In Crystal River, manatee season is in full swing. From November to March each year, hundreds of the gentle aquatic giants make the trek from the cooler waters of the Gulf of Mexico to warmer pristine springs throughout the area. Known as “The Manatee Capital of the World,” the Crystal River’s abundant network of springs along Kings Bay and the Homosassa River remain a constant 72°F, making it the perfect winter spot for the mammals.
The region is also home to the eponymous Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, the only refuge in the country specifically created to protect manatees’ critical habitats. Crystal River and Homosassa are the only places in North America where swimmers can experience an up-close encounter with manatees in the wild, with an increased opportunity for more encounters during manatee season, which ends March 31, 2021.
“Whether it’s your first time, or you get to swim with them every day, a manatee encounter is amazing,” said John Pricher, director of Discover Crystal River. “As travelers are seeking safe, outdoor experiences to enjoy with their close friends and families, we believe they will find the Crystal River area to be just the right place to make that happen.”
This year, local tour companies have made safety a top priority for passengers and as well as manatees. Many outfitters are offering semi-private and private boat tours, and carefully cleaning all swim and snorkel gear to ensure visitors have the safest, most rewarding underwater experience possible. For the gentle giants, all tour companies are educated to be stewards for the manatees, making sure swimmers, paddlers and boaters adhere to the rules and stay outside designated sanctuary areas.
Plan your trip and learn more about manatee season at DiscoverCrystalRiver.com.