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“Capt. Mike's Private Manatee Tour, Crystal River” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sunshine River Tours - Crystal River Manatee Tours

Sunshine River Tours - Crystal River Manatee Tours
1610 SE Paradise Circle, Crystal River, FL 34429
+1 352-777-1796
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Owner description: We conduct manatee swim encounters in the three sisters,kings and and several other springs in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. We also rent pontoon boats and kayaks. We are located on the main spring on the water with plenty of free parking and the best view of Kings Bay.
Orlando, Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Capt. Mike's Private Manatee Tour, Crystal River”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2012

Surprised the family with a trip to see the Manatees up close. Not too many to be found in April, but our Capt. did very well. We got in the water when we came across a small group at one point, but they disappeared! Never the less, we probably sighted 10 or more Manatees on our trip, which was wonderful. To make our trip even better, we came across a group of dolphins who gave a wonderful display of herding fish, and then tossing them in the air before devouring them! Such a delight to see this for real in the wild. We also spotted a number of turtles, and a magnificent bald eagle circled our boat for a while - marvellous!
Worth every penny for the private tour, and we will definitely be coming back in the winter when the Manatees are in much greater numbers. Highly recommended.

Visited April 2012
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Hilton Head, South Carolina
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“snorkling with manatees is a once-in-a-lifetime experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2012

We stayed at the Port Hotel and Marina (www.porthotelandmarina.com) and went with their dive shop to snorkel with the manatees. They provided wet suits, etc. Early in the morning is the best time to go (before the crowds). Hotel is old but clean and very convenient and staff is great.

Visited January 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio
Top Contributor
180 reviews 180 reviews
33 attraction reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
135 helpful votes 135 helpful votes
“Had low expectations and they were exceeded”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2012

I am not going to lie. I had a TON of reservations about this place. You see, we had pre booked our trip last winter. A trip of 7 from Ohio. We were going to be driving down from Orlando and the night before I got on here and read all these recent bad reviews. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I rarely do anything these days without reading multiple reviews so I was shocked this place had gotten so many bad ones.

We were taking the 10 o'clock ride. We had all pre paid over the phone.

I will state right off the bat we had NO interaction with the infamous Captain Mike. If he is as nasty as folks say I can not comment.

The place looks a little scary upon arrival and YES. YOU DO HAVE TO PAY TO PARK. We expected this after reading the reviews and really didnt mind.

The ladies at the counter were not warm and fuzzy. But they were not rude. They helped seven novice people into wet suits and we actually had a few laughs. The bathroom facility is down right scary so don't use it if you can avoid it.

We were lucky enough to get Captain Dan. From start to finish Captain Dan was a class act. He went out of his way to make this an enjoyable trip for all of us.

No where on line did I see, nor did I expect a manatee "Guarantee". We are dealing with nature on her terms so I KNEW that it was a crap shoot at best that we would see one let alone swim with one. I had also done MY homework and I knew at this time of year they come and go based on the weather. People. DO NOT BASE YOUR REVIEWS ON THE SIGHTING OF A MANATEE.

If you want a guaranteed sighting then pay the 250 bucks at Sea World and get your guarantee. Seriously. Who goes down there thinking they will definitely see a ton of them? You have NOT done your homework. Period.

There is a reason they ONLY charge 40 bucks. There is a reason you weren't willing to pay more.

We got lucky. We saw maybe 8 of them. Wasn't great. but they were there. Dan felt so bad and really went out of his way to find them for us. He knows his stuff. He was so much more respectful to the manatees than some of the other companies in the water that day. They were loud, they wore flippers, they used floatation devices!!!

Dan instructed us many many times to not talk. To use hand signals. To not splash. To let the manatee come to us. Three of us did get to touch one. And that alone was worth it to me. He didn't hang around but we did get to touch him.

I would voice one note of caution. They don't give you any instruction on snorkeling. So if you have never gone before YOU WILL NEED TO BE INSTRUCTED. 6 out of 7 of us were newbies to snorkeling. 2 of the 6 panicked and headed back to the boat because they could not get the breathing right. This is a VERY big note of caution to everyone. Find someone to teach you to snorkel. Once I got someone to show me how to breath right my experience was 10 times better. On the way back Dan took us a tour of the Springs. We actually watch a pair of dolphins fishing! It was a beautiful day, a beautiful trip and I guess over all I didn't mind spending 40 bucks for a 2 hour boat ride and numerous manatee sightings.

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
39 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Wish the water was clearer”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2012

We loved our guide, and saw lots of great stuff on our trip to the river to swim with these huge animals, but the water was simply too murky to appreciated them while in the water. Those of us who were on the boat were able to see the manatees better than those in the water!

The guide was very accurate in telling us the manatees are like cats. If they choose to come up to you, they will, but if you do anything loud or fast, the scare off easily! Being in the water is not a guarantee of being close to a manatee.

Visited March 2012
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Naperville, Illinois
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience....we will be back!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2012

We thought swimming with the manatees would be fun but it was really fun! And peaceful! And amazing. These awesome animals are so majestic, calm and friendly and being able to swim with them in their natural habitat was amazing. The crystal river area is beautiful and after touring the bay for a while searching for just the right spot, we located several manatees and spent the better part of an hour in the water swimming with them. It is a bit nerve wracking at first because the water is very murky and you cannot really spot them while in the water. They sort of come out of nowhere and it's a bit scary. But once you settle into the swim it becomes so enjoyable to see these endangered animals. We encountered over 6 manatees including a baby calf who could not get enough of our attention it seemed. Overall the tour was a terrific value, the staff were great and we will be back to enjoy this adventure again. Note: The water temp is 72 degrees all year. It felt quite cold at first but with the wetsuit on we got comfortable after a few minutes.

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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