Kayak trips in Crystal River almost always guarantee that you will see Florida manatees. Dubbed the Manatee Capital of the World, Crystal River plays host to hundreds of manatees that congregate in the warm, spring-fed waters of Kings Bay during the winter to help them survive the cold. Although manatees can be found up and down the coast of Florida, Homosassa and Crystal River stand alone as the only places where people can legally get into the water, see and interact with manatees. And because the water is always warm in Crystal River, there are several resident manatees on Crystal River throughout the year making it possible to always see manatees when you kayak on the river.
So do we always get to see manatees on the kayak trips?
Yes. Crystal River has manatees throughout the year so you most definitely will see them on your kayak trips. However, it may take hours and several stops in multiple springs to find the manatees. For instance, during summer months when the number of manatees in the springs drops drastically, you may spend a long time and kayak a greater distance before you find manatees. But manatees are easier to find in the springs during winter because they congregate in the warm waters. So as you kayak in Crystal River, it is important to search patiently for the animals in the lagoons and coves even when it is taking longer than expected.
While manatees can be seen in Crystal River at any time, the chance of seeing them is higher on colder days or during the winter season than in the summer. Kayaking in Crystal River during the months of November to March will ensure that you see at least one manatee in every outing. Beyond March, the number of manatees in the springs begins to fall significantly and it may be hit or miss, but there are still quite a few resident manatees in the river that you may see. Likewise, since manatees tend to start moving very early in the morning, you should get up and launch your kayak early. An early morning tour will enable you to find manatees quickly and easily just as they begin to graze on the river’s vegetation.
Even though kayaking in Crystal River allows you to experience manatees at your own pace, you need to get a stable and comfortable kayak from a reputable provider in order to have a safe and fruitful outing. The kayak provider also should give you access to a launch site. You also will need a map and good gear to help you locate and navigate Three Sisters Springs, Hunter Spring, King Spring or the off-limit Manatee Protection Zones. A reliable local company such as Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy can provide you with a map and all the gear you may need to stay longer in the water. With a wetsuit to keep you warm, a pool noodle to keep you buoyant, flippers to keep you moving and a snorkel and mask to protect your eyes when face down in water looking for manatees, you will have a thrilling and unforgettable experience.
Slow down inside manatee habitats
Once your kayak is inside areas where manatee sightings have been reported, it is important to slow down. Operating at slow speeds will give manatees plenty of time to get to the water surface so you can see them. It is also easier to locate manatees when you move slowly through the springs. Signs of manatee presence that you should look for include glimpses of the head, large tail or rounded back of the manatees as they roll and surface, a row of circles on the water surface created by the round tail of a manatee in motion, and a snout breaking the water surface as a manatee breathes. Wearing polarized sunglasses can make it easier for you to see manatees resting or grazing below the water.
Seeing and interacting with a Florida manatee is an emotional and exciting experience. The large lumbering giants are an awesome sight that will dazzle your imagination. At Captain Mike’s, we give visitors to Florida the best chance of observing and swimming with these gentle animals by offering safe, stable and comfortable kayaks. Our kayaks are designed to meet the needs of all classes of outdoor enthusiasts, whether beginners or experienced, small budget or large budget. So if you are looking for a top-quality kayak to use on Crystal River, just get in touch with us to rent one at a competitive price. For more information on kayaking and swimming with manatees in Crystal River, visit the “Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy” site.