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Swimming With Manatees

An Experience You’ll Never Forget!

Manatees can be seen in various parts of Florida waters from April to October, but when the temperatures dip, manatees migrate to the Florida Springs where the average water temperature stays around 70 degrees year-round.  This deemed “Manatee Season” runs from November to March annually.  “Sea cows” were placed on the endangered species list in 1966 and continued to be monitored to ensure their survival.  They are most threatened by loss of habitat and boats.

One of the perfect spots to see the manatees year-round is in Crystal River, specifically, Kings Bay, which is about 90 minutes north of Tampa and 100% worth the trip.  Kings Bay sits as the mouth of Crystal River and maintains a near 72 degrees year-round.  Around 400 manatees escape to this year in the winter months so your likelihood to see them is quite good.  Crystal River is also the ONLY place in North America where you can legally swim with manatees.

A few places to check out for tours include:

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

From here, you can access the Visitors’ Center, which is open either 5 or 7 days/week depending on the time of year, and you can catch a shuttle to Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk inside Kings Bay from November to March via land access.  If you’d like to visit via water, there are separate Tour Operators to checkout.

Blue Haven River Tours

Blue Haven offers four boat choices to choose from, snorkel equipment and wet suits so you don’t have to worry about a thing! Blue Heaven River Tours

📷 Crystal River Kayak Co and Dive Center
Crystal River Kayak Company

Crystal River features kayak and diving excursions, including clear kayaks for the ultimate viewing experience!  They are also the closest dock to Three Sisters Springs.  If you’d prefer to bring your own, they allow you to launch from their dock as well for a nominal fee. Crystal River Kayak Company

📷 Get Up and Go Kayaking
Get Up And Go Kayaking – These are guided two hour tours into Kings Bay inside Three Sisters Springs for the “Three Sisters Springs Tour,” which runs April 1st – Nov. 14th. They also feature clear kayaks, or you can bring your own for a nominal fee.  Halfway through the tour, swimming is scheduled in.  Starting Nov. 15- March 31st, their manatee tour will begin and does not allow for the swimming portion.
Paddles Outdoor Rentals

Located also in Crystal River, FL, Paddles has a little something for everyone.  From paddle boards to clear kayaks and guided swim tours, you’ve got a few options to choose from!  They also have a military discount!  https://paddlesoutdoorrentals.com/

For the “Mind Your Manatee Manners” informational videos, including instructions for photographers and videographers, please view the videos on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at: Crystal River Multimedia Manatee Manners Videos

Highlight Rules Include:

Practice Passive Observation

Do not approach resting manatees

Visitors may not enter closed resting sanctuaries for manatees.

Do not disturb vegetation.

Reminder that photographers and videographers must obtain a special permit and obtain an authorized temporary green vest during filming.

If you could choose one way to see the manatees, would it be:

A: Paddle boarding

  1. Clear Kayaking
  2. Larger Boat With All the Goodies
  3. Boardwalk by Land

Let us know in the comments! https://www.resortrentals.us!

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