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Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Tours

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Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
If you've ever dreamt of swimming with manatees in their natural habitat, Florida’s Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is where to go. Established in 1983, the 177-acre (71-hectare) refuge is home to America’s largest concentration of the 1,000-pound gentle giants. West Indian Manatees flock to the more than 70 turquoise-colored springs in Crystal River for warmth during winter. With hundreds of manatees in a small area, sightings are frequent.

The Basics
Visitors to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge must approach the area by boat. Trained wildlife experts lead excursions onto the river for visitors to view the sea cows and snorkel among them. Whether on a private or a group tour, visitors should receive safety instructions to give the wild animals plenty of space and admire their beauty from a distance. In addition to manatees, you may see dolphins, birds, fish, and turtles. Though manatee encounters are never guaranteed, the refuge is one of the few natural habitats where people are permitted to swim with them.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The waters at Crystal River are comfortably warm, about 72°F (22°C) and clear year-round. 
  • Most guided tours are led by US Coast Guard-licensed captains and include a wetsuit and snorkel gear.
  • Travelers should not intentionally approach the manatees; touching, chasing, and feeding are prohibited.
  • Tours often include underwater photography and meals or snacks for the day.
  • Manatee season is mid-November to late March and most tours start early in the morning.

How to Get There
The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge sits alongside the town of Crystal River in Kings Bay, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Tampa and 85 miles (137 kilometers) northwest of Orlando. The refuge doesn’t offer water access facilities for visitors. 

When to Get There
The manatee season at Crystal River refuge begins in mid-November and ends in late March. The visitor center is open daily from 8am to 4pm in winter and on weekdays from May through October. The refuge staff may close parts of the sanctuary during winter.

Three Sisters Springs
There are three major sites within Crystal River from which the Florida manatee can be observed. King Spring, where the refugee started, is the largest. Three Sisters is considered the most beautiful and important to the manatees. Shuttles from the Three Sisters Springs Center to a boardwalk along the water run daily.
Address: 1502 Southeast Kings Bay Drive, Crystal River, Florida 34429, USA
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Nature & Wildlife

NEW TO VIATOR

Swim With Manatees

Swimming with the manatees is a once in a lifetime experience so do it right! Dont cram into a small dive shop. Spread out and enjoy plenty of space at Explorida! The Explorida Adventure Center offers a large, top notch facility that is climate controlled with indoor changing rooms for your privacy. Our boats are U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified, which means they are allowed to carry more than 6 passengers, have all necessary safety equipment, and are in tip top shape. Dont get stuck on a clunker! Book with Explorida! We are dedicated to the customer experience and will not disappoint! Let us prove it!
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 58.30
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US$ 58.30
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Private Sightseeing Tours

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VIP Private Sunset Cruise (Up to 6 guests)

Enjoy a relaxing float down the Crystal River on a 26-foot (8-meter) JC Tri-hull pontoon boat. Enjoy nature and spot wildlife as you cruise King's Bay with an experienced captain at the helm, and admire the colorful sunsets the area is known for. The tour includes up to six people.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 206.70
From  
US$ 206.70
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Snorkeling

Swim with Manatee Adventure!

Get up close to Florida’s manatees on this small-group snorkeling adventure. With an expert guide leading the way, swim alongside these gentle giants in Kings Bay. All tours include a full wetsuit, mask, snorkel, towel service, heated changing facilities, and hot showers. Photos and video of your excursion are available for purchase.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 63.60
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US$ 63.60
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Snorkeling

Small Group Swim with Manatee Adventure

One of the densest populations of West Indian manatees can be found in Crystal River, Florida. Swim alongside the gentle creatures on a trip into the river, with a wetsuit and snorkel mask included. Your guide, who navigates to the best spotting locations, accompanies you into the water in addition to taking souvenir photos available for purchase. To ensure your comfort, dry towels, hot drinks, and showers are provided.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 89.04
From  
US$ 89.04
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Nature & Wildlife

