RFA’s Complete Guide to the Crystal River Manatees

Florida’s incredible range of experiences attracts visitors from around the world! And snorkelling with manatees at Crystal River is one of the most unique adventures the Sunshine State has to offer.

But how can enjoy this experience on your own Florida holiday? What do you need to prepare? Where is Crystal River?

Fear not! This comprehensive guide to the Crystal River manatees is here to help you make the most of your incredible encounter with these gentle giants.

Manatee snorkelling at Crystal River is one of our many Florida tours from Orlando, so we’re perfectly placed to share our local insights.

For more information about any of our excursions in Florida, please contact us. But for now, let’s dive in!

The Purpose of this Guide to the Manatees at Crystal River

Picture this guide as your one-stop resource for everything you need to know before visiting the manatee’s kingdom at Crystal River.

But we’re not just here to offer information; we’re here to fuel your excitement, answer your questions, and empower you to be a responsible and respectful guest in the manatees’ home.

If we haven’t answered a question you have here, it’s almost certain we can still help you, so don’t hesitate to contact us for the answers you need.

The Difference When Visiting Crystal River with Real Florida Adventures

When you choose Real Florida Adventures, you’re not just signing up for a tour — you’re choosing an immersive experience.

Our team of local experts is dedicated to providing you with insider knowledge, personal attention, and a genuine passion for adventures with conservation in mind.

We hope this guide inspires you to snorkel with the manatees at Crystal River with us, Florida’s top-rated tour company!

Where are the Best Places to See the Manatees in Florida?

In case you haven’t guessed yet, it’s Crystal River! This incredible place is known as the manatee capital of the world for a reason.

It’s also the only location in the United States where you can legally swim with manatees.

And for a truly one-of-a-kind experience, we also offer private manatee tours in Crystal River!

Where is Crystal River, Florida?

Tucked away on Florida’s enchanting Gulf Coast, Crystal River is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

This small coastal city in Citrus County is located around 80 miles northwest of Orlando, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway for those seeking a unique adventure.

Getting out to Crystal River is a breeze with Real Florida Adventures. We provide roundtrip transportation in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle from International Drive, Disney, and Kissimmee.

What Makes the Crystal River Habitat So Special?

Crystal River isn’t just a destination; it’s an aquatic ecosystem teeming with life and beauty.

The city itself sits on Kings Bay. Crystal River, the river the city shares its name with, links the inland Kings Bay with the coastal Crystal Bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond.

This creates the Crystal River/Kings Bay system, one of Florida’s most complex and unique natural resources.

The Crystal River Springs group, a remarkable network of more than 30 springs, is the system’s water source. On average, these springs discharge over 975 cubic feet of fresh water per second into King’s Bay.

And the water discharged is warm, with a steady temperature of around 72°F to 74°F (around 23 °C).

When temperatures out in the Gulf of Mexico drop in the winter, this warm water attracts hundreds of West Indian manatees.

While the winter manatee population is typically around 500 to 1,000, up to 100 manatees live here through the warmer summer months too, so they are a year-round presence.

This spring system is vital to the survival of manatees. In fact, The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only such refuge in the US dedicated to the protection and preservation of one species.

Read our tips for snorkelling with manatees in Crystal River, Florida for even more pre-adventure advice!

Let Us Introduce You to Crystal River’s Manatees

Get to know your adorable hosts! From their round bodies to their curious communication, manatees are sure to steal your heart.

Belonging to the group of mammals known as Sirenia, or sea cows, the West Indian manatee is herbivorous, feeding primarily on seagrass.

West Indian manatees are divided into two subspecies:

  • The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
  • The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus)

Our manatee snorkelling tours at Crystal River are as much about education as they are about adventure, so you’ll learn plenty about these incredible animals on the day of your tour.

But as an introduction, some of our favourite manatee facts include:

  • West Indian manatees can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds (544 kg)
  • These animals can spend around 10 to 12 hours sleeping every day
  • Manatees consume up to 15% of their body weight in seagrass and other vegetation
  • The average swimming speed of a manatee is between three and five miles per hour
  • Manatees can hold their breath for 20 minutes, but they tend to surface much more often
  • Manatees migrate to warm water because exposure to temperatures than 68°F can kill them

When you visit Crystal River with RFA, you can witness firsthand how manatees communicate and interact with each other, including the clicks, chirps, and whistles that make up their unique language.

The Dos and Don'ts When Snorkeling with Manatees at Crystal River

Respect is the name of the game when it comes to snorkelling with manatees! Before you take the plunge, we’ll share tips on how to approach these incredible creatures while ensuring their safety and comfort.

But there’s one golden rule you must know above all others: “Look, but don’t touch.”

Not only are the manatees at Crystal River wild animals, but they’re also listed as “vulnerable to extinction.”

So, please admire these majestic creatures from a respectful distance. And don’t feed them any of your human food, they’re perfectly happy and healthy with their seagrass!

Manatees also appreciate a calm and peaceful environment, so you should also keep noise to a minimum.

Keep in mind that you’re a guest in the manatees’ habitat and you won’t go wrong!

How to Prepare for Your Trip to Crystal River

When you join a Real Florida Adventures tour to Crystal River, we recommend bringing:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Insect Repellent
  • A Camera
  • Proof of Confirmation

At Real Florida Adventures, we include a mask and snorkel as part of your tour. However, all swimmers at Crystal River must wear a wetsuit. You can hire yours before boat departure for an additional fee.

Our tours also include a packed lunch, but not additional snacks or drinks. We recommend bringing small tasty bites in case you get hungry and plenty of water or other drinks to keep you hydrated.

What Else Can You Do Around Crystal River?

Your Crystal River experience with Real Florida Adventures doesn’t end with the manatees!

Come with us to explore the wonders of Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, a true hidden gem of Florida’s nature!

Immediately south of Crystal River, this park is packed with a diverse range of wildlife.

From Florida panthers, bobcats, and alligators to black bears and red wolves, there are so many rare and unusual animals to see here!

And this extends to a remarkable number of species, including flamingos and whooping cranes.

And this extends to a remarkable number of species, including flamingos and whooping cranes.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is also home to Nature’s Fish Bowl, a floating underwater observatory sat over a natural spring.

Thousands of fish hang out here, so it’s a kaleidoscope of colour!

And we top it all off, we then inland to the Withlacoochee River for an exhilarating airboat ride.

Moving at speeds of 45mph, this is the perfect way to end an adventure-packed day you’ll never forget.

How to Choose a Manatee Tour in Florida? Come to Real Florida Adventures!

We hope this complete guide to the Crystal River Manatees has inspired you to come and meet these wonderful creatures.

If you’re ready to book or would like to read more about our day tour, head to the snorkelling with manatees at Crystal River page.

And we’d love to help you make even more memories while you’re in the Sunshine State, so why not check out our full range of Florida tours from Orlando?

If you have questions about any of our Florida tours, please feel free to get in touch.