Our most recommended things to do in Crystal River

Crystal River: Clear Kayak Manatee Ecotour

1. Crystal River: Clear Kayak Manatee Ecotour

Enjoy the Manatee Capital of the World and experience these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Follow your trusty and experienced guide as they introduce you to various wildlife on an eco-friendly tour. Start your day by arriving at the local shop. Check in for your tour and watch a short video (required by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). Learn about the gentle giants and how to have a safe and respectful interaction with them. Head to the launch pad where you will board your clear kayak to begin your tour. Follow your local guide as he takes you to the best spots to discover the diverse wildlife of the region where you commonly see manatees, turtles, various birds, dolphins, and many species of fish. Journey through some of the most beautiful waterways in Florida and utilise the clear kayaks to give you the best viewing possible without getting wet.

Homosassa: Gulf of Mexico Airboat Ride and Dolphin Watching

2. Homosassa: Gulf of Mexico Airboat Ride and Dolphin Watching

Glide through the saltwater marshes and shallow waters of the Homosassa River and Gulf of Mexico aboard a powerful airboat. Look for bottlenose dolphins and other wildlife in their natural habitat to reconnect with nature. Feel the speed beneath you as you twist and turn through the mangroves, canals, and backwaters. Access areas that other boats can't reach and encounter abundant wildlife off the beaten path. Marvel as your US Coast Guard Captain and guide safely pilots the boat at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Get an adrenaline rush as you traverse the waterways and soak up the natural beauty on all sides. Every day is different when it comes to the wildlife, but a morning ride is highly recommended if you hope to encounter animals in the wild. The diverse birdlife will truly amaze you, while West Indian manatees can sometimes be seen on a good day.

Crystal River: VIP Manatee Swim w/ In-water Photographer

3. Crystal River: VIP Manatee Swim w/ In-water Photographer

Swim with manatees in the spring-fed King’s Bay Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River, home to the world’s largest population of the endangered creatures during the winter. Encounter these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Benefit from the services of a Coast Guard certified captain and in-water educator and photographer. Learn about the animals in a classroom-type setting and get tips to make the most of your day. Hear about passive interaction to make sure that the animals enjoy the experience just as much as you do! Then, suit up and board a covered pontoon boat to immerse yourself in the manatees' world. Be treated like royalty aboard the boat and see the wildlife refuge in style. Return to the facility at the end of your adventure and visit the one-of-a-kind gift shop! Hear about other local attractions and restaurants, and get answers to any questions you may have before you depart.

Crystal River: Manatee Snorkel Tour w/ In-Water Photographer

4. Crystal River: Manatee Snorkel Tour w/ In-Water Photographer

Get back to nature and discover the home of the world’s largest population of endangered manatees in the winter on a pontoon boat tour to Three Sisters Springs. Get the chance to interact with the curious, gentle giants in their natural habitat.  Learn all about the animals in a classroom-type setting and get tips for your snorkel tour to make the most of your day. Hear about "passive interaction" that ensures that the animals enjoy the experience just as much as you do. Then, journey to the estuary with a Coast Guard captain aboard a covered pontoon boat. Get your snorkeling gear on, marvel at the wildlife around you, and get up close to the sea cows as they move slowly through the water. Head back to base camp to visit the one-of-a-kind gift shop and purchase unique souvenirs. Get tips on what to do in the Kings Bay area, along with directions from the well-informed staff to other local attractions and restaurants.