Crystal River Manatee Swim

Get to know central Florida’s endangered manatees on this boat tour. Swim and snorkel with these gentle giants at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, located in King’s Bay in the town of Crystal River — well known as the home of the manatee. Photos above and below the water will be taken throughout the tour and can be purchased afterward, if desired. Use of a mask, snorkel gear and wet suit, plus fees and beverages are included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 67.84
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Eco Tours

Crystal River Manatee Snorkeling Tour

Snorkel with manatees in the Crystal River on a wildlife tour that gets you close to the West Indian Manatees that flock to the Crystal River's many freshwater springs. You'll learn about the remarkable manatees and the ecosystem they depend on, then slip into the water to see the manatees as they swim and feed. Wetsuits and all snorkeling equipment are included in this Crystal River manatee tour, with warm drinks served on board the boat.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$ 60.00
From  
US$ 60.00
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Nature & Wildlife

Crystal River Manatee Swim or Boat Ride from Orlando

Spend a day with central Florida’s manatees on this guided cruise and wildlife park adventure. Begin with a boat ride on the Crystal River, home of the manatee. Swim and snorkel with these gentle giants, then enjoy the afternoon at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This is one of the best places in the state to watch manatees, as well as other animals, like bears, panthers and alligators in their natural environment. Breakfast and a picnic lunch, plus an Orlando-area hotel pickup and drop-off included.
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 113.99
From  
US$ 113.99
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Day Cruises

Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour

Swim with the manatees on a half-day pontoon boat tour of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, a marine refuge designed to protect the threatened Florida manatee. Learn about the fascinating marine mammals on a tour designed for spotting manatees without disturbing them or disrupting their habitat, and explore a scenic Florida ecosystem. This small-group experience is limited to six people for personalized service, and all equipment, entrance fees, water and hot drinks, and snacks are included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 94.00
From  
US$ 94.00
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Nature & Wildlife

Private Manatee Tour

Get to know central Florida’s endangered manatees on this private, 3-hour tour and boat cruise. Swim and snorkel with these gentle giants at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, located in King’s Bay in the town of Crystal River — well known as the home of the manatee. Photos above and below the water will be taken throughout the tour and can be purchased later, if desired. Use of a mask, snorkel gear and wet suit, plus fees and beverages are included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 551.20
From  
US$ 551.20
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Snorkeling

Private Swim with Manatee Adventure

Crystal River is home to one of the densest manatee populations in the country. With the trained eye of your guide, visit the best spotting locations to swim with the gentle giants of King’s Bay. The private tour ensures the full attention of your guide, as well as closer interaction with the manatees. For your comfort and convenience, wetsuits, hot drinks, and towel service are included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 477.00
From  
US$ 477.00
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Snorkeling

Private Tour: Custom Snorkeling Tour with Manatee Swim

Manatees, dolphins, aquatic turtles, and more make the waters off the coast of Florida an ideal snorkeling location for nature lovers. This private tour keeps your experience special by limiting participants to just your group, a swim guide, and the boat captain. This private tour can be customized by the type of animals you would most like to see, and includes swimming near manatees at the Crystal River Refuge.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 450.00
From  
US$ 450.00
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Fishing Charters & Tours

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Crystal River Fishing Charter

Looking for the best fishing charter in town? Hop on board with High Octane Fishing and have a blast fishing the Crystal River area.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$ 360.00
US$ 450.00
US$ 90.00 savings
From  
US$ 360.00
US$ 450.00
US$ 90.00 savings
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

The New Perspective Manatee Tour, See The Manatee - Crystal River Segway Tours

Explore Crystal River via Segway with a certified guide. After a short training session, hop on your personal craft and hit the streets. Glide through the historic part of town, past parks and waterways, and through quaint neighborhoods. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees—although not guaranteed, during season a spotting is highly likely.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
From  
US$ 52.00
From  
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes


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(888) 651-9785
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