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Manatee Encounters

Swimming adventures with amazing creatures.


Compliments of Lee Island Coast CVB
The manatee is a blimp-like creature that frequents the warm waters off the Florida coast. It is also sometimes called a sea cow, referring to its habit of feeding in herds in watery pastures. It is thought to have evolved millions of years ago from a plant-eating mammal.

As an endangered species, the manatee is protected by state and federal laws that actually prohibit contact. However there are manatee tours that allow close observation within certain guidelines.

December to March is the best time to find and observe these gentle giants as they seek the warm headwaters of rivers near power plants.

Aqua Marine Images
Crystal River

Imagine the photo opportunity of a lifetime... a picture or video of you getting up close to a manatee! It is an experience you will likely never forget.

This is a combination boat/snorkeling tour. You must have an ability to swim and a respect for these gentle giants. Although the springs of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge feel warm to the manatees, the 72 degree water requires a wet suit.

Capt. Larry Campbell offers manatee snorkel tours throughout the year by reservation only. Tours begin at $27.50 and equipment charges are additional.

Cyrstal River Divers
Crystal River

If you scuba dive, there is no better way to explore the sparkling water of Crystal River and the underwater world of the manatee. If you don't scuba dive, you can snorkel the glassy shallows of Crystal River, or take an hour-long boat ride where you may still see a manatee.

Dives and snorkeling begin at $25 per person plus equipment rental with a three-person minimum. The boat ride is $10 with a five-person minimum.

Crystal River Divers also offers scuba diving certification and discovery courses. Call 352-795-5797 or toll-free 1-800-632-6262 for reservations or more information.

Riversport Custom Adventure Kayaking
Kings Bay, Crystal River

Kings Bay is one of the most heavily populated manatee sanctuaries in the world. Kayaking on Kings Bay offers a chance to study these gentle giants in a unique marine environment quite unlike any other in the continental United States. Call 352-621-4972 or toll-free 1-877-660-0929 for more information.

Sunshine River Tours

Guided manatee snorkel tours are offered $30 per person which includes mask, fins, and snorkel. Wetsuit rental is $10. Reservations are required.

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