Crystal River: Private Manatee Cruise

5. Crystal River: Private Manatee Cruise

On this unique cruise through Florida's coastal wetlands, enjoy the special opportunity to experience swimming with manatees. Float along the Indian River and admire the local flora and fauna. At King's Bay, hop in the water and marvel at the gentle, playful manatees. Begin your tour at the marina of Crystal River, where you'll be fitted for wetsuits and swimming gear. Before you set out, watch a short video about "Manatee Manners" to ensure you interact respectfully with these magnificent creatures. Then, meet your captain and guide to get started. Set out from Crystal River's marina and begin the cruise down the Indian River. Along the way, you'll pass the Archaeological Park, Indian mounds, and St. Martin's Aquatic Preserve. Above you, keep an eye out for local birds, including egrets, herons, ospreys, and even golden eagles. Continue your tour along the Indian River as you watch for animal life on the riverbank and in the water. While you cruise, you may encounter river otters, wild pigs, deer, alligators, and dolphins as you near King's Bay. Here, watch the water's surface for manatees coming up for air. Next, once your captain and guide have selected a safe area near the manatees for you to swim, don your swimming gear and enter the water. In accordance with conservation standards, passive observation is encouraged. As you float, watch the manatees swimming, resting, and playing. While in the water, marvel at the manatees' large size, the nails on their flippers, and their prehensile lips as they eat. Some manatees may continue sleeping or eating; others may leave. Curious manatees may approach you for a closer encounter. After you've watched the manatees, head over to the clear, warm waters of Jurassic, House, or the Three Sisters Springs and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Once you're finished swimming, change into a dry set of clothes for the return journey on the river and keep an eye out for more wildlife.

Orlando: Manatee Encounter, Snorkeling, and Airboat Ride

6. Orlando: Manatee Encounter, Snorkeling, and Airboat Ride

Snorkel thorugh marine life in the Crystal Rive on this day trip from Orlando. Ride in a comfortable and airconditioned bus to Homosassa Springs State Park for a guided visit. Find out about manatees and go for an airboat ride on the Withlacoochee River. In the morning, head out to the beautiful Crystal River area to start your snorkeling adventure. Explore the river and admire unique wildlife in its natural habitat. Learn about the magnificent manatee and have the opportunity to see them up close. Next is a guided visit to the Homosassa Springs State Park. Discover local wildlife, including the endangered Florida panther, black bears, red wolves, bobcats, alligators, and more. Learn about the park’s manatee rehabilitation program and stop at an underwater observatory built over the mouth of a spring. Enjoy a packed lunch before heading to the Withlacoochee River, to end your day with an exciting airboat ride. Ride through this area which is another natural haven, where you can see more local wildlife. Feel the thrill of skimming over the water with an exhilarating trip in a flat-bottomed boat.

Crystal River: Paddle Board Rental

7. Crystal River: Paddle Board Rental

Check-in at the shop 30 minutes prior to your reservation time to watch a short video (required by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) and sign some waivers before heading to the water. From there, transport yourself 0.7 miles to the launch dock where you will get a short introduction to your equipment and how to paddle your board. Start your adventure in the water by getting comfortable with your board while paddling through the waterways that lead to King's Bay and the Crystal River. Follow the map (included with your rental) toward your favorite natural springs as you look for manatees, dolphins, turtles, fish, birds, and other wildlife. Enjoy nature, the sun, the fresh air, and the calm waters of Crystal River. When arriving at the natural springs, such as the Three Sister Springs, take advantage of the beautiful clear waters to get lots of pictures and boost your Instagram posts.

Crystal River: Snorkel with Manatees & Dolphin Airboat Trip

8. Crystal River: Snorkel with Manatees & Dolphin Airboat Trip

If you’re looking for a full day of adventure, this is the plan for you — if you’re coming to Crystal River for the manatees, then why not stay on for an airboat tour on the beautiful Homosassa river? This tour takes care of all the details from start to finish for you.   Your first experience of the day is a 3-hour manatee swim at Crystal River. Embark on your journey with a Coast Guard Certified Master Captain who will be your in-water chaperone, educator, and photographer. First, in a classroom-style setting, get snorkeling tips and learn the ins and outs of “passive interaction”, which will ensure the manatees enjoy the experience as much as you do.   When you finally get in the water, submerge yourself in the manatee’s world. This rich estuary will amaze you — fish, birds, and wildlife are all around. Finish your adventure by viewing your Captain’s photos back at the facility and visit the gift-shop.   Then, located only a 15-minute drive south of Crystal River, jump on an airboat tour to explore the mangroves, canals, and backwaters of Homosassa. Brace yourself as the speedboat explodes beneath you, and keep your eyes peeled on the horizon — sometimes dolphins surprise you as they play and frolic in the area. Hold on to your hat and find your adventure seeker amid the birds, dolphins, and fish.   For families and thrill-seekers alike, exploring the backwater salt-marshes where other boats can’t go delivers a pure Florida experience that’ll take your breath away.

