There's A Place In Florida Where You Can Swim With Manatees
Beautiful year-round climate and vast landscape leave a sea of options to fish from scattered throughout the Sunshine State for your next adventure. Sometimes we just want to disconnect from daily life and do something a bit more wild. In Crystal River Florida, you can get cuddly close swimming with adorable manatees.
In Crystal River, their surrounding springs are known to attract tons of manatees during certain times of the year because of the temperature of the water. Florida's springs stay a comfortable temperature all year round, which is why they come to our springs to search for food and regulate their body temperatures. In the summer months, they'll head out of the springs and to warmer bodies of water like King's Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
If you're not quite sure where to look for the manatees yourself, the area offers a lot of different options for a guide to take you out in the water. The two most popular dive companies are Fun2Dive and Bird's Underwater Dive Center.
Fun2Dive in Crystal River Florida is just one of the options that can help you get up close and personal with the manatees all while observing them as you float leisurely alongside them. You're free to bring your own equipment, although they will document the experience with around 50-100 photos by the end of your 3-hour float, which can then be viewed and purchased after your trip.
They provide all the required equipment on their tours at no additional cost, you just pay for the cost of the tour. For the most popular package, a Classic Manatee Swim will run you $59.99 per person. They also offer other package options, like a Sunset visit when the bay is quieter for $64.95, or a semi-private visit in a smaller group size of 6 for $69.95.
You will have a guide with you both on land, and in the sea. Before you can get in the water though, you'll have to show up to the facility to learn about respecting the environment and safety. Their facility is located at 135 NE 3rd St. Crystal River, Florida 34429.
If you decide to go with Bird's, the prices are pretty comparable to Fun2Dive's. They also include all of the gear you need for your experience - plus snacks. Their standard public manatee swim will run you about the same for $59.95 up to $65 during peak manatee season from November through April.
If you have a group of friends you want to go on this adventure with, Bird's also have a private tour for $449 for a boat that seats 6. If you have more friends, they can arrange for a larger tour but do charge an additional $75 per person. Bird's will also throw in a 10% discount if your group is 10 or larger.
Bird's Underwater boast that they are right on the water, so no need to travel to a public access boat launch. Bird's Captains also have certifications - All have a US Coast Guard Masters License, and many are SDI Dive Masters.
Fun2Dive and Bird's Underwater just 2 of the dive companies in the area. We highly recommend looking at all the options that are available, since the one that best fits your needs will be determined by what kind of experience you're looking for, and cost may change when you consider larger groups.
Whoever you decide to go with, they both offer an amazing and memorable experience and know just where to go to see the most manatees. The manatees are not always so keen to approach you, but they do usually come up and say hi - it's like getting a chance to take a selfie with a big sea puppy:
If you're looking to take an adventure on your own without a tour guide, you can also observe manatees unassisted in many of the surrounding springs in the area.
Three Sister's Springs in Crystal River Florida is a spot well known for manatee sightings and experiences. They offer tips on how to see one in your next time out on their visitor's website, including information on how to navigate to the springs, and links to information on how to 'mind your manatee manners' when observing in the wild.
To learn more about diving tours, you can check out Fun2Dive and Bird's Underwater Dive Center. For those wanting to stay dry, information on how to visit the boardwalk to just watch the manatees from the land can be seen here.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.