Winter Manatee Getaway to Crystal River

Plan a winter trip to the "manatee capital of the world" to experience the region's preservation areas and swim with the gentle giants

Image courtesy of NOAA via Unsplash.

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.

The Plantation on Crystal River created a new one-night package offering guests the chance to enter the underwater world of the West Indian Manatee. The riverfront resort in Crystal River is offering the new Swim with the Manatees package starting at $299 for two guests. For more information about Plantation on Crystal River or the Adventure Center & Dive Shop, visit Plantation on Crystal River or call 800-632-6262.

Plan your trip and learn more about manatee season at

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