Crystal River
Crystal River
4.5
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  • Carrie W
    Pace, Florida5 contributions
    Visit the Manatee's on a budget!
    Our family of 9 recently visited Crystal River for a swim with the Manatees. We stayed at the Best Western Inn on the property and the rooms were clean and breakfast good. Nothing amazing but the best option in that area. Just behind the hotel is a rental place where you can rent a pontoon boat for $35 an hour!!! Now I have to warn you that this boat looks like it is rented for $35 an hour but it runs and gets you where you need to go. You can rent wetsuits for only $10 and then we brought our own snorkels but those are only $5. Call ahead and reserve your boat with Jerry 352-795-6798 at the Crystal dive center. Then just follow respectably behind the tours where people are paying $80 a person. If you see a lot of people snorkeling, you can bet manatees are there. Slide in quietly and prepare to be amazed! The joy of bringing your own boat is you get to go where you want to. People who had paid big money never saw one that day. If you own canoes or paddle boards, bring them and do it completely free. This is an experience you don't want to miss! We went on Dec 30th. One tip we learned was the colder the air is outside, the higher the chance you will see Manatees. Water is always 72 and feels great. The whole experience cost us about $200 for a family of 9
    Visited December 2019
    Written January 8, 2020
  • clavall2
    Liverpool, New York5 contributions
    Best Manatee experience!
    On December 21 my family visited Crystal River for a manatees snorkeling trip by Fun2Dive. It was an experience of a life time. Not only is Crystal river a wonderful little town, the people were amazing and friendly. We stayed at the Holiday Inn express in a 2 KING bed room (great for young adult sisters) and had a fantastic seafood dinner at Crackers Bar and Grill. We participated in a luxury manatee cruise with Fun2Dive at 730am with Ryan and Kelly. Kelly captured incredible pictures and video of us interacting with the manatee, allowing us to enjoy our up close interactions with the manatee. We were amazed at how friendly, curious and cute these gentle giants are! Again thank you #Fun2Dive
    Visited December 2019
    Written January 1, 2020
  • Zona H
    12 contributions
    Crystal River's Newest Gem
    We just ate at Saltwater Cowboys Restaurant in Crystal River and are totally impressed with the new owners and the improved menu. All items are fresh, not frozen and all desserts are made on the premises. The blackened grouper was huge with just the right seasoning and came with two sides. The shrimp scampi contained several very large tiger shrimp and was very tasty. We saw a huge burger being served with fried green tomatoes on top. It looked amazing! The fresh made chocolate peanut butter Pie was incredible and the soft white chocolate cranberry cookies were fantastic. The new owner told us that all their steaks and meats are of the highest quality and are reasonable priced. This is the newest edition to Crystal River dining and is an instant hit! Don't let the edifice fool you...there's a jewel inside the doors!
    Visited June 2021
    Traveled with friends
    Written June 21, 2021
  • James W
    6 contributions
    Watch for Paid Parking
    We visited Hunter Spring park in Crystal River. It was very busy around noon when we visited, mostly locals launching their kayaks and paddle boards. We didn't see the small sign about paid parking as you enter the park, as we were busy looking for an open space among maybe 40 parking spaces.There is no signage on each space, just the two kiosks on opposite sides of the parking area. Be careful in Crystal River because it seems they have a mixture of "public parking" that is free and paid parking that is patrolled by ticket writers. We were there less than 30 minutes and we got a $50 ticket for not paying the $5 fee.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 22, 2023
  • Heather
    3 contributions
    Such a sad disappointment
    Been going to Crystal River for 30 years. It used to be clean and pristine, but today went for Mother’s Day and wow what a dirty not kept up place. The state needs to shut it down for 5 years or so to replenish this place back to its beauty. Too many kayaks and they are ruining this beautiful place.swimming in the back is safer for the erosion. People climbing all over the sides and kayaking on the shores and ramming it. It’s definitely a disappointment as I’ve been coming for years here. Save crystal river I say, people have no respect for nature. So they shouldn’t be able to enjoy it and ruin it. I hope the state does something soon or it will be ruined forever.
    Visited May 2021
    Traveled with family
    Written May 9, 2021
  • Deborah H
    1 contribution
    Small Group Manatee Swim at Crystal River through River Venure (Get Your Guide)
    We experienced a small group manatee swim at Crystal River with guide Dave and Captain Troy from River Ventures USA (booked through Get your Guide). A fantastic experience, with knowledgeable and caring people. Although out of the main season we gor to see a mummy manatee nursing her calf and had interactions with various other manatees. Whole eperience was tailored to the care and protection of the manatees. Lovely little touches like complimentary drinks (inc wine) and snacks, as well as a little side trip to the three sisters spring. Lot's of manatee retail therapy back at base and friendly canine greetings from the puppies. All in all a great day and worth the drive out from Orlando. Thank you
    Visited September 2022
    Written October 2, 2022
  • George H
    The Cincinnati Region93 contributions
    Very impressive and inspiring
    Being an animal lover and zoo volunteer, I eagerly looked forward to our visit. We weren't disappointed in our quest to see some manatees. I had a great conversation with volunteer Kimberly... she even thanked me for being a zoo volunteers. I'd recommended spending one's time exploring the sights from the boardwalk... the "hiking" path is very nice, but there's more action in the river.
    Visited February 2020
    Written February 16, 2020
  • Michelle N
    Nanaimo, Canada13 contributions
    INDIFFERENCE TO COVID
    Apparently, some folks and/or visitors to Crystal River feel COVID is not a threat. Despite posted policies for mask-wearing, people are milling around without masks at the Home Depot and at Publix. AND no one with those stores s following up to tell the folks to mask up or leave.
    Visited August 2020
    Written September 2, 2020
  • Val K
    1 contribution
    Explorida Manatee Tour
    The Explorida Manatee Tour was wonderful. We were able to get up close to the manatees and when the area we were swimming in became crowded, they took us to another beautiful spot where we saw a mother manatee with her calf. The tour guide and boat captain were great - they told us all about the manatee habits. They were so helpful and catered to our every need. We swam in wet suits and the water is 72 degrees all year and very clear. It was a very relaxing, enjoyable day. I highly recommend it.
    Visited February 2020
    Written February 22, 2020
  • Linda C
    Springfield, Missouri1 contribution
    Swimming with the manatees
    My husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary swimming with the manatees. He is a great swimmer, I am not. Actually you are floating with a mask and snorkel. I also used a noodle. Our captain, Dustin, and our guide in the water, Courtney, were both wonderful. They both are very knowledgeable and helpful. Courtney made sure each of us were ok and that we got a chance to see the manatees up close without disturbing them. Dustin had warm towels and hot chocolate for us when we got back in the boat. We asked lots of questions and they were very helpful and courtesy. Also wanted to mention the staff in the office, Dennis & Aubrey. They were very friendly and helpful. Aubrey was especially helpful as we needed to change our scheduled time which she did easily and pleasantly. Great experience!!!
    Visited January 2022
    Written January 14, 2022
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
630 reviews
Excellent
492
Very good
87
Average
33
Poor
12
Terrible
6

