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Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Tours
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Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour

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Crystal River, United States

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Select Date and Travelers

Number of travelers
2 Adults3 Adults4 Adults5 Adults6 Adults
Free Cancellation
up to 24 hours in advance
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icon4 hours  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds

Keeping you safe during COVID-19
What you can expect during your visit
Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
Social distancing enforced throughout experience
Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
Gear/equipment sanitized between use
Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
Guides required to regularly wash hands
More questions?
(888) 651-9785

Overview

Swim with the manatees on a half-day pontoon boat tour of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, a marine refuge designed to protect the threatened Florida manatee. Learn about the fascinating marine mammals on a tour designed for spotting manatees without disturbing them or disrupting their habitat, and explore a scenic Florida ecosystem. This small-group experience is limited to six people for personalized service, and all equipment, entrance fees, water and hot drinks, and snacks are included.
  • See native wildlife in their natural environment
  • Family friendly
  • Fully narrated tour
  • Choose to dive in and swim with manatees if you spot them
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Use of equipment (mask, snorkel gear and wet suit)
Beverages (bottled water, coffee and hot chocolate)
Professional guide
Introductory/instructional video offered in English, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish
Gratuities
Food and beverages (unless otherwise specified)
Photo DVD (available to purchase)
Towel and swimsuit

Departure Point

498 SE Kings Bay Dr, Crystal River, FL 34429, USA

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
Make your way to a departure point in Crystal River, where you’ll meet a Coast Guard Certified Master Captain who will share your itinerary, as well as guidelines for snorkeling with the manatees.

Suit up in a wetsuit, then board a covered pontoon boat for the trip into Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. During the winter months, the pontoon boat cabin will be fully-enclosed and heated, and drinks will be available throughout the cruise.

Manatees aren’t the only thing to see in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, so as you cruise the Crystal River, watch for birds, fish, and other wildlife. If manatees are spotted, slip into the water with your snorkeling gear to see what’s beneath the surface. While sighting the wild animals can’t be guaranteed, the best chance to see them is in colder weather, when they cluster in the reserve’s warmer, sheltered water.

An underwater photographer will join you throughout the tour, and if desired, you’ll have the option to purchase DVDs or digital photographs of your experience. This tour concludes at the original departure point in Crystal River.
Itinerary
Stop At:  
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Enjoy the unique privilege that is exclusively ours here in Citrus County Florida by swimming with the manatees in the spring-fed King’s Bay Wildlife Refuge! Crystal River is home to the world’s largest population of endangered manatee during the winter season, and even a small population the warm months. Having the chance to encounter these wild giants in their natural habitat is an adventure that your family will never forget!
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
Embark on your journey with a Coast Guard Certified Master Captain who will be your in water chaperon, educator and photographer. Your tour will run four hours from start to finish and everything you will need is included for one price. You will begin at our full-service tour facility, where you will be educated about the animals in a classroom type setting and receive tips for your snorkel tour to make the most of your day. You will be taught the in’s and out’s of ‘passive interaction’ as this ensures that the animals enjoy the experience as much as we do! You will then be suited up and transported to the dock, where a Coast Guard certified covered pontoon will be waiting for you. This rich estuary will amaze…..birds, fish and wildlife abound! Submerge yourself in the manatee’s world! Finish your adventure by viewing your Captain’s photos back at our facility and be sure to visit our one-of-a-kind gift shop! Our well-informed staff will direct to other local attractions, restaurants and answer of your questions before you are on your way.
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
River Ventures - Homosassa
It is very important to have realistic expectations when it comes to a wild animal encounter! Every trip is different and the experience is unique for each individual. In the cooler weather the animals migrate to this area and congregate here for the protection of the warm water springs; when the weather warms they can move about going wherever they want! The early mornings tend to be the best time to find the animals and best chance of seeing them near the springs where the water tends to be more clear. Remember it is very simple, cold weather = many manatee; warmer weather=lower manatee counts and more time looking for these endangered animals. Even seeing a few manatee is a phenomenal adventure!
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Adult pricing applies to all travelers
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Wetsuits are available in sizes from toddlers (2 years old and up) to adults up to 5X
  • It is advised that you have your swimsuit on underneath your clothes for a quicker check-in
  • Please bring a towel and a plastic bag to hold your belongings
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Children Under 3 years old are not allowed on this tour. Please call for other options.
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Post COVID-19 Policy- We are mindful to thoroughly clean water vehicles between visitors.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 6 travelers
  • OPERATED BY River Ventures

