If you’ve travelled all the way to Florida, you will want to make sure you enjoy as many unique experiences as possible while here.
There are countless incredible things to see and do in the Sunshine State, but one of the most unusual has to be manatee snorkelling at Crystal River!
The good news is, this is one of our many Florida tours in and from Orlando!
As your gateway to an encounter with these gentle giants, we’re perfectly placed to provide the local insights you need to ensure you have the best possible time.
Scroll down to read our tips for snorkelling with manatees in Crystal River, Florida.
And if any questions come to mind while you read, please feel free to contact us for the answers you need.
What Exactly is Snorkelling with Manatees in Crystal River?
It’s exactly what it sounds like — but also so much more than that.
Firstly, Crystal River is on West Florida’s incredible “Nature Coast”. And as the name suggests, the water here is crystal clear. The visibility you can enjoy when snorkelling is startling.
And that’s great news, because when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops, a herd of manatees heads inland toward three first-magnitude spring systems.
These springs have a constant temperature of between 72°F and 74°F (around 23° C).
Approximately 500 to 1,000 manatees make this migration every winter, and as many as 100 stay for the entire year.
Crystal River is one of the only places in the world where you can enjoy a magical encounter with majestic manatees in their natural habitat.
This is an adventure that you simply cannot miss when in Florida! Read our previous guide What Shouldn’t I Miss on a Holiday in Florida? for even must-do and must-see activities!
Tip 1: Choose Your Tour Operator Wisely
Your manatee snorkelling experience begins with selecting the right tour operator.
At Real Florida Adventures, we take pride in offering a responsible and ethical encounter with these marine marvels.
On our manatee snorkelling tour at Crystal River, you enjoy a safe and educational experience under the supervision of a Coast Guard-certified captain.
We are committed to providing an ethical and sustainable tour, and all while respecting manatee behaviours and the precious ecosystem in which they live.
With Real Florida Adventures, you can enjoy this remarkable natural adventure with complete peace of mind and a clear conscience.
Tip 2: Dress to Impress… And to Stay Warm and Comfortable!
The waters of Crystal River might be a tad chilly, especially during winter, when manatee interactions are most common.
But fear not! All you need is a snug-fitting wetsuit to keep you warm — and make you feel like an aquatic explorer!
On our own Crystal River manatee snorkelling tour, anyone who wants to swim must hire a wetsuit before the boat departs.
Wetsuit rental is an additional expense, but snorkelling equipment is provided for free.
Tip 3: Be Cool, Calm, and Collected
Manatees appreciate tranquillity, just like you after a long day of adventures in Florida!
Approach them slowly and calmly, avoiding sudden movements or excessive splashing.
Allow them to initiate the interaction. Their curious nature might just lead them to glide right up to you!
If exploring in Crystal River’s stunning water inspires you to take on similar adventures, check out our recommendations for the best beaches in Florida for snorkelling.
Tip 4: Marvelous Manatee Etiquette
Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Crystal River will no doubt get your adrenaline pumping. But it’s important not to get carried away and behave recklessly.
As you mingle with the manatees, remember the golden rule: “Look, but don’t touch.”
These gentle giants are wild creatures, and we want to ensure their well-being and comfort.
Admire their elegance from a respectful distance, and enjoy an experience you will remember for all the right reasons!
Looking for even more travel inspiration? Read our picks for 25 of the best Florida day trips.
Tip 5: Silence is Golden
“Shhh!”… the universal language of showing respect. Keep the underwater environment serene by minimizing noise.
Manatees appreciate the peaceful harmony of their underwater realm. Let your presence be a welcome addition, not a disturbance.
Tip 6: Nix the Noshing
Manatees have a specific diet, so any offerings you may have won’t hit the spot.
Resist the urge to share your snacks; instead, observe their natural behaviour as they munch on aquatic vegetation.
It’s a unique culinary experience that’s best enjoyed by these vegetarian connoisseurs alone.
Are you still unsure when to book your holiday in the Sunshine State? Our previous guide What is the Best Time to Visit Florida Weather-Wise? is packed with useful information on the topic.
Tip 7: Captain’s Orders – Listen Up!
Captain’s orders are law when sailing the high seas – or in this case, the serene waters of Crystal River.
When on our tour, you must follow instructions from the captain of your boat. They’re not only skilled navigators but also a fountain of knowledge on all things manatee.
Following their guidance ensures a safe experience and a harmonious coexistence with these enchanting creatures.
Tip 8: Conservation is Key
As responsible travellers, let’s leave no trace of our underwater escapades. Be mindful of your surroundings, avoiding contact with underwater flora and fauna.
It’s a small effort that leaves a big impact on preserving this aquatic wonderland for future generations.
Tip 9: Shutterbugs, Keep it Stealthy
We all love capturing moments to reminisce about later, but flashy photography is a no-go.
Manatees aren’t fans of the paparazzi, so switch off your camera flash to ensure you don’t interrupt their serenity.
Trust us, your photos will be just as breathtaking without the dazzling effects.
Our guide to the dos and don’ts when visiting Florida has even more helpful advice from the locals at Real Florida Adventures.
Tip 10: Patience Pays Off
Mother Nature’s timing isn’t always synchronized with ours.
Keep in mind that Crystal River is a wild setting, so we can’t 100% guarantee where the manatees will be and when.
However, the captain of the tour boat uses years of experience to significantly increase the chances of finding these amazing animals.
But remember, the beauty of Crystal River doesn’t depend solely on these gentle giants.
Embrace the opportunity to explore the stunning underwater landscapes and other marine life that call this sanctuary home.
Enjoy Snorkelling with Manatees in Crystal River with Real Florida Adventures!
Now you’ve read our tips for snorkelling with manatees in Crystal River, Florida, it’s time to experience the real thing!
Check out our manatee snorkelling tour at Crystal River for more information and to make your booking.
If you have any questions about this tour, or any of our other Florida tours in and from Orlando, please just get in touch.