Crystal River Canoeing

Crystal River Canoeing

Crystal River, Florida offers a plethora of things to do for families and water/nature enthusiasts. This post will focus on Crystal River Canoeing and how to spend a day on the water.

We recently spent a socially distanced day in Crystal River, canoeing King’s Bay and visiting Three Sisters & Hunter Springs.

King’s Bay

Crystal River, FL is an hour and a half north of Tampa and an hour and a half west of Orlando. The state of Florida offers more than 700 springs with a year round temperature of a balmy 68-72 degrees.

What makes visiting the springs in Crystal River so special is that it’s the only place in Florida that you can legally swim with the manatees.

How to spend a day on the water

We started our day at Crystal River Kayak Company & Dive Center which is the closest entry point to Three Sisters Springs.

  1. You have to make a reservation with Crystal River Kayak Company.
  2. All children 6 and under are required to wear life vest while in the vessel. (life vest are included in rental)
Crystal River Kayak Co & Dive Center
Crystal River Kayak Co & Dive Center

We canoed for about 15 minutes before reaching Three Sisters Springs. If you are looking for a socially distant day on the water, then I highly recommend going to Three Sisters Springs in the morning. It gets pretty busy in the afternoon and you will have a hard time maintaining safe distances from others.

After spending some time enjoying Three Sisters Springs we canoed to Hunter Springs. There, you will find a beach area which we found to be the perfect place to take a break from canoeing. Atlas played in the sand and some of us went snorkeling. We ate lunch and took bathroom breaks in the facilities on the shore.

Map of King's Bay canoe route
Map of our King’s Bay canoe route

Nature and Wildlife

We saw fish, turtles, blue crabs, birds and manatees! We did not swim with the manatees but will certainly be going back to specifically do so!

The manatees we saw were sporadic throughout the bay and we would only see them momentarily surface for water. While canoeing, we did pass by a group of swimmers floating on noodles with their tour guide who were watching a pregnant manatee.

You can spot manatees year round in the Florida waterways but the peak season is November – April. It’s not unheard of, but generally the manatees only go into the springs during peak season because of the favorable water temperatures during the “winter”.

It is crucial to respect the manatees and educate yourself on how to keep them safe. We saw several motor boats going too fast in the no speeding zones which can cause a direct injury to the manatees.

Manatees are the most gentle animals in the water. It is recommended but not necessary to take manatee dive tours so that your tour guide can regulate safety measures.

This video explains everything you need know about the Crystal River manatees & their protection.

What to pack for a day on the water

  • Cooler – cold drinks, lunch and snacks
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Water shoes (not necessary, but helpful)
  • Snorkel gear
  • Underwater camera
  • Hats
  • Plastic bag to hold anything you wouldn’t want to risk getting wet
Hunter Springs

Things to do in Crystal River

You certainly don’t have to canoe the river, there are plenty of other options!

  • Clear bottom canoes
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Board
  • Boating
  • Guided Tours
  • Scalloping
  • Fishing
  • Swim with manatees
  • Diving & snorkeling
  • For land access to Three Sisters Springs and tours, visit this link.
Three Sisters Springs

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(This is not sponsored content and the views and opinions expressed are my own.



2 thoughts on “Crystal River Canoeing”

  • Love this! The water looks beautiful, and I had no idea that you could even swim with manatees. Thank you for explaining manatee safety so people could be more educated. I have friends that were born and raised in Florida, and they had no idea it was illegal to touch a sea turtle. I hope to do this kayak trip one day. Thanks for sharing!

    • I know, right! Yeah I’m super passionate about protecting our sea life and I’m so glad you found this useful! <3

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