to make sure that the principles are noticed so that you just (and the manatees) can have a good time.

It is a surreal expertise, the place manatees might be swimming proper by you. Although you’re not supposed to the touch them, one got here proper subsequent to me and wrapped his flipper round my waist! One other was interested in my GoPro digital camera which gave me an epic closeup video of his cute face. 

Swimming with Manatees

Greatest Suggestions for Swimming with Crystal River Manatees

Wait! Earlier than you bounce proper in, you’ll first have to be taught a set of ‘manatee manners’ which ought to be adopted always. Whether or not it’s kayaking, paddleboarding, or swimming, there are a few ‘manatee manners‘ that everybody ought to be taught and observe. Whereas it could appear overwhelming at first, when you get to know them by coronary heart, you’re in your option to getting essentially the most out of this glorious expertise.

Among the finest suggestions when swimming with manatees embody:

  • Maintain your distance and by no means contact or provoke contact except the manatees come to you first (which these curious creatures typically do, particularly if you happen to’re floating gently). In the event that they achieve this, you could gently contact them with one hand on the again or abdomen. Some would possibly even ask for stomach rubs!
  • Concentrate on your environment – keep away from getting near off-limit areas (marked with floating warning indicators) or from resting/feeding manatees.
  • Maintain calm – don’t make any loud noises or huge/sudden actions, as it would scare the manatees away.
  • Put on applicable swimwear (e.g. a wetsuit and snorkel)


What’s the The Greatest Time to See Manatees at Crystal River

Whereas there’s at all times the possibility to see a manatee or two any day of the 12 months, the perfect time to fulfill them can be between November fifteenth to March thirty first.

Throughout this era, giant manatee teams come collectively at Crystal River and Kings Bay to heat themselves up for the winter season as a result of their water temperature stays at a relentless heat 72 levels.

After all, this annual migration additionally attracts in heaps of people that wish to see these creatures of their pure habitat, so count on there to be fairly a crowd throughout these instances.

The place to Keep in Crystal River

Assembly manatees is actually a one-of-a-kind expertise, and I can’t blame you if you happen to really feel like spending simply someday with them will not be sufficient (which is often the case!). Good factor is that there are many lodging out there within the space like the place you may relaxation for the day and even take pleasure in a few of their facilities.

One such lodging is at The Plantation on Crystal River. With over 196 traditional rooms (which incorporates 11 Junior Suites and a dozen Golf Villas), an 18-hole golf course, bar & grill eating places, and a magnificence and wellness spa, you might be positive to be left entertained, pampered, and energized on your subsequent assembly with the manatees.

. . .

Whether or not you select kayaking, swimming with Crystal River manatees or recognizing them from a boardwalk, it could be among the best wildlife experiences to examine off your bucket checklist. 

Whichever means you select to work together with these light ‘sea cows,’ let the second go away you much more curious and excited for future wildlife encounters.

Greatest Suggestions for Visiting Crystal River Florida

Getting There: Tampa Worldwide Airport is a serious hub and most airways will fly into it. You may simply examine for the perfect fare offers at Skyscanner, which additionally has the choice to decide on ‘least expensive month’ because the departure to seek out the bottom priced dates to fly to your vacation spot. From the airport to town middle, you may take shuttle service, bus service, taxi and ride-hailing companies or hire a automotive.

The place to Keep in Crystal River Florida: It’s finest to remain close to town middle, public transportation or the world that you may be spending essentially the most time in. Apart from the The Plantation on Crystal River talked about above there are many different choices for lodges. Holiday Inn Express Crystal River is a good alternative within the Crystal River. For one thing on the inexpensive facet, attempt Nature Coast Inn & Cottages positioned in Inglis. For a lodge with just a little extra extravagance, e-book a room on the Hampton Inn Crystal River. Or search some nice offers on lodges of your alternative at Booking.com. In the event you’re searching for extra of a house ambiance (or are touring with a gaggle of individuals), head over to Airbnb that has homes, flats and even only a room for hire in each worth vary. 

Getting Round: Driving in a brand new vacation spot could be a little bit of a problem, however if you happen to select to hire a automotive, RentalCars.com has nice offers. If you’re not renting a automotive, there are many different choices. Taxis, Lyft and Uber can be found all around the metropolis. For a extra funds pleasant possibility, you may take the service bus.

Greatest Excursions in Crystal River Florida: You’ll find a number of the high excursions at Get Your Guide or Viator, and listed below are a number of the high ones. excursions:

Insurance coverage: It’s at all times a good suggestion to journey absolutely insured so you might be protected in case of journey cancellations or medical emergencies. You may take a look at pricing at Travelex Insurance

This submit could include affiliate hyperlinks. In the event you make a purchase order by my hyperlinks, I earn a fee that helps to maintain this weblog working—at no additional price to you. For extra info learn my full disclosure.

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