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



The pristine waters and unspoiled forests of Crystal River in Florida are one of the crucial outstanding sights you’ll be able to see right here. Nevertheless, it’s not simply the attractive environment that make folks 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 in droves in the course of the winter season for its heat waters. In fact, this opens up the prospect to see and work together with them.

In fact, this opens up the prospect for some epic bucket record 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 actually a sight to behold. Often known as ‘sea cows,’ these aquatic herbivores are recognized for his or her stubby noses, giant bulk, and delicate (and sometimes curious) nature.

They will 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 just like seals or walruses, they’re, in actual fact, extra carefully 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, because of habitat loss and hunters, the manatee inhabitants are at a state of decline. Thankfully, ongoing conservation efforts and strict guidelines and tips are being carried out 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

Many 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 ‘Dwelling of the Manatee’). Among the greatest spots embrace Three Sisters Spring (at Crystal River), Blue Spring State Park, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Wildlife Refuge and the Manatee Remark and Training Middle.

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

It’s also possible to take a look at an inventory of those state parks and facilities on the Florida FWC web site.

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 comprise 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. It’s also possible to discover one of many nature trails and see the three springs in all their pure magnificence.

Three Sisters Springs

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

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


Kayaking with Crystal River Manatees

Interactions with Florida manatees might sound 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 manner to take action.

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

You will discover loads of outfitters like Paddle Outside Leases 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! Just some 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 a wide range of animals, together with manatees, alligators, black bears, many species of birds, a 62-year-old hippo named Lu, and plenty of extra.

You may take a ship or tram tour by way of the park to see the animals of their pure habitats, with a number of instructional reveals and reveals that spotlight the park’s inhabitants. One other spotlight is the Fish Bowl Underwater Observatory, the place you’ll be able to see the aquatic animals up shut of their pure habitat. There’s additionally a number 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 natural world alongside the best way.


Annette at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park


Swimming with the Manatees in Crystal River

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

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

This can be a surreal expertise, the place manatees shall 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 by 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 soar proper in, you’ll first must be taught a set of ‘manatee manners’ which must 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 probably the most out of this excellent expertise.

Among the greatest ideas when swimming with manatees embrace:

  • Hold your distance and by no means contact or provoke contact until the manatees come to you first (which these curious creatures usually do, particularly should you’re floating gently). In the event that they achieve this, you might gently contact them with one hand on the again or abdomen. Some would possibly even ask for stomach rubs!
  • Pay attention to your environment – keep away from getting near off-limit areas (marked with floating warning indicators) or from resting/feeding manatees.
  • Hold calm – don’t make any loud noises or huge/sudden actions, as it’s going to 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 all the time the prospect to see a manatee or two any day of the yr, the very best 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.

In fact, this annual migration additionally attracts in tons 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 really a one-of-a-kind expertise, and I can’t blame you should you really feel like spending simply sooner or later with them just isn’t sufficient (which is normally the case!). Good factor is that there are many lodging out there within the space like the place you’ll be able to 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 basic 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 certain to be left entertained, pampered, and energized in 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 top-of-the-line wildlife experiences to test off your bucket record. 

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

Greatest Suggestions for Visiting Crystal River Florida

Getting There: Tampa Worldwide Airport is a significant hub and most airways will fly into it. You may simply test for the very best fare offers at Skyscanner, which additionally has the choice to decide on ‘least expensive month’ because the departure to search out the bottom priced dates to fly to your vacation spot. From the airport to town middle, you’ll be able to take shuttle service, bus service, taxi and ride-hailing providers or lease a automobile.

The place to Keep in Crystal River Florida: It’s greatest to remain close to town middle, public transportation or the realm that you’ll be spending probably the most time in. Moreover the The Plantation on Crystal River talked about above there are many different choices for motels. Vacation Inn Categorical Crystal River is a superb alternative within the Crystal River. For one thing on the inexpensive facet, attempt Nature Coast Inn & Cottages positioned in Inglis. For a lodge with somewhat extra extravagance, ebook a room on the Hampton Inn Crystal River. Or search some nice offers on motels of your alternative at Reserving.com. Should you’re searching for extra of a house environment (or are touring with a gaggle of individuals), head over to Airbnb that has homes, residences and even only a room for lease in each value vary. 

Getting Round: Driving in a brand new vacation spot could be a little bit of a problem, however should you select to lease a automobile, RentalCars.com has nice offers. In case you are not renting a automobile, there are many different choices. Taxis, Lyft and Uber can be found all around the metropolis. For a extra finances pleasant possibility, you’ll be able to take the service bus.

Greatest Excursions in Crystal River Florida: You will discover among the prime excursions at Get Your Information or Viator, and listed here are among the prime ones. excursions:

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

This put up might comprise affiliate hyperlinks. Should you make a purchase order by way of my hyperlinks, I earn a fee that helps to maintain this weblog operating—at no additional value to you. For extra info learn my full disclosure.

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