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Manatee Kayaking Trips

Manatee Kayaking in Crystal River

Close Encounter With a Manatee

Manatee Kayak Crystal River

Manatees Sanctuary at Three Sisters, Crystal River


Manatee Kayaking in Crystal River, Florida FL

Manatee Kayaking in Crystal River

Want to see a real "mermaid?"  Join us for our annual Manatee Kayaking Trip posted in February each year when we travel to Crystal River, Florida, to seek out these gentle, giant river dwellers and get a close-up look at them while they winter here. 

About Manatees

There are six manatee sanctuaries in the Crystal River's headwaters at Kings Bay that protect approximately 39 acres of essential manatee habitat. The sanctuaries were created to provide manatees areas where they could retreat from people during their winter-long stay in the area. Kings Bay is considered the most important winter refuge for manatees on Florida's west coast. More than 250 manatees are known to winter here.

Manatees have a large, seal-like body that tapers to a powerful flat tail and two agile forelimbs with
three to four toenails on each, which act like arms to help the manatee maneuver in shallow water, grasp and move food toward their mouths, and act like flippers during swimming. They average 9 to 10 feet long, weighing around 1,000 lbs and can grow as large as 13 feet and weigh more than 3,000 lbs.

Gentle and slow-moving, manatees spend most of the time eating vegetation (100-150 lbs. per day), resting, and traveling. On average manatees can travel about 40 to 50 miles a day, sometimes farther. Chessie, the famed manatee rescued from the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay and returned to Florida, was tagged with a locating device which showed he traveled as far as Rhode Island during hot summer months.

Manatees are found in costal waterways, estuaries, salt-water bays, rivers and canals, particularly where seagrass beds are located. Manatees are completely herbivorous and can eat 10-15% of their body weight daily.

About Kayaking

Kayaking is an easy and fun way to get close to manatees without disturbing them.  Almost anyone can get the hang of kayaking right away, and you don't have to be really fit, just able to do some moderate activity.

You don't even need your own kayak. You can rent a kayak on location at Bird's Underwater or another nearby shop. This trip usually ranges in price from $25 to $40 for the day, and the paddle typically takes only a few hours.

Some of our members also rent out their personal kayaks at reasonable rates.  You need to pick the kayak up and transport it yourself in most cases, but sometimes members can even help with that, too.

Kayaks are a little like canoes, except kayaks are generally much lighter and easier to steer. Kayaks are usually built for one person. You use one long double-ended paddle to propel yourself through the water. In my opinion, the easiest kayaks to use are the "sit-on-top" kayaks, where you are above the water line. This gives you more leverage when dipping your paddle into the water.

See our Events Listing for the next Manatee Kayaking Trip:

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