River Ventures Swim With Manatees Tour Center
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Swimming With Manatees
Frequently Asked Questions


How long is the boat ride to the springs?
Our boats are moored on the manatee refuge. This means no long boat rides to your swim destination. You can't get any closer than we are. This is especially important as it does not take away from your swim time.

Do you have an In Water Manatee Tour Guide?
Our US Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain and in water personal Manatee Tour guide will be in the water to assist you and your group, or family, from the beginning of your manatee swim tour to the end, ensuring that you have a pleasant, safe, and educational experience, and to assure that the manatees are given the respect that they deserve as we are a guest in their home. They also will be taking pictures of your manatee experience both on the boat and in the water.

Are there any hidden fees?
Our tour price includes everything you need to swim with the manatees. Wetsuit, Mask, Snorkel, and Fins are all included in the advertised tour price. No Hidden Fees or upcharges for gear! We do not charge additional fees for parking, or upcharge for gas. A Picture CD of your snorkel with manatee’s tour is optional to purchase at the end of your adventure.

Do you have a wetsuit that will fit me?
We have wetsuits for both Children and Adults and in sizes up to 5x. We do require that you wear a wetsuit when you snorkel with the manatees as they help you stay warm, buoyant, and assist you in keeping your feet near the top of the water and not dangling, which often will stir up the bottom and scare the manatees. You of course can choose to bring your own gear if you would feel more comfortable. If bringing your own gear, please remember that we are only snorkeling in the shallow water, not diving, so advanced diving gear is not necessary.

Where do we meet?
We meet at our full service swim with the manatees tour and educational facility where you will check in and enjoy a cup of complimentary coffee or hot chocolate.  We will sit down to watch a short video on how to swim with the manatees, then gear up for your manatee tour in our climate controlled changing rooms. Once your swim with the manatees tour is over, and you exit the water, you may change immediately in our on-board changing room, or change in the comforts of our dressing rooms when you return to prepare for your trip back home.
 

Are your boats covered, do they have bathrooms?
All of our boats are equipped with complete roof overs and have clear vinyl glass enclosures that can be rolled down during inclement weather. These features make for a comfortable ride to and from the swim areas, especially during cold winter days and during periods of rainy weather. Each boat is also equipped with a curtained privacy area with a flushable porta-potty. This curtained area can also be used as a changing room for those who wish to change into dry clothing for the short ride back to the dock.
 

How long is the Manatee Swim Tour?
Our swim with manatee tours are approximately 3 hours starting from the time the boat pulls away from the dock until it returns. The time spent at our facility gearing up and receiving instruction of the dos and don’ts of swimming with the manatees does not take away from your time in the water. Your swim with manatees tour arrival time at either 6:15 AM or 9:15 AM includes the additional time necessary to change into your wetsuit and prepare for your manatee tour. It is most important that you arrive at least 5 -10 minutes early, and on time, as we can’t deviate from our scheduled manatee tour times. Don't miss the boat ... please arrive on time.
 

Do you offer group discounts?
Yes, we offer a ten percent (10%) discount on groups of 10 or more people. Please contact us by phone to reserve discounted group tours. You can reach us daily from 6 AM EST until 8 PM EST by calling 877-581-8401.
 

What is your cancellation Policy?
We require five (5) days advance notification if you can't make your scheduled tour reservation. This cancellation policy allows us time to re-sell any seats left vacant and helps us keep our prices reasonable for you. We pre-charge all credit card reservations for the cost of the tour and do not refund short-notice cancellations. This is consistent with airline, car rental agency, hotel policies and other swim with the manatees tour companies. Our boats are US Coast Guard certified for a certain number of passengers,  once our boats are full then we are forced to turn others way. Our captains are scheduled according to the number of seats we have reserved. We take reservations so that you will be guaranteed to have a seat available on our boat and we would appreciate it if you make the same commitment to arrive on time, and to keep your reservations. We can't hold a boat for late arrivals, as this means those who did arrive on time would have to wait, and would also make our other scheduled tours depart at a later time than scheduled.

