|Location:||Crystal River, Florida, USA
Crystal River is a typical holiday village, located in the middle of the Nature Coast on the west coast of Florida about 80 miles from Tampa, Orlando and Gainesville on US 19
In the beginning of November, the season hadn't started yet and therefore it was very calm, but if you plan to be there during the manatee season, it's probably a good idea to make a reservation in advance.
|Time:||9. - 10. November 1997|
|Weather:||Beautiful but rather cold (15°C / 59°F)|
|Water:||22°C / 72°F, a 3-5 mm suit is OK.|
|Visibility from 3 to 30 meters|
|Hotel:||Best Western Crystal River
Middleclass hotel located directly at Kings Bay right across the dive base. Rooms, Beds and Pool were ok. There is a small cafe between the hotel and the river and there are 2 restaurants in walking distance.
In 1997 we paid 50 USD (with AAA discount) per night for a double room and 3 persons.
|Diving:||Divebase: Crystal Lodge Dive Center
We only booked a skin diving (snorkelling) tour, that was very well guided and really exciting.
The staff was very friendly and helpful, maybe because there were only few divers.
We booked the snorkelling tour to make sure that we would really get to see some Manatees.
But the dive base also rents tanks, weights and small boats to those, who want to explore Kings Bay on their own.
We didn't need rental equipment and dive courses.
|UW Photo / Video
If possible, use a wide angle lens to make sure that you can take pictures of whole Manatees (because they are are rather big ;-)
As long as you are snorkelling close to the surface, you fortunately won't need a strobe, because Manatees apparently don't really like flashlight.
|Dive Sites:||Kings Bay (see Map)
In Kings Bay and the main arms of the river, the visibility was rather poor and we didn't see anything interesting but Manatees - or maybe because of them ?
The springs are much more interesting, with lots of small fish, shrimps and incredibly clear water.
|Excursions:||Crystal River State Archeological Site is located right north of Crystal River. It consists of a very interesting indian burial site, a temple mound overlooking the Crystal River and a museum.|
|Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park is located 7 miles south of Crystal River. Here you can see Manatees throughout the whole year and they care for ill and injured ones.|
|Transfer:||Orlando <-> Crystal River
Less than 100 miles on smaller highways from Orlando via Kissimmee and Inverness to Crystal River.
We simply booked a flight (Condor Munich <-> Miami) and rented a car (Ford Galaxy) in a small agency, recommended by a friend. During our tour, we had no problems getting a room in a hotel or motel. Due to the low season, there were lots of vacancies.
|Tips:||Very good chances to see Manatees between November and March|
|As long as you don't plan to scuba dive somewhere else in Florida, travel light and leave your equipment at home. You can rent a wetsuit and abc-equipment at the dive base.|
|Many hotels and motels in Florida offer a discount for members of the AAA and it's European partners, like the ADAC. Don't forget your member card !|
|Bring some Zanzarin oil as insect repellent. It smells terrible to humans and mosquitoes ... ;-)|
|Conclusion:||Our best underwater adventure so far and the only place worth diving on our trip. Don't miss it !
We will surely come back for 2-3 days.
|Literature:||Tauchreiseführer Florida (German only)
Delius Klasing 1995; ISBN 3-89594-010-0
|Reise-Handbuch Florida (German only)
Reisebuchverlag Iwanowski GmbH, 7te Auflage 1997; ISBN 3-923975-12-0
|Richtig Reisen: Florida (German only)
DuMont 1997; ISBN 3-7701-3567-9
|Dumont Extra Florida Ausgabe 97 (German only)
DuMont 1997; ISBN 3-7701-4023-0
|Links:||Hotel: Best Western Crystal River|
|Divebase: Crystal Lodge Dive Center|
|Location: Crystal River|
|Excursions: Crystal River State Archeological Site|
|Excursions: Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park|
|Manatees: The Wonderful World of the Manatee|
|Manatees: Facts and Stories about Manatees|
|Manatees: Sirenen (German startpage)|
|Photo Gallery: Crystal River 1997|
|Itinerary: Crystal River 1997 (German only)|
© Sabine Noack and Thomas Hebel, November 1997. Last update Dezember 2001.