Semi-Private or Private VIP Manatee Tour - Blue Water Deluxe (4 hr Heated) - Homosassa
- Duration: 4 Hours (approx.)
- Location: Homosassa, Florida
- Product code: SemiPVTVIPHomosasa
Enjoy the unique privilege that is exclusively ours here in Citrus County Florida by swimming with the manatees in the spring-fed Homosassa River! Citrus County is home to the world’s largest population of the protected manatee during the winter season, and the 'Blue Waters' of the Homosassa Spring offer an awesome opportunity for viewing. Having the chance to encounter these curious, gentle giants in their natural habitat is an adventure that your family will never forget!
Embark on your journey with a Coast Guard Certified Master Captain and an in-water chaperone, educator and photographer. Your tour will run four hours from start to finish and everything you will need is included for one price. You will begin at our full-service tour facility, where we suit you up in wet suits and introduce you to your guides. On board your vessel, while headed to the springs we ensure you understand the rules of engagement, watch an instructional video and receive tips for your snorkel tour to make the most of your day. You will be taught the in’s and out’s of ‘passive interaction’ as this ensures that the animals enjoy the experience as much as we do! This rich estuary will amaze…..birds, fish and wildlife abound! Submerge yourself in the manatee’s world! Finish your adventure by viewing your guide’s photos back at our facility and be sure to visit our one-of-a-kind gift shop! Our well-informed staff will direct to other local attractions, restaurants and answer all of your questions before you are on your way.
We guarantee that after you meet our friendly gentle-giants you will never be the same! You will never forget your adventures here in Homosassa, and chances are - we will see you again!
Be treated like royalty on our Luxury Pontoon and see the River in style! This semi-private pontoon seats up to six and offers you a comfortable, more personalized 4 hour excursion! The heat may not get to the temperature of your living room, but it takes the chill off and that definitely helps everyone have a great time!
- Snacks, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, water
- In water tour guide and photographer provided at no extra charge
- Maximum capacity of 6 people
- Fully enclosed and heated during the winter months
- Mask, snorkel, wetsuit all included
- Photo package available at the end of your tour for an additional charge
- Departing from River Safaris - Homosassa
- 3 paid participants needed to run this tour
Available 7 days a week November - March
*PLEASE BE ADVISED OF CURRENT TOUR CONDITIONS*
*Remember that once the weather starts to get warm in March, manatee begin their migration away from the springs and become more elusive. It is very important in the warm seasons to have REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS about how many animals you will see, under what conditions and how long it may take to find them. The COLD weather brings them to the area to enjoy our fresh water springs, but once the Gulf temps begin to warm, the manatee become more difficult to find and tend to be located closer to food sources where the water is not always clear. Also, spring brings hundreds of people to the area hoping for a glimpse of these amazing animals…COME EARLY MORNING if you hope to avoid the crowds. We add tours later in the day as capacity demands, but conditions deteriorate as the day goes on. If you are hoping to see dozens of manatee in clear spring water, than a springtime visit may disappoint. If you need more details about what to expect when visiting us in spring or summer, please visit our conditions page or call us anytime! We are always honest about conditions and encourage our visitors to do their research!
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRYSTAL RIVER AND HOMOSASSA MANATEE TOURS
This is a very common question and we do our best to advise honestly and completely. We only run manatee tours in Homosassa during the winter, though we typically can find at least a few manatees in the Crystal River all summer long. You may find a tour company to take you out in the summer to explore the Homosassa; but we strive for the best experience possible and hate to have disappointed visitors!
Manatees may be more plentiful in Crystal River; however, so are the humans! Crystal River can get crowded and often times people are surprised at the man-made canals, businesses and residential areas that surround the springs. Homosassa tends to be more quiet, less crowded (busy on weekends) and has a more natural setting. Crystal River has dozens of springs so the manatees spread out throughout the Bay; but in Homosassa there is one head spring where the animals congregate when it's cold. Once it is warm, there are virtually no manatees to be found in Homosassa. When in doubt, call for an update on conditions!
WHAT TO BRING
Wear your bathing suit...that way you are ready for a quick change into the wetsuit. Bring a towel, most people will bring these along on the boat. Keep season and air temps in mind. If it is cooler, it is a great idea to bring a sweatshirt, jacket or even a full set of loose fitting clothing to slip on after you get out of the water. If you have young children, this is especially important, be prepared with warm clothes....always better safe than sorry! The pontoon is enclosed, but being prepared for the elements is important. Warm clothes, hat, sunscreen, etc. The water here is always 72 degrees, and for some that is quite chilly! Feel free to bring a bag onboard the boat to keep your personal items, but we HIGHLY recommend not bringing anything of value on board the boat. During warmer weather most people will wear their wetsuits back to the shop and change into their clothes when they return from the trip. Bring what you feel you need, but no worries we will take care of the details! On the VIP we provide you with bottled water and other assorted beverages, but you are welcome to bring whatever else you would like!