Are there any age limits?
Children 2 years old and up to seniors of all ages are welcome to swim with the manatees. You should be comfortable in the water, and parents must stay close to their children at all times for safety, and to help them remain quiet. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.  Remember, wearing a wetsuit not only helps to keep you warm, but also helps you to stay buoyant. We also carry inflatable snorkel vests and foam swim noodles on our boats for those who wish to have a little extra buoyancy. Even though you are invited to swim with the manatees, we actually just float on top of the water and snorkel with manatees which does not require much actual swimming.

Are there rules that we follow when we snorkel with the manatees?
Yes, manatees are protected under both the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Both the State of Florida and the U.S. Federal Government oversee the protection of the manatee. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) have laws in place to ensure the safety of the manatees. These laws are strictly enforced and must be followed by everyone who enters the water. Upon arrival to our center we will have you watch a movie covering the do’s and don’ts, and will go over the rules with you so that you are fully aware of the guidelines when you swim with the manatees. You can view these rules by clicking here.
 

How many manatees will we see?
Please remember that manatees are an endangered species and that our tours are conducted in their own natural environment. The manatees are not contained to any specific area of the refuge and are free to come and go as they please. No two days are ever the same. Weather, tidal influences and time of year affect the conditions daily and it can never be predicted just how many manatees you will see. During the colder winter months we have the largest concentration of manatees however, because we have a unique eco system which is a prime habitat for manatees, we have a resident population that
stay with us year round. These resident populations of manatees that make Crystal River their yearlong home are the ones that we are able to swim with during the warmer summer months.

How many people do you take on your boats?
Our boats are US Coast Guard Certified, inspected, and stability tested for your safety and are designed to comfortably carry anywhere from 6 to 14 swimmers and observers. Some tour companies advertise that they only take small groups because it makes for a more personal tour. Remember, when tour companies advertise more private or personal tours, that you can be the only ones on the boat BUT not the only ones in the water. Their boats visit the same areas as ours and the same as other tour companies. While we do our best to keep you from the crowds it is not always possible especially during busy holiday’s and holiday weekends. Remember we go where the manatees go. Our boats simply transport you to those areas. The boat ride is not what makes the tour it is the guide’s knowledge of the manatees and their habits and the comfort and friendliness provided by the staff and facility that you tour with. We do always recommend the 6:15 AM tour to avoid the largest crowds in the water and avoid the other tour companies that get a later start as well as recreational watercraft. The early tour simply beats the crowds and gets you in and out while the refuge is at its quietest and the manatees are still in their most relaxed state.

Where is River Ventures Manatee Tour Center located?
River Ventures is located in the Town of Crystal River, on the west coast of Florida known as the nature coast, home of the manatee. We are approximately 1 hour north of the Tampa International Airport and approximately 1 ½ hours northwest of Orlando. For further driving directions and approximate driving time click on our directions link and enter the address that you will be coming from.

Can I touch the manatees?
Yes, you are allowed to touch the manatees however you can only do so with one open hand. No bear Hugs. Remember we are a guest in the endangered manatees home. It is a privilege to be able to view just one of these gentle and curious animals in the wild. By following the rules that we cover with you we can all insure that this privilege will be shared with future generations?

Can I ride on the boat and not swim?
Yes! We always welcome observers. You can often see the manatees from the boat and sometimes they get close enough to the boat that you can reach down and touch them. Bring your cameras and binoculars and enjoy the surroundings of the refuge.

What about weather conditions?
Because we are on the coast, storms will often move through quickly. Rarely do we ever have to cancel tours due to weather however there are times when we will delay your departure waiting for the stormy
weather to pass through. In the event of a delay, your tour will be extended to insure that you receive the full length that you paid for. Our boats are equipped with roof overs and vinyl glass enclosures to protect you and your belongings from the elements as you travel to and from the areas where you will swim.

Crystal River Manatee Tours Conducted 7 Days a Week Year Around!
(Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas)
Reservations in advance are highly recommended.
Call or Click the Link below to Book Your Tour Today!

Reserve a Tour - Click Here!
View Our Cancellation Policy


River Ventures Manatee Tour Center

498 S.E. Kings Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429

Phone: 352-564-TOUR (8687)
Toll Free: 1-877-581-8401

 

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Phone: 352 564-TOUR (8687)
Toll Free: 1-877-581-8401 River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
498 SE Kings Bay Drive
Crystal River, Florida 34429

 

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