Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge: Our most recommended tours and activities

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

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: Manatee Swim Group Tour

Crystal River: Manatee Swim Group Tour

Voted one of the top 10 World’s “Bucket List” Experiences in 2022, swimming with manatees is something you cannot miss while in Florida. Citrus County is revered as the manatee capital of the world, and swimming with manatees in their natural habitat is a privilege. Coming face to face with a thousand pound gentle giant is an experience unlike any other in the world! During your introduction to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission's "Manatee Manners" video, you'll learn all about manatees and how to behave around them. This ensures that you have a super time snorkeling with these gentle giants while not disturbing any other their natural behaviors. After sliding into wetsuits, your guide will take you on a 5-minute van ride to the dock where you will be greeted by your Master Captain. As you hop aboard a safe, comfortable, and clean US Coast Guard certified vessel, you will to embark on your journey into the Kings Bay refuge waters. Offering information on ecology, history and some silly anecdotes about our area, your crew will offer the best manatee eco-tour in Crystal River, FL. Your captain and guide are very skilled in locating manatees even in the most challenging conditions. When it's time to ease into the water, your guide will give you a snorkel lesson and help get you comfortable in the water. They will be your personal photographer and assistant every step of the way, making your manatee tour safe and memorable. The amount of time you will spend snorkeling in the water with manatees varies greatly as these are wild animals and their behaviour changes by the day and even the hour. If they are not found in the springs areas, you will typically have time to swim into one of the springs after the manatee portion of your tour. At the end of the tour, your guide will bring you back to the shop where you can view their pictures and videos and decide if you'd like to purchase them.

Crystal River: Manatee Viewing Cruise

Crystal River: Manatee Viewing Cruise

Hop aboard a US Coast Guard-certified vessel and join your captain for a journey into the tranquil waters of Kings Bay, a refuge for manatees. Discover authentic Florida scenery and gaze at these gentle giants as you navigate in Crystal River, Florida. Allow your captain to help you find manatees during any season of the year. Capture the picturesque scenery and diverse wildlife that call this refuge home, including a variety of bird species, turtles, and the occasional dolphins. While cruising and exploring the region, learn all about the history of Kings Bay, the biology and ecology of manatees, and interesting facts about other creatures that live alongside them.

Crystal River: Kayak Rental

Crystal River: Kayak Rental

Explore Crystal River with your own kayak rental, with a variety of rental durations available. Follow the map to King's Bay and search for a variety of native wildlife species as you discover the area at your own pace. 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. From there, head to the launch dock where you will get a short introduction to your equipment and how to paddle your kayak. Start your adventure in the water by getting comfortable with your kayak while paddling through the waterways that lead to King's Bay and the Crystal River. Follow the map toward your preferred location 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 take plenty of wonderful photos.

River Cruise with Manatee Viewing

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.

Crystal River Manatee Snorkeling Tour- 8 Guests To A Boat

Crystal River Manatee Snorkeling Tour- 8 Guests To A Boat

Our Manatee snorkeling tour is 3 hours in total, with 1 hour of prepwork and 2 on the water. The first hour is prepwork, including our manatee education class and Eco Walkthrough. After the video a Guide will instruct a snorkeling breifing before getting everyone fitted in their wetsuits and shuttled down to the dock to meet their Captain. Once on the Boat, the Captain will take everyone on King's Bay to locate a manatee to snorkel with. Guests not only get the once in a lifetime experience of snorkeling with manatees in their natural habitat, but also get to see the beauty of Kings Bay and the other wildlife in it. This tour is a wildlife experience, meaning every trip is different.

Top Attractions in Crystal River

Things to Do in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Cities in United States

Other Sightseeing Options in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Want to discover all there is to do in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge? Click here for a full list.