We have compiled a list of the most common questions we are asked by our potential customers. If you have any questions you are welcome to call 1.352.563.2763, or e-mail us at email@example.com.
We meet at the shop at 6:00 am, 9:00 am, and 11:00 am. 9:00 am and 11:00 am tours must be booked by phone, 6:15 am tour can be booked on line.
The Crystal River and Kings Bay are very popular on the weekends especially during the summer and can get very crowded by mid-morning. We try to always be the first out at 6:00 am and have the most success during the early morning tour. Once the waters get crowded with other tours and boaters, manatee encounters are not as frequent. Remember, you do need reservations. Also see our Manatee Tours page.
Where can I stay when I am in Florida?
Bird's Underwater has several Waterfront Vacation Homes available for rent. Each home is fully furnished and comes with the exclusive use of an ocean kayak. Or, if you prefer, you can stay at one of the hotels listed on the Location page.
Where are you located?
We are located in Crystal River, Florida. If you would like directions, visit the Location page.
We are just 2 hours from Sea World in Orlando. Manatee Tours are the perfect companion family trip to their famous interactive encounters with whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures.
How many people do you take out?
In winter we have 5 boats. Each holds between 6 and 12 people. They go out to different locations to avoid crowding. In summer we try to limit it to 2 boats with no more than 10 on each, but normally we take out 4-8 people a day in the summer.
How large is Kings Bay?
Kings Bay is 640 acres (1.5 miles in diameter), making it the largest concentration of manatees in the world. To offset the traffic, from November 15 to March 31 there are 7 sanctuaries covering over 40 acres of water that no one may enter.
What is your Cancellation Policy?
3 days. And 1 week for holiday weekends. Details about our cancellation policy can be found on the Cancellation page.
I've never snorkeled before. Is it hard?
It is not difficult to snorkel and most people take to it right away, but we recommend that you practice in a local pool if you have the opportunity. You will be more comfortable and graceful in the water if you can get a little experience beforehand. If not, let your captain know and he or she will keep a closer eye on you (and offer a few tips). If you are in town before we close the night before your tour we bill be happy to loan you a mask & snorkel and fins so you can practice in the hotel pool.
Do I need a reservation?
Yes. We require reservations (via credit card) for our manatee tours. To make a reservation call us at (352) 563-2763 or book online at the top left of any page here in our website.
Drop ins are welcome if there is room, but it is early to get up and find out we can't accommodate you, so we really encourage reservations.
Do you go out if it the weather is bad?
Yes. We go out in all weather conditions except lightning or the occasional hurricane! Our boats are enclosed, so you won't get wet on the trip out into the bay, and once you are in the water, you're wet anyway. :) If you're planning to stay on the boat, a raincoat could be a good idea.
How cold is it and do I really need a wetsuit?
US Fish & Wildlife prefers that everyone wear a wetsuit, so we do request their use. Otherwise, you will need to use an alternate buoyancy device. Beside, water temperature in the spring fed rivers is around 72 degrees (21 C). The average winter air temperature is 40-50's at night, 60-70's during the day in the winter, with summertime temps in the upper 80's. We offer hoods to wear at no extra cost on the cool mornings and each of our boats has a dressing room which you can use to put on dry clothes after you exit the water.
Wetsuits provide the extra buoyancy you need to float quietly in the water without thrashing around and scaring away the manatees! There is no charge for the wetsuit if you don't have your own.
What is the "best" time to come?
The "best" time to come is during the cold spells when ALL of the manatees gather around the 72 degree springs. Cold spells are most common from mid-October to mid-March, but keep in mind that we have a large population of between 100-400 manatees from October to March. Another consideration when planning a tour is the time of the week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week, because there is less traffic on the water.
We also offer tours in the summer. There are not as many manatees as there are in the cooler months, but 25-50 manatees seem to like spending their time in Kings Bay all year long. We have had consistent success with summer tours since 1999.
Keep in mind we often see dolphins as well as manatees on the river. They come in to feed.
Is there an age limit?
No. There is no age limit for our manatee snorkeling tours, but parents MUST stay with their children at all times and the children must remain quiet. Recommended age is roughly 5-8 years.
Do you offer scuba diving tours?
Yes, we offer several scuba diving tours. However, we do not offer scuba diving tours in manatee areas -- the bubbles scare them away. Scuba diving is available by guided tour in the afternoon, or you can take out one of our kayaks.
For more information about our scuba diving tours and kayaks, visit our Dive Center website.Do you rent kayaks or paddle boards?