Crystal River is a small town in the Florida panhandle. It’s known mostly for its crystal clear spring that feeds into the river, which is why it’s called Crystal River. You know, like “crystal” and “river.” The crystal part comes from how clear it is (hence the name), and the river part comes from the fact that it flows swiftly through town.
About 300,000 tourists visit the crystal river every year. During pandemic the numbers went down sharply due to imposed restriction on the tourist spots. As the situation starts to improve, many people gathering there again.
So, before going to explore the beautiful Crystal River and its crystal clear springs, you should know some information. There are some rules that is imposed by the US government to protect the ecosystem. Let’s learn them quickly and become a promoter of the nature.
How to Navigate to Crystal River?
Once you’ve decided to kayak in the Crystal River, it’s time to start planning your trip. You can reach there by road or by air. Follow the Google map to reach your favorite destination. Check the link below for the Crystal River and its other locations.
If you are planning to go there by air, choose Tampa International Airport which is the nearest to the Crystal River. It is almost one and a half-hour drive to the Crystal River kayaking area from the airport.
If you are local in Florida, you might know how to get there. I am considering that you are new to the Crystal River for kayaking that is why here is the link to get the right direction.
- Direction of Crystal River from Tampa International Airport
- Hunter Springs Park location
- Kings Bay Park location
Things to know before you go Crystal River
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. You could easily spend an entire day in a kayak, so it’s important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun.
Wear a life jacket. While paddling around the river in a kayak might seem like a very low-risk activity, there are still many things that could go wrong.
If you happen to tip over or run aground on some rocks, having your life jacket on will help prevent drowning or severe injury until help arrives.
Bring waterproof camera equipment with you! Even if you have an expensive camera that isn’t water resistant, there are plenty of waterproof cases available online or at local stores (such as CVS) that allow you to take photos while on your trip through the Florida springs.*
Pack everything into dry bags! The river isn’t always calm and flat like it appears in pictures – sometimes there are strong currents that can carry away even experienced kayakers who were just minding their own business trying not get too close to those manatees swimming nearby.
So make sure everything has been safely secured inside one of these handy dandy little pouches before hitting open waters! Otherwise all those precious memories may end up being lost forever down stream rather than captured within frames where they belong – like this one here:
Crystal river outfitters
There are many companies that offer kayaking trips in and around Crystal River include:
- Crystal River Kayak Center (CRK) offers two-hour guided tours on the Wekiva River each Saturday morning from 9:00am – 1:00pm; these tours are a great way to see some of Central Florida’s natural beauty without too much effort involved! The guides at CRK will take care of everything so all you have to do is relax while learning about our environment through stories told by those who work there.”
- Crystal River Kayak Company
- Crystal River Canoe and Kayak, which offers guided canoeing trips on the Suwannee and Alapaha Rivers.
- The local outfitters Florida Sports & Outdoors, which also rents boats for fishing or sightseeing. Located just up the road from CRKC is Florida Sports & Outdoors’ sister company – Adventures in Paradise. This company has been around since 1984 and focuses on activities such as fishing charters, river cruises, wildlife tours, snorkeling trips and more!
Crystal River kayaking area map
There are different hotels, restaurants, and other facilities there. If you come from a long distance you can stay near the Crystal River. What you need all are available there 24/7. Here is the Google map link. Check and plan before you go there.
Where should you launch your kayak in the Crystal River area?
There are two kayak launching areas for Crystal River kayaking. You can launch your kayak either from Hunter Springs Park or Kings Bay Park. The Hunter Springs Park is famous in the Crystal River area. It is a beautiful place and you can do many things there like swimming, snorkeling, diving, and drifting. It is the closest location to launch your kayak for Three Sisters Springs. Launching a kayak could cost about 5 dollars and 5 dollars for a vehicle parking for the whole day.
Kings Bay Park is another nice and beautiful palace to launch the kayak. They allow the public to launch a kayak and park their vehicle. For each of the services, you have to pay 5 dollars as like as the Hunter Springs Park.
Are there any restaurants or other accommodation facilities?
Yes, there are several restaurants, hotels, parking areas, washrooms, and shops. You can stay there for a couple of nights and explore the whole area.
How much is the kayak rental price in the Crystal River area?
There are several rental services available there. Most of them offer kayak rental for 2 to 3 hours duration for 4.5 miles distance kayaking or more. They have charts on different hours and kayak configurations. You can choose according to your requirement or how much time you want to spend on water and spring areas.
If you don’t want to spend much time on the water and just want to see the springs for a couple of minutes and return to the launching area, you can choose the lowest one. Here are the average price lists for different type of kayaks so that you can get an idea of how the price could be:
Type of kayak
Sit on top single kayak
35 to 40 dollars
55 to 70 dollars
70 to 75 dollars
45 to 50 dollars
Personal boat shuttle
These rates depend on how much time you want to spend on the water. The more you want to spend on the water the more you have to pay for it.
Where is the best place to kayak with manatees?
If you want to see manatees, then Crystal River is the place for you. The river runs through a manatee sanctuary and refuge, so it’s no wonder that these gentle giants are attracted to this part of Florida for wintering.
Crystal River is also home to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This park is known for its underwater caves that feature thousands of fish and other aquatic life as well as many different types of birds and reptiles such as crocodiles!
You’ll surely see something interesting while exploring its 130 acres which are located right next door to where our kayaks are parked at Homosassa Springs Outpost Canoe Rentals & Sales Center on US 19 South in Crystal River (about 10 minutes away).
Can you kayak with manatees?
You can, but you cannot kayak a manatee. You must be in a kayak with a manatee. This makes sense if you think about it: A manatee is an aquatic mammal that spends its time in the water and therefore cannot be in one place while you are on land.
If you were to try to force a manatee onto your vessel by yourself, it would likely become agitated or frightened enough to stop breathing altogether (which could lead to death).
Instead of attempting such an endeavor yourself, I suggest finding someone who understands how this works so that they may guide you through the process of sharing space with these fascinating creatures.
What is the best time to see manatees?
If you’re interested in seeing manatees, the best time to go is from December through March. This is when they are most active. You may also see them in the summer and fall, but they will be much less active during these times of year.
Other than being a great spot for wildlife watching, Crystal River Kayaking has plenty of other activities for your group to enjoy! We offer kayak rentals and tours as well as snorkeling trips. If you want more information about any of these things or if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact us today!
Manatee rules and regulation by US fish and wildlife service
According to the proposed regulations §370.12(2), F.S. there are some prohibitions to protect the manatees that are under threat. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWC) recommended reclassifying the manatee from endangered to threatened. The FWC also recommended modifying the previous A-regulation (Rule 68A-27.003, F.A.C and Rule 68A-27.004, F.A.C) to include a new Item to protect the manatee. Let’s see what those recommendations are:
- You are not allowed to annoy, molest or harass them.
- You are not allowed to disturb them by any means
- Feeding them any type of food is prohibited
- It is unlawful to injure or harm them by any means.
- Any attempt to capture, collect, or hunt is prohibited.
- Killing, processing, or selling manatees or manatee parts are prohibited.
- Any activities (punching, separating a calf from a mother or group of manatees, standing or touching them) will be considered as disturbing or annoying them.
So, be kind to nature and its species and let them their way. Your respect for nature will help to bring you a significant benefit to our future generation as well as the whole of mankind.
We hope that this blog has helped you answer some of your questions about the crystal river kayaking trip. If you have any more questions or if you just want to say hi, feel free to reach out! We’d love to hear from you!