Orlando: Swim with Manatees and Homosassa State Park Visit

9. Orlando: Swim with Manatees and Homosassa State Park Visit

The gentle manatees of the Crystal River await your arrival on this delightful day-long tour where you can swim with these curious creatures. Your day will begin with complimentary pickup from one of the key meeting points in Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista and Disney. You will then be whisked away to the picturesque Crystal River. Crystal River is home to the curious and endangered manatee. Also known as Sea Cows, these creatures are most definitely the gentle giants of the marine world. Here you have the chance to snorkel or swim in the clear blue waters. Manatees are curious creatures and will often come to greet those who choose to snorkel or swim. They may even roll over to be tickled! Those who prefer to stay above water may wish to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. After lunch at your own expense, you will visit the beautiful Homosassa State Park, one of Florida’s best kept secrets. There, enjoy the chance to see many of Florida’s endangered species, such as the state panther, and watch the manatees again from an underwater viewing chamber. Fun, relaxed and light-hearted, this day-long tour and swim with the manatees is the perfect tour choice for the whole family!

River Cruise with Manatee Viewing

10. River Cruise with Manatee Viewing

With so much wildlife to enjoy, the Nature Coast beckons you to explore! Our Eco-tour will enlighten the wildlife enthusiast, amateur photographer, birdwatcher and every individual in between! Grab your binoculars and join us for an eco-journey to take in the sparkling springs, the calming river, and the inviting Gulf of Mexico on a certified vessel that is safe and comfortable. You never know what will be discovered on this wildlife odyssey, as this area serves as one of the richest estuaries left on the Gulf of Mexico! Kings Bay is the second largest spring system in Florida, which is fed by dozens of fresh water springs spitting out more than 280 million gallons of fresh water daily! The bay serves as the head waters for the Crystal River and is extremely unique and incredibly important to each animal species that depend on it for survival. We strive to educate and open all hearts to the necessity of protection. Wading birds, waterfowl, black crowned night herons, wood storks, bald eagles, brown and white pelicans, osprey, red-tailed hawks, and of course the endangered manatee are just some of many animals that depend on this ecosystem to sustain themselves! On this Eco-tour, your Captain and Mother Nature will team up to ensure the most unforgettable, awe-inspiring time possible! Enjoy the sparkling springs of Crystal River’s idyllic King’s Bay. Learn about the ecosystem and the animals that depend on the refuge for their survival. If you are lucky we may even encounter manatee, dolphins, eagles, osprey, tarpon or alligator in the best way possible -- their natural habitat.

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Crystal River

Crystal River
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What people are saying about Crystal River

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 586 reviews

This was amazing!! First time to Florida on our honeymoon and we just showed up with our tickets and paid for parking and they took care of the rest! We had Luiz as a guide and he was knowledgeable and funny and made the trip great! Our manatee instructors were Gina and Andrew and they were fabulous! We saw lots of manatees (at least 10) and got to swim with them! The only suggestion I have is to bring some $5’s, $10’s, $20’s for tips! And a warm change of clothes if it’s chilly! Our trip was about 8.5 hours total (8am-4:30pm) but time varies I think! Would definitely do it again!!!

Words can not describe how amazing this one in a life time experience this was. The friend hospitality with your team, and the knowledge they provided to all guests. We tell all our friends and family about it.

We saw so many manatees and faith and troy were excellent guides. I would highly recommend the private tour. Well worth it. Great family memories

Staff was so kind and friendly. It was amazing and will do again!

Our guide was great the ride was fun and very informative.