There were over 500,000 tourists visiting Crystal Lake, Florida in 2018.
With so much to do including kayaking, diving, fishing, bird watching, manatee and wildlife tours, it’s no wonder people flock to this sunny destination in Florida.
If you are planning on kayaking the Crystal River, read on. We’ll share our top 10 tips so you can get the most out of your experience.
Kayaking in Crystal River Florida
The Crystal River is so much more than just a pretty name. It is a series of over 30 springs along a river that flow about 7 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. As you glide across the clear water you can see straight down to the sandy bottom.
Kayaking the Crystal River is rewarding and a lot of fun. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience.
1. Ask for Instructions
If you have never been in a kayak before, the best thing you can do before kayaking the Crystal River is to ask how to turn, stop, position your body for comfort, and above all the rules of the road.
Simple instructions will help you become comfortable with the kayak and paddle as well as getting in and out of the boat. It is essential that you learn the local laws for kayaking with the manatees, if you rent a boat, you must watch Manatee Manners for kayakers.
You will enjoy Crystal River so much more if you have a basic grasp on what you’re doing. But don’t worry if you are a beginner, Crystal River is a great destination for novice and advanced kayakers alike.
2. Check the Weather
Usually, the weather in Crystal River is favorable for kayaking. The water is typically calm without waves. But sometimes winds can exceed 10 knots and make the Bay and inland waters choppy.
Always check the weather before you set out. Isolated thunderstorms are possible. Postpone your trip is there is a risk of lightning.
3. Dress for the Water Temperature
Though the air temperature can be nice and warm, the water temperature in Crystal River is 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
After just a couple of minutes in the water, or after an accidental immersion, you may find yourself shivering in your shorts.
If you are not used to cool water, wear a wetsuit. If you opt not to go with the wetsuit, be sure to pack an extra pair of clothes in case you get wet.
4. Use the Right Kayak
You can take part in Crystal River, Florida kayaking with either your own boat or you can rent a kayak. Choose from single or double-seat kayaks or a SUP.
Equipped with the right kayak for you, you’ll spend a pleasant day spotting manatee, birds and other wildlife. River otters, raccoons, and occasionally alligators and dolphins are sometimes seen.
5. Grab a Map
There are so many amazing parts of the bay to explore. You won’t want to miss your chance to really see all that Crystal River has to offer.
Be sure to grab a map from your Kayak rental company so that you can meander along and find the best springs.
6. Visit Three Sisters Springs
Whatever you do, don’t miss Three Sisters Springs. Located on the east side of King’s Bay, this spot has several vents and sand boils. It’s a must for a beautiful kayaking destination.
Three Sisters Springs is also the winter habitat for Manatees. People from all over come for manatee viewings.
You must have a kayak or a canoe (or swim) to get into this spring. Motorboats are not permitted which makes this spot peaceful and serene.
Be warned that even strong swimmers can struggle to pull themselves to this area during low tide. Also, be sure to check if the springs are open before you go.
But the Three Sisters Springs group represents just three of the 70 springs within the 600-acre bay.
7. Explore Hunter Spring City Park
One of the most popular places to go kayaking on Crystal River is Spring City Park. There’s a kayak launch, boardwalk, beach, and changerooms.
This spot attracts kayak enthusiasts as well as people wanting to swim with manatees.
8. Paddle Along the Chassahowitzka River
Kayaking on Chassahowitzka River is a great option if you want a leisurely afternoon. This river is spring-fed, clear and stunning like so many of the rivers here.
Go ahead and trace the “Chazz” to its source (a spring called “The Crack.”). You won’t spot manatees here but you will see mullet and birds.
9. Take a Manatee Tour
Looking for an exceptional water experience by boat or kayak? You have to go on a manatee tour.
A licensed guide will guide you You are sure to find the best spots for snorkeling and swimming with manatees.
10. End the Day at Fort Island Gulf Beach
After a brilliant day of Crystal River, Florida kayaking, it’s time to unwind and relax on the beach.
For Island Gulf beach has sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico and is sure to provide you with a picture-perfect sunset.
There’s a picnic area, outdoor showers and changing rooms so you can peel off your wetsuit. Though it’s located near the pier, the water is calm. You might even think you’re on a lake.
This beach is a family friendly spot to relax by the water after a good day of kayaking.
Thanks for reading! We hope these 10 tips for kayaking the Crystal River help make your trip unforgettable.
Now all you need to do is pack your bags and find the perfect vacation rental.
At Bird’s Underwater Dive Center, we have several rental houses for you to choose from. Two are waterfront and the third is surrounded by five acres of wilderness.
Whether you’re here to go on a manatee snorkel trip, a scalloping trip, or dive instruction, these houses are the perfect place to stay.