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Kayaking to the Manatees at Crystal River

Violet Sky at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida
Violet Sky at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida

One of the most popular places to see manatees in the wild is in Crystal River, Florida. Kayaking to see the manatees is a memorable trip. Watching these majestic creatures is an amazing experience. Not only are they so cute but they also are so graceful to watch them swim.


Manatees have been flocking to the inland springs of the Florida coasts for centuries. Especially in the winter time they seek refuge in the warmer waters for the chilly months. The area is home to the second largest springs in the state following behind Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee.

For decades tourists have been coming to the area to see if they can catch of glimpse of the sea cows. The city of Crystal River and various preservation groups have sought to dedicate certain areas to manatee sanctuaries. Over 400 manatees are estimated to pilgrimage to these springs each winter.

Three Sisters Springs were opened to the public in 2010 and are usually open during the late fall and winter months.

Violet Sky’s Visit

Kayaking to the Manatees at Crystal River was something I had been wanting to do for awhile. I visited the springs in late December and was able to catch a glimpse of several manatees. The kayak ride was nice and provided for an outdoor afternoon adventure. To access Three Sisters Springs by water I launched my kayak at Hunter Springs Park. There are so many springs that you could spend an entire day kayaking and snorkeling.

My favorite spot was once we got to Three Sisters Springs. There is a rope you cannot cross since the spring is a dedicate manatee sanctuary but you can watch from the edge. I would definitely recommend visiting during the day when the sun is shining. The sun helps to brighten up the water so you have a better chance of seeing the manatees underneath.

How to Visit

There are several places that you can launch your boat from when visiting Crystal River. If you do not have a kayak, there are boat rentals and tours that will take you around the springs as well. Watch for boats and other kayakers as the water ways can get very busy especially around the holidays.

To access the springs by land or to have the best chance of seeing manatees you should visit during late November to March. This time frame will give you the best opportunity to see a manatee in the wild.

Thanks for reading and as always, keep on truckin’!

-Violet Sky

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