It is very important to have realistic expectations when it comes to a wild animal encounter! Every trip is different and the experience is unique for each individual. In the cooler weather the animals migrate to this area and congregate here for the protection of the warm water springs; when the weather warms they can move about going wherever they want! These are wild animals and we can not control their migration. Manatee spend their lives searching for food, mates, sleeping and playing....it is hard to predict what state they will be in when we encounter them. The early mornings tend to be the best time to find the animals and best chance of seeing them near the springs where the water tends to be more clear. Remember it is very simple, cold weather = many manatee; warmer weather=lower manatee counts and more time looking for these endangered animals. Even seeing a few manatee is a phenomenal adventure! With your semi-private VIP adventure in Homosassa, you get 4 hours on the water and this can make a huge difference. More time on the water equals more chances to see wildlife and create memories!
How long is the Manatee Swim Tour?
The semi-private VIP tour is a 4 hour adventure from start to finish. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARRIVE NO LATER THAN YOUR SCHEDULED TOUR TIME!! Our boats operate on a schedule ....and it can be very difficult to deviate from that for a late party. Don’t miss the boat.....please arrive on time!
Do you provide us with an in-water Tour Guide?
Yes, we provide a US Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain AND an in water Chaperone, tour guide and photographer! We take pride in having the best Captains and guides in the business and they go above and beyond to ensure that your group has a safe, pleasant and educational experience. Our Guides and Captains are all Certified Eco-Tour guides through the Manatee Ecotourism Association in conjunction with USFW.....they do not only know how to drive a boat, but they are stewards for these animals and this eco-system, doing their best to stay abreast of all the latest in scientific research. They will ‘model’ the proper behavior to assure that the manatee are treated with the utmost respect......this is their house, we are just the visitors! Your guide will also take photos, from the boat, underwater and all around. These photos are available at the shop after your tour....that way you do not have to worry about your own camera and it’s a great way to take these memories home with you!
Are there rules we have to follow when we Snorkel With Manatee?
Absolutely! Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and it is quite a privilege that we get to have this sort of encounter! Both the State and Federal Government oversee the protection of these animals and the guidelines get stricter every year. These laws are in place to help protect the animals and they will be enforced here in the Wildlife Refuge, people can be ticketed, fined and removed from the water if behavior is deemed inappropriate or illegal. When you arrive for your tour we will cover all the dos and don’ts so you are fully informed before you hit the water!
How long is the boat ride to the manatee?
There is not ‘one spot’ that we go to look for manatee and there is not ‘one area’ that we visit every day, every tour. We go where we can find animals. In the winter time, that may be a short 30 minute ride to the main springs. But in the warmer weather, we may have to look for much longer. In the cold weather we have many in the area and it typically does not take long to find them, but when it gets warm patience is a requirement! With our enclosed houseboat you will be comfortable on even the chilliest winter day!
How many manatee will we see?
Please remember that manatees are a protected and threatened species and seeing even one of these majestic beasts is a great privilege. Our tours are conducted in their natural habitat and they are free to come and go as they please. No two days are ever the same, and no two tour times are the same either. Weather, tidal influences and time of the year affect the conditions daily and it can never be predicted just how many manatees you will see. During the colder months we have a large concentration, but if there is a considerable warm spell they will become difficult to find. We never guarantee that you will find or encounter manatee and how many you see is tough for us to predict as well.
Can I ride the boat and not swim? What if I do not know how to swim?
We always welcome observers and you can often see the manatee from the boat. They sometimes come very close and give you an awesome view! We are only allowed so many passengers on the boats, so an observer does have to pay for that seat. Bring your cameras and binoculars and enjoy the surroundings of the refuge! If you are not a strong swimmer then you must use your own judgment. Are you comfortable in the water with a flotation device? Do you get anxious and upset in the water? We must remain calm and still near the animals, so ‘swimming’ is not as important as being able to relax and float!
What about weather conditions?
Rarely do we ever have to cancel because of weather conditions...a little rain doesn’t stop us! Because we are on the coast, storms will often move through quite quickly and even if we delay it will not take away from your tour time. If we need to cancel because of inclement weather you will be offered a refund, reschedule or gift certificate.
What is your cancellation policy?
Reservations cancelled five calendar days prior to Tour, Charter or Rental arrival date will receive a full refund less the booking fee of 4%. Any Tour, Charter or Rental cancelled by River Safaris or River Ventures due to inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control shall receive a 100% refund.
Reservations cancelled less than the time period or conditions outlined above will be offered a chance to reschedule (based on availability) or receive a voucher for the Tour, Charter or Rental for the full amount paid. Vouchers have no expiration and may be used towards any Tour, Charter, or Rental. If this should happen we make every effort to notify you as soon as possible. We determine cancellation by the date the reservation of a boat rental is made. Make your reservations early to avoid this happening to you!