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“Conscientious and Observant”

Crystal River Watersports
Ranked #14 of 51 Tours in Crystal River
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Your PADI 5-Star home for Eco Tours on Florida's Nature Coast. We offer a wide range of activities that can be combined for a full day or even a weekend of fun. Your adventure begins at our marina shop right off Highway 19 at the North end of Crystal River. Our Motto: Observing and preserving nature above, in, and under water
Maryville, Tennessee, United States
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Conscientious and Observant”
Reviewed October 13, 2012

I read hundreds of reviews of the top ten manatee tours before deciding on Florida Tours and I so glad I chose this operation. First of all, their morning tour doesn't leave until 7:30; if you're coming from Orlando with a teenager or child, that extra hour of sleep is important. The folks in the shop were very nice and they made it clear that they have a vested interest in making sure that we understand the rules of swimming with manatees because there's a lot of opposition to the practice. Apparently there are a lot of pinko-Commi tree huggers (my words not theirs) that want to shut these businesses down. Knowing that their livelihood depended on my son and me following the rules made us pay closer attention to the video and guidance.

As for the experience there's no question we had the best tour of any group that day. As we entered King's Bay, other tour operators were rushing to the two main spring areas where manatee typically feed with boats of 15 to 20 people. Our guide, Adrian (sp?), maintained a Minimal Wake speed and watched the horizon. As we passed a small point, we spotted a couple of noses coming out of the water. It turned out to be eight manatees including two cows with calves. Our party of four spent nearly an hour with more manatees than people. It was awesome; my thirteen year old who usually can't climb out of his Ipod long enough to breathe hasn't stopped talking about it for three days.

When the manatees left to feed elsewhere, we climbed back in the boat and proceed to the springs were everyone else had gone originally. In the water were forty people and two manatees; it was laughable. We had about fifteen minutes left, so we cruised around the bay just looking for more noses.

Now this is clearly a hit or miss type business; any tour operator could experience a bad day depending on weather and the mood of the animals. However, there's no question that Adrian's steady, observant approach led to an excellent experience for us.

Visited October 2012
3 Thank PossumBlossum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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270 reviews from our community

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English first
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“AM with larry was awesome”
Reviewed August 31, 2012

He knew where to go, what to look for, he knew about the local birds, took us past a indian ground, found a manatee first 20 mins out. Lil guy swam away before we got in. But seeing him was enough to set our worrys at ease. He took us to a bay where we instantly found a momma manatee, And shortly after a baby came and played with us for 20-30 mins. The tour guide said he wanted to hug us, He said that he has never in 22 years had such a close encounter with what looked like a 2-3 mth old manatee. And the mother was very kind she stayed nearby the entire time. We loved every minute, Would gladly do this again.

Visited August 2012
1 Thank Patrick R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great Little Marine and Tour Provider”
Reviewed July 16, 2012

We keep out boat here when we go scalloping each year, The staff is excellent! They have never let us down. They are helpful and provide all the neccesities for a scalloping trip. The marina is small only 9 slips so reserve early! We have done a manatee tour with them and it was great! The guide was very knowlegable and took the time to introduce us to the manatees and educate us how to behave around them in the water. This was a summer tour when not many manatees are in the area but our guide found a family of them pronto. No wasted time! He also took us to Three Sisters Spring an amazing place! Clear blue water very beautiful.

Visited July 2012
1 Thank bcfm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuliesManateeStore, Owner at Crystal River Watersports, responded to this review, July 18, 2012
Thank you for your commit on our business. We do appriciate your interest and hope to see you again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellevue, Nebraska
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful Manatee Tour”
Reviewed July 6, 2012

We stayed at the Days Inn and Crystal River Water Sports is truly just a few steps out the back of the building. Literally, 100 steps and you are there! The hotel was incredibly accomodating and allowed us a late checkout so we could get cleaned up after the tour. The weather was not cooperating on the day we picked. It was a very gray, rainy, chilly day. However, the rain did clear off so we went ahead with the tour. Our captain was wonderful. Had lots of information about the area, the wildlife that we saw, etc. The manatees were very scarce the day of our tour. Our captain did not ever give up and finally did find a manatee! YAY! We were able to get into the water with the manatee. I cannot tell you what an incredible experience this was. My sons, ages ten and seven say this was the hilite of the trip. This tour company only takes six people on a boat. You get very personalized attention. When we were boating on the river, we saw other tour companies and they had boats that were HUGE. Those boats must have had 30 people on them! First of all, that has got to scare a manatee. Second of all, how on earth would each person get any time in the water with a manatee. I would highly recommend Crystal River Water Sports. Can't wait to go again next time we are in Florida.

Visited June 2012
1 Thank Rachel68005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scarborough, Maine
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“I had a lot of fun”
Reviewed June 18, 2012

Make sure you do this the right time of year. Do your research and find out when the manatees are in the river. As it gets hotter outside the manatees are more likely to go back to the ocean. That being said, we did get to see 2 manatee up close. It took a long time to search for them though. Everyone was getting a bit frustrated. I understand this isn't in the tour companies control, just understand this when you go.

The tour company was great, the area is beautiful and I honestly had a great time. The price wasn't bad so even though I was getting worried I wouldn't see a manatee, it was worth the cost for the boat ride.

I would do this again but I would choose to go during "prime" season instead of the end of "prime" season.

We did get to see some manatees in the protected areas but I've been told when the ocean is cold there are so many manatee in the rivers it's amazing.

Thanks for the great adventure and thanks for not giving up on finding a manatee.

Visited March 2012
2 Thank Chemandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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