Trip planning for any upcoming Adventure is always great fun to me. I like to research the area, the choice of hotels, the type of food the area is known for, what fun activities you can do in the area, and so on. Even if you have lived in a certain part of your state for many years, I find that there are always surprises to be found when you go looking.
Crystal River, Florida is just that kind of wonderful surprise. South Florida is known for its beaches and yachting, exotic nightlife. The Gulf Coast of Florida is popular with Snowbirds, great white sugar sand beaches, a lot of history and charm. When you move a little bit away from the crowds though, up north of Clearwater, and a little inland (six miles) from the Gulf of Mexico, you find a hidden treasure like Crystal River.
The unique rock formations in Florida lend themselves to Spring creation because of the dissolution of some of the limestone whenever it rains. Small holes develop into larger holes, tunnels and caves created give way to a network of places water can get into. This allows the pressure of underground water (aquifer) to push up onto the earths surface. And we are so lucky to have so many great springs in the State of Florida, about 700 in total. Crystal River/King’s Bay is the second largest group of springs in the state with more than 70 springs counted within the 600-acre bay. It is also the largest winter habitat for the Manatees in North America. When the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops, the Manatees start swimming inland to find the warm springs of Crystal River and King’s Bay. The main manatee viewing season is from November to April each year.
If your trip timing is more towards Summer, you can still see a few manatees hovering around Crystal River but the boats gear up to take visitors on a “Scalloping” run. Scallops live in the Sea grass beds of water usually between 4-10 ft. deep. Recreational harvesting of the Florida Scallops is allowed and they may only be caught by hand or a special small net. The season for scallop harvesting is approximately June 15th to Labor Day. The best harvests are in July and early August. Most resorts and lodges will allow you to bring home your catch and the Chef will cook them up for your dinner. These small bay scallops make a delicious treat for a summer pasta.
Watch a fun video showing just how it is done, the link is here: https://youtu.be./AHniENAmTiY Thanks Justin Whaley who shot this video.
Remember, the water is only about 5 feet deep so you are not truly diving down too far, a simple snorkel mask with good visibility should do the trick. This, like the swimming with manatees, is a great family trip for almost all ages (family members should be at least 4 years of age) and a family of 4 or 5 is an ideal size to book a private trip for the Swim or the Scalloping.
I would be remiss if I did not suggest that Gage builds into your Crystal River excursion a great fishing experience. There are so many types of fish that inhabit this area, Redfish, Tarpon, Bass, Sea trout, Snook, Mullet, and Sheepshead are among the most popular. Many of these fish give a good fight off the end of your fishing pole. This is a sport that can include the whole family, even if Mom or Dad just want to take the pictures with the camera! Our Boat Captains are all USCG certified and will bring everything you need in fishing gear with them. You can even have lunch on the boat and the surrounding wildlife is great to watch when you are taking a break. Do not forget to bring your suntan lotion, Florida’s Sun has a reputation for being hot and strong!
Gage Outdoor Expeditions and Beatrice Bradley adventure travel (Division of Gage Outdoors) are ready to help you experience all the grandeur of the Crystal River area. Let us design the best trip for your family, corporate group, you and your spouse, or buddies as a group. Book early because this hidden gem is making a lot of impact and more tourists are discovering this wonderful vacation area!
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