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Things to do in Crystal River

Our most recommended things to do in Crystal River

Crystal River: Pontoon Boat Cruise and Swim with Manatees

1. Crystal River: Pontoon Boat Cruise and Swim with Manatees

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.

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 Small Group Swim with Manatee Tour

3. Crystal River Small Group Swim with Manatee Tour

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.

Orlando: Manatee Encounter, Snorkeling, and Airboat Ride

4. 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.

Orlando: Manatees Swim, Snorkel and Boat Day Tour

5. Orlando: Manatees Swim, Snorkel and Boat Day Tour

Swim and snorkel with one of the sea's most gentle creatures, the endangered Florida manatee, and take an exhilarating airboat ride. Head to the picturesque Crystal River – home to the endangered “gentle giant of the sea,” the Florida manatee – where you can choose to snorkel or swim. Have a chance to interact with these beautiful creatures if you’re lucky. Have some lunch, and then enjoy a fully-narrated airboat ride. Learn more about this southern state's wildlife from the knowledgeable tour guide.

Orlando: Swim with Manatees and Homosassa State Park Visit

6. 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!

Crystal River: Manatee Swim and Snorkel VIP Tour and Cruise

7. Crystal River: Manatee Swim and Snorkel VIP Tour and Cruise

With no more than 6 people, enjoy intimate and semi-private swimming with the manatees of Crystal River. Fulfill your dream of swimming with Florida's manatees on a VIP swim and snorkel tour. Begin your tour cruising down the Indian River to Crystal River, taking in the scenery and watching out for dolphins, river otters, bald eagles, and other birds that call the area home. As you glide along the water, your guide will go through the guidelines for sharing the water in the safest way for the manatees. When the manatees have been located, it’s time to get in the water. Swim right alongside the curious creatures, watching them face-to-face in their own natural habitat. With an in-water guide swimming with you, your experience will be as relaxed and unforgettable as you’ve always imagined. If there’s time, you’ll also get to swim in Three Sisters Spring, a beautiful nature area with crystal-clear water. Before you leave, don’t forget to grab your manatee-shaped thumb drive with pictures taken by your in-water guide so that you can remember your incredible adventure for years to come. This tour is offered only during the best season for seeing manatees: early mornings in winter. We are a proud member of the Save the Manatee Club Guardian Guide Program, dedicated to protecting the manatees as we swim alongside them and promoting responsible eco-tourism.

Crystal River: Private Drift Diving Tour in Rainbow River

8. Crystal River: Private Drift Diving Tour in Rainbow River

Discover the underwater world of the Rainbow River with a private diving trip from Crystal River. Learn the basics of drift diving on a tour suitable for beginners and advanced divers alike. Swim alongside impressive marine life and explore underground caves with your guide. Meet the guide at the activity base and get ready for your dive in the changing rooms on site. Once you've had a safety briefing, enter the Rainbow River and start drift diving downstream. Pick up the basics and learn diving techniques from your guide. Start exploring the many caverns and bubbling springs along the route, and admire the freshwater fish such as bass, brim, and gar that live in the waters. Immerse yourself in the marine ecosystem with 100 ft. visibility and comfortable temperatures of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crystal River: Private Manatee Cruise

9. 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.

Crystal River: Private River Sightseeing Cruise with a Guide

10. Crystal River: Private River Sightseeing Cruise with a Guide

Best Birding and Viewing the Nature Coast of Florida! The River Cruise departs twice daily and provides a great opportunity for birding and viewing the Nature Coast of Florida. While on the cruise keep your eye out for wild pigs, deer, river otters, dolphins and of course - manatees. There is a wide variety of birds: several types of herons (great blue, blue, green, golden crown night, etc.), egrets, hawks, eagles, osprey, roseate spoonbills, anhingas, cormorants, and more. Explore the beautiful Florida coast!

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What people are saying about Crystal River

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 538 reviews

Irish Dave was our driver, and we had a great time. He took us on a great ride and then we got to ask questions while we floated quietly at the edge of the mangroves by the Gulf. Learned a lot that I had no idea about the region. He was a great captain!!!

Absolutely a life time experience. Dave and Kelly were wonderful and made the day amazing. We highly recommend this while visitng. Thank you! The Bixlers

Everything was great from start to finish. Manatees where cute and fat.

Irish Dave explained everything about the River and gulf, great job.

Lots of fun.Irish Dave excellent. Get price, well worth it