James W
6 contributions
Jul 2023
We visited Hunter Spring park in Crystal River. It was very busy around noon when we visited, mostly locals launching their kayaks and paddle boards. We didn't see the small sign about paid parking as you enter the park, as we were busy looking for an open space among maybe 40 parking spaces.There is no signage on each space, just the two kiosks on opposite sides of the parking area. Be careful in Crystal River because it seems they have a mixture of "public parking" that is free and paid parking that is patrolled by ticket writers. We were there less than 30 minutes and we got a $50 ticket for not paying the $5 fee.
Written July 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Heather
3 contributions
May 2021 • Family
Been going to Crystal River for 30 years. It used to be clean and pristine, but today went for Mother’s Day and wow what a dirty not kept up place. The state needs to shut it down for 5 years or so to replenish this place back to its beauty. Too many kayaks and they are ruining this beautiful place.swimming in the back is safer for the erosion. People climbing all over the sides and kayaking on the shores and ramming it. It’s definitely a disappointment as I’ve been coming for years here. Save crystal river I say, people have no respect for nature. So they shouldn’t be able to enjoy it and ruin it. I hope the state does something soon or it will be ruined forever.
Written May 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Deborah H
1 contribution
Sep 2022
We experienced a small group manatee swim at Crystal River with guide Dave and Captain Troy from River Ventures USA (booked through Get your Guide). A fantastic experience, with knowledgeable and caring people. Although out of the main season we gor to see a mummy manatee nursing her calf and had interactions with various other manatees.

