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Crystal Bay - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Nearest City: Crystal River, FL
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: Tom Sjoberg

Description:

It was February; the weather was cool, cool enough to wear a small windbreaker. I had heard that the manatees were out and running in Crystal River, Florida. Since I only lived a short distance away in Orlando, I thought that getting out on the water early would be a chance to see these "Gentle Giants." I started out from Orlando at approximately 4am and arrived just around sunup. I pulled into a small dive shop on the main strip in Crystal River and was told about an island where I could paddle my kayak and have a good chance to see a manatee or two.

I put my kayak in and was at the island in about 30 minutes. As I approached the area, I heard a loud noise about 20 yards off my port bow. It startled me and I looked to see the snout of one of the largest creatures I believe I have ever seen while kayaking. I made my way over to the area and with mask and snorkel and camera in hand, I dove in and proceeded to get my first glimpse of Florida up close. Being my first time snorkeling around manatees, I was a bit apprehensive, but swam around hoping to get a picture or two. At that very moment a manatee came up beside me and nudged my arm. I must have swallowed half the river at that moment. This "Gentle Giant" was the largest mammal I had ever seen. I didn't have time to snap a picture, just try to stay calm while choking on the untasty river that I had just swallowed. Another manatee was not far off my other side and I just stared at how beautiful these two huge creatures of the waters were. I swam around them - not touching or bothering them but just observing.

I left that day with a whole new respect for Florida, and the Manatee. Oh, sorry, never did get any pictures, I was just too caught up in the moment. Will go again next year. This time for the picture.

Accommodations:

There are motel and Hotels in Inverness.

Fees:

I was not aware of any fees or permits, but if you are snorkeling you will need to post a diving flag on your kayak or boat while your under.

Directions:

From Orlando, take the Florida Turnpike (north) to Hwy 44 toward Inverness, Florida. Take Hwy 44 to Hwy 19 and go North appoximately 7-10 miles and your in Crystal River. Just ask around and all the local townsfolk will tell you how to get to the islands.

Resources:

There are plenty of maps and books at any leading bookstore.


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