Gift Certificate 'The OG' Swim with the Manatee Tour - Endangered Encounter
- Location: Crystal River, Florida
- Product code: GCManateeDaily
Enjoy the unique privilege that is exclusively ours here in Citrus County Florida by swimming with the manatees in the spring-fed King’s Bay Wildlife Refuge! Crystal River is home to the world’s largest population of endangered manatee during the winter season, and even a small population the warm months. Having the chance to encounter these curious, gentle giants in their natural habitat is an adventure that your family will never forget!
We guarantee that after you meet our friendly gentle-giants you will never be the same! You will never forget your adventures here in Crystal River, and chances are - we will see you again!
This encounter with our endangered manatee is done on a covered pontoon and is perfect for all levels of snorkel experience. Don’t miss the boat!
- 3 hour tour from start to finish
- Masks, snorkels, and wetsuits included
- Bottled water included on board
- Photo package available at the end of your tour
- Pontoon boats hold up to 16 people
- 7 days a week, year round!
6:15 am 7:15 am 9:15am 10:15am 12:15 tour added in ‘manatee season’
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 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!
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!
Where do we meet?
We meet at our full service Manatee Tour and Educational facility in Crystal River. You will be checked in, and offered complimentary coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Upon tour time, we take you into a classroom type setting where we learn about the animals, the eco-system and watch a short video of rules required by the US Fish and Wildlife. This is a wildlife refuge and it is very important that we fully inform you as to what the rules are and how to behave if you hope to view a manatee up close! We will fit you for a wetsuit, direct you to our climate controlled changing rooms and gather up your group. We take care of transporting you the very short drive to the dock, where your Captain is waiting for you! After your tour, we will drive you back to River Ventures. You can help yourself to coffee and cocoa, use the restrooms and changing rooms, check out the gift shop and view the photos from your adventure!
Are the boats covered? What about bathrooms?
Our manatee boats are all fully covered with clear vinyl enclosures that can be rolled up or down depending on weather conditions. Each boat is also equipped with a flushable porta-potty inside a curtained privacy area that can be used as a changing room for those that wish to put on dry clothing for the short ride back to the dock.
How many people do you take on your boats?
Our boats are US Coast Guard Certified, inspected and stability tested for your safety and are designed to hold anywhere between 6 and 16 swimmers and/or observers. Keep in mind that we control the amount of people on our boats, but we can not control the amount of people on the water. We go on a manatee search and all the tour companies go where animals are found......so after 9 am, especially on weekends, Holidays or during manatee season, the waterways can get very crowded with people. At 6:15 you get out while the refuge is at its quietest and the manatee are still in their most relaxed state. We know it’s early....but it tends to be the best experience for our customers so we don’t mind the wake-up call!
Do you provide us with an in-water tour guide?
Our US Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain will be your in water Chaperone, tour guide and photographer! We take pride in having the best Captains in the business and they go above and beyond to ensure that your group has a safe, pleasant and educational experience. Our 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. Your Captain 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 at the shop prior to 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 8 to 12 minute ride to a spring. 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!
How many manatee will we See?
Please remember that manatees are an endangered 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. Because this unique eco-system is a prime manatee habitat, we have a small resident population even in the summer. 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 floatation 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!
Are there age limits?
Children must be at least 3 to go on the group tours, but younger babies are allowed on a private tour. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, and very young children must understand enough to be calm and quiet in order to not scare the animals away. Children should be comfortable in the water and parents should stay close at all times for safety. We have wetsuits in all sizes and provide snorkel vests and flotation noodles if kids need a bit of assistance staying at the surface without swimming.
Are there any hidden fees? Do you have discounts?
Our tour price includes everything you need to swim with the manatee! There are no hidden fees or ‘up charges’ for wetsuits, snorkel gear, parking or other unexpected expenses. A picture CD of your tour is optional when you return to River Ventures and you can even view these photos before you decide to purchase them. Our tour price is an AWESOME DEAL for what you receive in return.....most of our customers agree on this! However, we do offer group discounts for 10 or more people. Typical group discounts are 10% savings. We also do combination discounts, meaning that if you book a morning manatee tour and an afternoon airboat we will offer you a discount. Custom packages are available for large groups, just call or email for details.
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. Our boats are covered to protect you and your belongings from the elements if you wish to stay dry. If we need to cancel because of inclement weather you will be offered a refund, reschedule or gift certificate.