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Itinerary

Make your own way to a designated meeting point,  where your Coast Guard Certified Master Captain will share the day’s itinerary and go over rules for snorkeling with the manatees. Slip on a wetsuit and board a covered pontoon boat (in the winter, it’s fully enclosed and heated).

As you slowly enter into the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, keep an eye out for birds, fish, and other wildlife who call the area home. If manatees are spotted, you can slip into the water with them, staying at a respectful distance all the while.

The best time to see the manatees is in the winter when they cluster in the warmer upstream waters of the reserve. An underwater photographer snaps shots throughout the day, and you can purchase photos or DVDs of your experience once back at the Manatee Center.

Locations visited
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
Overview

On this quintessential Florida adventure, you'll observe the endangered West Indian Manatee in Florida’s Kings Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Cruise the Crystal River in a luxury pontoon boat that is fully enclosed and heated during winter (the best time to see the manatees). This small-group experience is designed to view the animals without disturbing them. Plus, if manatees are spotted, you'll slip on your fins and snorkel and swim alongside them. 

Highlights
  • See and swim with manatees if they're spotted
  • Ride in a luxury pontoon boat that's heated in winter 
  • Fully narrated tour reveals little-known info 
  • A small group ensures personalized attention
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1 - 5 of 55 reviews
Reviewed 2 weeks ago
love the manatee

I love water and Manatee. This is the best of both worlds. with everything provided I was in heaven.

Thank Jimmy W
Reviewed 8 August 2018
The highlight of our trip!

We took the VIP tour with Heidi and Captain Wade, we loved it. It was such a personalized experience for us as a family. We have 2 young girls, 6 and 3 yo and both had a wonderful time. It wasn't the height of the...More

1  Thank hk123_10
Reviewed 4 July 2018
Amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

My family visited Crystal River with the hope of swimming with manatees, but knowing that we may not because of the time of year. Well, this tour with Captain Laura, Sheena and Gavin, was by far the highlight of our vacation! The whole crew was...More

1  Thank vivkidd
Reviewed 20 June 2018
Unique Manatee Encounter!

Top 5 Comments about the trip: 1. Don't be discouraged about "manatee off season"; I went June 19th & John Stark was an expert boat captain with a keen eye for tracking down these amazing mammals and getting us up close to observe them in...More

4  Thank smirk009
RiverVentures, Manager at River Ventures - Homosassa, responded to this reviewResponded 22 June 2018

Ok, OK Gregory, we don't know who you are......but you are definitely part of our 'wacky tribe'! What a beautiful, descriptive and helpful review.....in fact it may be one of my favorite of all time!! You describe Ms. Jodi as a wizard who can control...More

Reviewed 17 June 2018
Best part of our vacation!

We took the Semi-Private VIP Manatee Tour with Heidi and John a few days ago. Per the recommendation of the staff, we booked an early morning tour to allow us a good chance to see manatees during the off-season. From the moment we stepped in...More

Thank Christine S
RiverVentures, Manager at River Ventures - Homosassa, responded to this reviewResponded 22 June 2018

Thank you for taking the time to reach out with this awesome review!! A few things you mentioned are worth highlighting for future visitors...like the early morning wakeup call. Yes, it's early, but it is worth it and we have coffee on by 5:30am! We...More

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Questions & Answers
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Jodie M
5 April 2018|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Dave F | Reviewed this property |
They give you three options on the photos, around $27 for the disc, $34 for the USB, and around $40 for the on-line album. They also provide floating aids for everyone in the water, no extra charge.
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