Whole eperience was tailored to the care and protection of the manatees.

Lovely little touches like complimentary drinks (inc wine) and snacks, as well as a little side trip to the three sisters spring.

Lot's of manatee retail therapy back at base and friendly canine greetings from the puppies. All in all a great day and worth the drive out from Orlando. Thank you
Written October 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

George H
The Cincinnati Region93 contributions
Feb 2020
Being an animal lover and zoo volunteer, I eagerly looked forward to our visit. We weren't disappointed in our quest to see some manatees. I had a great conversation with volunteer Kimberly... she even thanked me for being a zoo volunteers. I'd recommended spending one's time exploring the sights from the boardwalk... the "hiking" path is very nice, but there's more action in the river.
Written February 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michelle N
Nanaimo, Canada13 contributions
Aug 2020
Apparently, some folks and/or visitors to Crystal River feel COVID is not a threat.

Despite posted policies for mask-wearing, people are milling around without masks at the Home Depot and at Publix.

AND no one with those stores s following up to tell the folks to mask up or leave.
Written September 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Val K
1 contribution
Feb 2020
The Explorida Manatee Tour was wonderful. We were able to get up close to the manatees and when the area we were swimming in became crowded, they took us to another beautiful spot where we saw a mother manatee with her calf. The tour guide and boat captain were great - they told us all about the manatee habits. They were so helpful and catered to our every need. We swam in wet suits and the water is 72 degrees all year and very clear. It was a very relaxing, enjoyable day. I highly recommend it.
Written February 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Linda C
Springfield, MO1 contribution
Jan 2022
My husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary swimming with the manatees. He is a great swimmer, I am not. Actually you are floating with a mask and snorkel. I also used a noodle. Our captain, Dustin, and our guide in the water, Courtney, were both wonderful. They both are very knowledgeable and helpful. Courtney made sure each of us were ok and that we got a chance to see the manatees up close without disturbing them. Dustin had warm towels and hot chocolate for us when we got back in the boat. We asked lots of questions and they were very helpful and courtesy. Also wanted to mention the staff in the office, Dennis & Aubrey. They were very friendly and helpful. Aubrey was especially helpful as we needed to change our scheduled time which she did easily and pleasantly. Great experience!!!
Written January 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mary
Crystal River, FL3 contributions
Jul 2021 • Family
It had rained for 3 days so we were not sure if fireworks in Kings bay would be a go ! But boy was it . We drove our boat out at 8 or so and sat and waited. And we were not disappointed!!! This was by FAR the best fireworks show CR has had in years ! It was amazing!!! Thank you City of CR !! It was so EPIC . It made the rainy weekend worth it .
Written July 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Calimpich
Aiken, SC14 contributions
Apr 2023
Our extended family vacationed here. The springs were our favorite thing, with kayaking and swimming offered in several locations. There is no beach here. We hiked and fished, kayaked, visited the state park wildlife place, took an airboat ride, and floated in tubes down a river where we were not allowed to use our own tubes. Those were our highlights. The bugs were unbearable, until a local told us to get Captain Ron’s bug spray, or something like that. I won’t be visiting this area again.
Written April 9, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eileen S
Olean, NY18 contributions
Feb 2020 • Family
Brian & Hunter took us to swim with the manatees. These guys knew exactly where to go. Our group saw numerous manatees. Brian is in the water and makes sure each guests has a unique and unbelievable experience! Hunter captains the boat and sees manatees everywhere. This adventure was well worth it! Three hours proved to be plenty of time in the water. At the end, you’re a bit chilled: Brian and Hunter make you hot cocoa or tea! I’ll never forget this special day with my daughter!
Written February 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Crystal River - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Crystal River

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Very Good Reviews

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