Crystal River is a small community located on Florida's Gulf
Coast about 80 miles north of Tampa. It has a lot to offer,
but it is widely known as THE place to see manatee. The near
constant temperatures of the spring-fed river makes it a
winter haven for these warm-blooded gentle giants. There are
multiple companies that offer up-close encounters with the
manatee, so it's usually easy to find someone to
Being near the coast with deep water access, Crystal river
is also a fisherman's paradise. There are numerous places to
put a boat in the water, and from what I understand, the
fishing is great. Both fresh water and salt water fish can
be caught here.
Of course seafood is abundant here. There are several
restaurants that can serve up the catch of the day, and do a
very good job of it.
While visiting Crystal River, we stayed at
Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park. Most of the sites here are
privately owned, but there are still quite a few available
for rent. This place is quite different than many other RV
parks of this type. It's very homey and non-commercial
feeling. And even though many of the sites host full-timers,
it doesn't have that "trailer park" feel. In fact, this is
one of those places I could see retiring to myself, at least
part of the year.
Entry Date: December 2017
This trip was a Christmas present for the kids (and
ourselves). We left the day after Christmas and drove all
the way to Crystal River, Florida. Crystal river was the
first stop of the trip, and the most memorable. The drive
down was long, and when we reached Rock Crusher RV Park, we
were tired and ready to relax. We walked around the park
some, enjoying the relatively warm weather. We also checked
out the pool, enclosed and heated with a large screen TV.
Very nice and impeccably clean.
We had a boat and guides reserved at the
Plantation at Crystal River
for December 27, and thankfully,
the forecast was for partly cloudy skies and 75 degrees. We
chose an afternoon dive hoping it might be warmer than an
early morning dive. We were traveling with friends, and our
party was 11. That justified having our own boat, and I'm so
glad we did. Our captain/Guide was Ed Menster, and he really
knows his stuff. We actually had two guides on the boat with
us, but Ed was the one that got in the water and led us to
the manatee. If we go back, we'll ask for him.
Plantation's dive shop provides all the dive gear including
wet suits, and they are pretty necessary because 72 degree
water is a little chilly to us southerners. Also included on
the boat was coffee and hot chocolate, and we enjoyed it
immensely. Ed spoke with a couple of the returning captains
to find out where the best places were on that day to see
manatee. We went straight to a great spot, and when we got
in the water we saw one almost immediately. The pictures
tell the rest of the story. We did take our GoPro camera and
took lots of video, but the best pictures and video were
from Ed. He documents the entire dive, and you can purchase
a thumb drive that contains all the media back at the dive
shop. It's very much worth it!
In summary, we lucked out with the weather and had a very
pleasant time. It was exciting to see the manatee up close.
We have to mark this one down as one of our favorite
experiences. We'd do it again in a heartbeat!
We were pretty tired after the adventure. There's just
something about being on a boat and the exercise of diving
that wears you out. Our big plans of raiding the pool at
Rock Crusher fell to the side as we enjoyed watching a movie
in the camper.