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Spring Breaking With Manatees at the Plantation on Crystal River

For Spring Break 2015 we were invited to the Plantation on Crystal River to enjoy the resort, swim with manatees, and share our experience with you.

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A couple hours north of Orlando, on the shore of Kings Bay is a plantation style resort surrounded by water that is teeming with manatees. The property has the look and feel of an old southern plantation and is the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts. From the Tiki Bar you can literally kick back and watch the manatees swim by as you enjoy your favorite beverage.

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Although we didn’t spend much time in it, the room was very spacious and there were plenty of outlets to keep our devices charged. The beds were comfortable and housekeeping kept us stocked with plenty of towels. The room also came with a fridge which is perfect for leftovers. The back door opened up to a huge lawn that is perfect for throwing footballs and Frisbees.

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We enjoyed hanging out at the pool. James must have worked on his flips for hours. The Tiki Bar was my favorite place to hang out. Situated conveniently between the pool and canal, it was the perfect place to keep watch over the kid and spot the occasional meandering manatee. Drinks and food were great and service was outstanding.


We met at the dive shop for our manatee tour at the butt crack of dawn. After squeezing into our wetsuits and watching a short safety video, we were off before we knew it. Of course we didn’t get far before we were on the trail of our first manatee. After it settled down a bit we all got into the water to get up close and personal.

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As long as you stay really calm and still manatees will swim right up to you. They are really mellow creatures and don’t like it much if you are splashing all over the place.


Kicking up sediment ruins visibility for everyone so we were encouraged to keep our feet up. Wearing 5 mil wetsuits not only kept us warm but made staying afloat effortless. We saw a few big manatees and even a baby.



After we all got a chance to encounter a manatee we boated on over to 3 Sisters Springs.









This area is a manatee sanctuary and manatees are highly protected so stay in the designated areas. There was a lot to explore and fun underwater obstacles to swim through. We learned a lot about manatees and the local wildlife from our boat captain. He also made sure none of us broke the rules. Believe it or not there are actually guards patrolling the area making sure you don’t leave designated areas or harass the manatees in any way.

Although there are a lot of rules about interacting with manatees, I think it all boils down to just look and don’t touch. As long as you are passively observing and not blocking their path, chasing them, or touching them in any way, you are good to go.

While there are manatees in this area year round during the winter this area turns into a manatee wonderland. I was told there were around 500 manatees that took refuge around 3 Sisters this year. That is a whole lotta manatees!If underwater adventures float your boat, you should seriously add a trip to the Plantation on Crystal River to your bucket list. The property is beautiful and there are so many different ways to enjoy nature. Not only can you encounter manatees but you can book fishing trips, golf, and much more. We only came for a day but our memories will last a lifetime. Best Spring Break ever!!!

Wanna see what its like to swim with manatees?


  1. Mary Ambrosino says

    It sounds like a trip to remember.