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“Must Go”

River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
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Crystal River Manatee Swim
Ranked #1 of 50 Tours in Crystal River
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: River Ventures is a full service Tour center located in beautiful Crystal River, Florida. We offer many tour options to share all that the Nature Coast has to show you and we emphasize education about these Eco-systems!We have a passion for what we do, and it shows! Our Endangered Encounter manatee tours are our specialty, but we have so much more to offer! Air boat tours,VIP customized packages,Stand Up Paddle Boards, Scallop charters, sunset cruises, private charters, guided paddle tours on multiple rivers....we have much more to offer than you would expect!Spend the day or spend the week and River Ventures will introduce you to 'More than Manatee'!! Tours to snorkel with the manatees in their natural habitat are conducted daily, year round (reservations in advance are highly suggested). Our highly experienced in-water guides will escort you into the refuge to find the endangered manatee for viewing and up close encounters. River Ventures offers daily group trips of up to 12, and also offers private trips for both large and small groups including VIP and houseboat tours.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Lockers / storage, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Level Contributor
28 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Must Go”
Reviewed December 9, 2013

We went in December, on a 6am tour. We saw several manatees (approximately 7?), but we did not have the opportunity to touch or interact with any of them -- the ones we saw were either sleeping or with a calf, making them illegal to touch. That was a real downer, but I still give this 5 stars because we saw them so up-close, the water and environment were beautiful, and all of the staff were extremely professional. Also, people have to keep in mind that this is not a petting zoo. It's not Jurassic park (although there is a Jurassic Spring). The animals are not caged in and are free to come and go as they please. So we just felt fortunate to have seen them from the vantage point we did. We had Captain Steve and he was excellent -- you can tell this is what he loves doing. One recommendation I would suggest to future travelers: the colder it is the better. When we went, it was unseasonably warm (even for Florida in December). Most of the manatees chose to remain in the gulf. If I had to do-over, I would have watched the forecast for a few weeks and gone on a particularly cool day. If you live in Florida or have some flexibility with your travel plans, try to do this. Book at least 1 week in advance if you are targeting a weekend. ALWAYS chose the 6 AM tour -- the 9am consistently shows poorer results from what I have seen/read. Great experience overall and we hope to return one day.

Visited December 2013
Thank Ryan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“An Amazing Adventure!!”
Reviewed December 8, 2013

WOW! What an experience!!! We visited Crystal River in hopes of seeing one or two manatee, but we could not have imagined a better trip! We not only saw many manatee, but found several very playful ones that wanted to interact with us! We were probably a but lucky with the weather working in our favor and definitely don't want to give the impression that our experience is to be the expectation, but I would recommend River Ventures to anyone and everyone! They were very well organized, everything ran on time and they knew where to send us. Our guide for the day, Captain Donovan, was great!! He was funny, knew where to find manatee and showed us how to interact. He was also very conscious of the environmental aspect of our excursion and seemed to genuinely care about the manatee and the environment. We saw other tours while we were out where the captain/guide was doing one thing while his group was off doing another. This was definitely not the case with Captain Donovan. He kept the entire group involved and entertained and safe the entire trip. We could not have dreamed of a better experience!

Visited December 2013
Thank Kevin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
46 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Manatee extravaganza!”
Reviewed December 7, 2013

This boating company does everything right - and delivers it all with a smile.

The captain of the boat was friendly, descriptive of what we were seeing/where we were going and why, got in the water with us to guide us and take pictures, and made the entire trip a pleasure.

We saw so many manatees! The trip exceeded my expectations and met my requirements for not harassing this very endangered species.

The water is chilly - but not impossibly cold; and you'll forget about the temperature once you see the manatees.

Visited November 2013
Thank travelinmom12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
“It's the little things that make an experience great!”
Reviewed December 5, 2013

This operation pays attention to detail and it makes all the difference. They have a comfortable, roomy building for the pre trip education and briefing, tons of clean (non smelly) wetsuits in very good shape, coffee and snacks, and a very nice gift shop. Everyone was upbeat and friendly, they like what they are doing and it shows. The boat was roomy and set up for easy entry and exit from the water. Captain Sean knows the area and was pointing out manatees as soon as we left the pier. He took photos throughout the trip that were availabe for purchase on a CD for a VERY reasonable price - I am not putting the price here because they WAY undercharge for it and should really up the price. Loved this place and would definately recommend.

Visited December 2013
Thank Hawaiiscubacat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
64 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Fantastic day out”
Reviewed December 4, 2013

The first impression you get of this place is that it's run professionally.

After watching a short educational film we were given our wet suits and driven to the dock where we met Captain Rick who couldn't have been nicer.

We set off and it didn't take long for us to see our first Manatee. We got in the water and spent some time observing these magnificent creatures.

We set off for another location and soon found dozens of Manatees. This time they interacted with us and what a wonderful experience it was. You cannot imagine how gentle these huge creatures can be.

The boat was very comfortable with a toilet, hot drinks and snacks. Captain Rick was very knowlegeable and an absolute delight to be with. He took some great photos of us and constantly pointed out things of interest.

We spent about 4 hours on the tour and it was worth every penny. If you're thinking of doing a "swim with Manatees" tour then look no further.

Visited December 2013
Thank Alan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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