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What is the policy on sanitization during Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour?
A:
The policies on sanitization are:

  • Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
See all safety measures taken by Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour.
Q:
What is the social distancing policy during Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour?
A:
The policy on social distancing is:

  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
See all safety measures taken by Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour.
Q:
What measures are being taken to ensure staff health & safety during Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour?
A:
The policy on staff health & safety is:

  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
See all safety measures taken by Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour.
Q:
What is the maximum group size during Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour?
A:
This activity will have a maximum of 6 travelers.

See all safety measures taken by Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour.

Traveler Photos

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Reviews

5.0
star-5
327 Reviews
2 stars
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Reviews by Viator travelers
Showing 1-10 of 327 reviews
star-5
Ultimate Manatee Experience
Jeri
, Oct 2020
Every aspect of the River Venture experience was excellent! We enjoyed a friendly briefing, with a useful information video. The premises are clean and inviting. Captain Mike and our guide JJ were so attentive and fun!! We love the area and will be back soon with our grandchildren!!
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star-5
Family time with the Manatees
Mark_O
, Jun 2020
Captain (Gavin) and photographer (Matt) were great..... spent time hanging out with a “teenage manatee” who only stopped eating to catch a breath..... then saw a very large cow...... Spent the rest of our time checking out the area. Very cool! Our family definitely would recommend this adventure!
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star-5
Amazing! Our guides were patient...
Cherie T
, Jan 2018
Amazing! Our guides were patient with us and respectful of the animals. it was a magical experience!
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star-5
Superd day out with the team. Really...
Miranda T
, Sep 2017
Superd day out with the team. Really great fun and informative. 100 recommended for all ages.
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star-5
I would highly recommend this tour...
Kyle
, Jul 2017
I would highly recommend this tour. I went with my two boys and my old man and we all loved it. We had Tanner as our skipper and Irish Dave as our diver. Being Scottish, it was awesome to have a translator on board in Irish Dave for when Tanner couldn't make out our accent, :P! Summer time isn't ideal to do this tour due to the Manatee being out in the gulf and other places, winter would be much better where there are literally thousands that call this river home. However, we got lucky and found a roughly 2000lb manatee before any of the other tours and got a 20 minute spell with it to ourselves. Was simply amazing for a wildlife enthusiast. Visiting the springs that produce crystal clear water was also beautiful. Would definitely do again, just at the winter time.
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star-5
My wife and I were traveling with...
David G
, Apr 2017
My wife and I were traveling with our two adult kids. It was raining and cloudy, but we were getting wet anyways. The crew was friendly and accommodating. Found these gentle creatures fascinating. Seeing them come into your range of vision is very exciting. Thanks for the memories.
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star-5
We had such a great time on the...
Gay C
, Feb 2017
We had such a great time on the Manatee tour. We wanted a small group and they only had 4 people on this tour. Well worth a little extra money. We went to several spots to view and snorkel with the Manatees. They are such cool animals and we certainly got an up close encounter. The captain and first mate gave us lots of interesting information about the local area and we got a tour of the canals on the way back to the store. The store had tons of T-shirts, pictures and other types of souvenirs for reasonable prices and now all of our friends want to go.
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star-5
I can't even begin to tell you what...
Colleen E
, Jan 2017
I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing experience this was. We encountered a Manatee within 10 minutes and interacted with over 10 of them. But my day, and perhaps even my entire year was made when one of them swam right up to my face and got so close I thought it was going to kiss me!
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star-5
Very friendly and welcoming staff at...
Mark A
, Aug 2016
Very friendly and welcoming staff at centre, Amanda and Capt John Stark were fantastic and made it an experience that we wont forget and enjoyed immensely. The photos taken by Amanda were brilliant and a great memento of the morning. Well worth getting up early for the first tour of the day.
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star-5
Great Captain and in-the-water guide...
Christine Y
, Jul 2016
Great Captain and in-the-water guide. Very knowledgeable and pleasant.
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Product code: 7336P13

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