We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Better than we imagined!” 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
Improve this listing
Ranked #22 of 39 Activities in Crystal River
Type: Tours, Adventure
More attraction details
Attraction details
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.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Valdosta, Georgia
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Better than we imagined!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

My mom booked this manatee tour for myself, a friend, and our kids (ages 14, 10, and 6). Our GPS took us to the wrong place TWICE. I would recommend giving yourself plenty of extra time to find it if you're using electronic navigation. After some other reviews I've read on here, I was kind of afraid that we would be fussed at for arriving late. I did call and let them know what happened, and our approximate arrival time (22 minutes late, 6:52 am). The staff were not rude to us, and seemed very accommodating. We watched the video and they helped us pick suits and snorkels quickly so we could all leave on time. There were 15 people on our tour, and ours were the only kids of the group. Capt. Ned talked about the area and wildlife and gave details on the manatees and their habits. He also advised everybody again about how to behave in the water with the manatees so as not to disturb them, and also to ensure the best interaction with them. We pulled up to the entrance to Three Sister's Spring and he gave advice on how to make our goggles fit best, then had us snorkel out into the spring so that those of us who had never snorkled could get used to it before we saw any manatees. The spring was beautiful, I'd almost book this trip again just to go back in there and snorkel for a while. When we came out of the spring area and back into the canal. there were three manatees: a mama, a baby, and another adult. After what happened next, I'd like to come to Capt. Ned's defense. I've read reviews stating he was irritable, mean, etc. I can totally understand why. We had all been instructed several times prior how to behave. Unfortunately, my kids were more well behaved than some of the adults in the area. How many times should a grown-up have to be told: do not splash, please be quiet, put your feet up, if you put your face down in the water your feet will automatically go up, don't chase them, be calm and they will come to you...It was ridiculous. People were swarming like they had paid a thousand bucks for the tour and it was the last manatee left on Earth. I got kicked in the face twice, had people swim over me, and had hands pushed in my face several times. In spite of that, it was still a wonderful experience! My son and friend's son got out of the water kind of early, they are 6 and 10 years old. Capt. Ned told us that he would watch them on the deck and they would be fine. He was kind to them, and they enjoyed just standing up there and watching the manatees swim. My friend and I and my 14 yr old daughter remained in the water. If you just float, don't kick/splash/flail, they will come right up to you. An adult manatee swam right underneath me, less than two feet away. I finally got out because I was getting a headache. My daughter remained in the water floating and a manatee came up to her, face to face. It checked her out and swam away, she was pretty amazed. After a while some other tour boats had come up and it was getting pretty crowded so we left the area, this was around 9:00. It started to rain, but Capt. Ned still drove us around to some other areas that manatees and dolphins frequent. We didn't see any more, but I think we were all pretty satisfied with our interaction. I have recommended this company to several co-workers. I would love to come back, we were thrilled with the service and how we were treated. Thanks, Capt. Ned!

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

377 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Gurnee, Illinois
2 reviews
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Captain Mike's Sunshine River Tours - Awful swim with Manatees Experience”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2014

What a horrible experience. We booked over the phone and Captain Mike was surly at best on the phone. That should have been the first warning sign. Then we couldn't find the place. Signs were awful. Called to get directions and they were barely helpful on the phone.
Then they sent us out with captain Ned. He gave us no information. He is the guy in the picture in the other review. We were there in late June and they make it sound like they will be easy to spot. Not true!!! They are out in the river and it is murky at best you can see about a foot in front of you. Then Capt. Ned finds one lonely manatee and he makes everyone rush into the water. He stands on the deck screaming and cussing at everyone and complaining about why don't they listen to him. To hear him they lift their heads out of the water. Then he yells at them for having their heads out of the water.
After that we get back in the boat and we drive around hunting for more manatees. We find 4 more. Some process. He screams and cusses at the people in the water. Soon another boat pulls up and now there are 20 people chasing these poor animals.
On our way in he is radioed that his next group is 12 people. All he did was complain about taking out more people and how they wouldn't listen either.
DO NOT Waste your time or money with this organization. It was Awful!!!

Visited June 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Won't do again!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

We are 7 hours away and had made reservations with Capt Mike Tours. We arrived and got on board the boat with 8 other people. Captain Ned was the boat driver. He was terrible! he hollered at everyone and complained. Grown or child he yelled. I called Capt Mike to talk to him about it and he told me that Ned was having a nerve problem and wasn't feeling good that day. I told him I as well as 9 nine other people on the boat paid good money for the trip and him being sick and the attitude is not what we paid for. Capt Mike was not nice at all and started making excuses about everything. DO NOT GO ON CAPT MIKE SUNSHINE TOURS!. It was not enjoyable and even tho we saw manatee I didn't pay money to be treated like I was an idiot.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Worst Vacation Thanks to Capt. Ned”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

We were so excited to swim with the manatee on our vacation! We watched the required video of what we would see, what to expect, what to do and not to do... The video left out what really would happen. Captain Ned began our tour by telling the passengers to be quiet and never splash in the water because it would scare the manatee. We all practiced complete silence on the boat at that point. Our first stop in the water, we were so excited until we got into the water silently. The silence was quickly broken with Captain Ned yelling at us "put your goggles on! stop splashing! keep your heads, feet, and hands in the water at all times! Man! why did you lift your head up? Now your eyes have to adjust!! hurry! swim to the left! did you hear me?! go to your left! lady! go to your left! everyone be quiet! stop moving! put your heads in the water! go to the left! go to the right! you gotta keep your head out of the water so you can see the manatee bubbles to tell where they are! everyone back in the boat now!! (this was the first drop into the water that lasted about 5 minutes). Thought we were supposed to be silent but Captain Ned's yelling was ridiculous. We loaded the boat and Ned took us to several other spots which were much the same as the first-a ridiculous amount of Ned yelling and us swimmers silently floating around like a bunch of scared wet rats... Passengers were so frustrated with Ned's constant rudeness, no one wanted to get into the water at all. When the passengers (from the boat) saw the largest manatee of the trip, Captain Ned was on the phone with USPS and kept going... My last dip into the water was ended as I tried to adjust my goggles silently only to have Ned yell "go to your left! I said go to your left! you don't know your left from your right?!" At this point, I knew the best option was to end the constant badgering I was receiving and join the other passengers that had already given up. Never will I waste my time or money with Captain Mike's Tours because of Captain Ned treating ALL passengers like straight dummies. NONE of these details were included in the video...

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clearwater, Florida
2 reviews
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Manatees no where to be found”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2014

floated for two hours and saw no mantees. Never went more than a half mile from dock. Very boring tour. The four of us spent 150.00 we could of rented a boat for 85.00 and had more fun.

Visited June 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Sunshine River Tours - Crystal River Manatee Tours also viewed


Been to Sunshine River Tours - Crystal River Manatee Tours? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Sunshine River Tours - Crystal River Manatee Tours, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.