Swim with Manatees
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WE OFFER SMALL GROUP TOURS FOR 6 PEOPLE ONLY. This is not uncommon, but we set ourselves apart by including an amazing brunch, made by the Dockside Deli located next to our facility. This tour is up to 4 hours in length, and we offer a stop, by water, to the office of the Fish and Wildlife to view their manatee exhibit. There is an educational kiosk, a full size skeleton of the manatees, free manatee information, and you will have the opportunity to speak to one of the volunteers or officers who work at the office. It is really great for the kids.
WE ARE LOCATED ON THE WATER. Most operations require you to meet them at a public boat ramp, or be transported by their shuttle bus to the boat ramp. There are many operations in Crystal River which do not have a commercial storefront. They have a docked pontoon boat and purchased a permit from the Fish and Wildlife to conduct tours. We are literally located on a dock in which you step on to our pontoon boats, or walk down a 3 step ladder to be seated in your kayak and take off. There is an aerial photo on the website photo slider.
Bill “Bird” and Diane Oestreich is a trusted family business within the community and have been OPERATING TOURS AND TEACHING SCUBA DIVING IN CRYSTAL RIVER SINCE 1989.
All of our full time Captains are Coast Guard licensed, and trained up to at least Divemaster Level, which includes advanced and rescue diving certifications.
We are founding members of META the Manatee Eco Tourism Association, which is a corporation dedicated to education, cooperation, and proper manatee manners among the associated members.
Our Captains offer an eco-tour on our excursions as we travel at idle speed across Kings Bay to our destinations. We encourage and answer all of your questions. Our store front offers a library of manatee educational materials. We have free handouts from the Fish and Wildlife service such as manatee info brochures and local maps of Kings Bay. We have books on sale for young children and adults. All children are given a free manatee info worksheet, and a gold seal 8 X 10 MANATEE AWARENESS wall plaque after they have completed their manatee snorkel tours.
Our pontoon boats are enclosed in the winter months, and we have a dressing room in which you can put your dry clothes on after the tours on the cold winter days. This has become pretty common among the tour guides, but is not offered by all. We also carry hot chocolate, coffee and tea in the winter months.
A 2:00 p.m. manatee tour in the cold winter months has turned out to be a time in which many people have left the water, rental boats are being returned, and manatees and moving back into the springs. This time frame is only offered at Bird’s Underwater.
We are a full service scuba diving training and sales facility and a Scubapro Platinum dealership, one of only 23 Platinum facilities in the Eastern US. Bill “Bird” Oestreich is the only cave diving, Tri – Mix, and Megalodon Re-breather diving instructor in Crystal River, FL, with over 25 years of technical diving, dive training, and dive exploration conducted in over 5 countries.
We manage 2 waterfront nightly rentals on the Homosassa and Halls River in Homosassa. Both houses have kayaks included, the unit on the Homosassa River is around the corner from the Homosassa Springs State Park manatees gather in the blue waters in the winter, an easy kayaking distance from the Fishbowl Drive rental unit. You may swim with the manatees in this area in the designated areas. We also offer a free kayak rental from the dive shop on the Crystal River by request/reservation.
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