Plantation Dive Shop

9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429
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800-632-6262

1 Review

    

Age Recommendation

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  • Animals, Beaches & Lakes, Guided Tours
  • https://www.plantationoncrystalri...
  • Description

    The Plantation on Crystal River's Adventure Center is the best waterside full-service marina and dive shop facility, offering everything from slips for guests of our resort hotel, boat rentals, boat ramp and charter options with some of the area's best captains for fishing, birding, sightseeing, diving and manatee tours. Located on...

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1 Review of Plantation Dive Shop

Snorkel With The Manatee

    
- March 2014

Swimming with the Manatees at the Plantation on Crystal River is something you do not want to miss out on. Especially since this is one of the only places in North America where you can legally swim and observe this endangered species. Swimming with the gentle giants, touching them and experiencing their life in the water is truly amazing.  

Our tour started early on a cold March morning.  We arrived at the Plantation Dive Shop at 7:15am for our 7:30am tour.  I was surprised to see a crowd waiting in line that early for a snorkeling tour.  I asked the Dive Shop staff why we needed to leave so early in the morning and the gentleman who checked us in said that it was the best time to see the manatees.  He also said that we were lucky that it was chilly outside because the chilly temperatures cause the manatee to gather in the warmer waters.  The average temperature of the water in Kings Bay, where we embarked on our snorkeling adventure, is 69 to 74 degree during manatee season. After we checked in they gave us our gear and wetsuits.  My boys, age 6 and 8, were snorkeling with my husband and I.  I was pleasantly surprised that the dive shop had wetsuits, fins, snorkels and masks that fit my boys. Next, we went into the heated restrooms and changed into our gear.  Everything fit perfectly and we were on our way.

Our Captain, Captain John, was amazing.  He helped all of us on the boat and was very knowledgable about the manatees and the area we were touring.  While we were riding to our destination he gave us a brief rundown of Kings Bay, the manatees and what to expect when swimming with them.  Once we arrived to our destination and were in the water, the manatee literally surrounded us.  It was such an extraordinary experience. There were several manatee bumping into us but, the mommy and baby manatee that liked to floss their teeth on our boat’s ropes had my complete attention.  It was such a sweet and truly breathtaking moment .  

Next, we traveled up to Three Sisters Springs.  This is where the manatee like to hang out when it is really cold outside as the springs keep the water at a constant 72 degrees.  We visited the springs during low tide.  We “ran” into a manatee at the mouth of the springs but because of low tide and the strong current there were no manatee at the springs. Still it was a beautiful and warm snorkeling experience.  We saw several fish, a water bird, vegetation and the water bubbling up from the springs. It was a ton of fun and great experience just observing the beauty of the springs.  

Once our adventure was over, we all got back onto our boat, dried off with the towels that were provided for us and enjoyed some complimentary hot coffee and tea.  This is a family adventure that I truly recommend!

A few tips:
Make sure your kids are strong swimmers and used to snorkeling.
Bring extra large towels, for the kids, at least, because it can get chilly on the boat.  It is enclosed which keeps it warmer inside but, it still can get a bit chilly.
Wear boat shoes. We had a lot of water on the floor of our boat which caused things to get slippery.  
Try to put your towels and such in a waterproof bag so they don’t get wet.
You and/or your kids can stay in the boat.  You don’t have to go into the water but, when snorkeling at Three Sisters you will not be able to see the boat.  My boys were done snorkeling by the time we arrived at the Springs so we left them on the boat in the care of one of the ladies we met on the tour.
If you are staying at the Plantation on Crystal River make sure to extend your check-out time.  Our tour ended at 11am so we had to hurry back to extend our check-out.
Bring some extra cash to tip the Captain.
Have fun!

Disclosure: This review is my own and based on a complimentary stay, meals and swimming tour at the Plantation on Crystal River, Florida.   The Plantation and tour guides did not require that I express a particular point of view.