While there are many things to do when visiting Clearwater Beach, there are also other parts of Florida worth experiencing. Many of these places are just a relatively short distance from Clearwater Beach and can make a great day trip! Crystal River, Florida definitely makes the list of places to go if you’re looking for a fun day trip location.
Kayaking in Crystal River, Florida
Crystal River, Florida is located on the Gulf Coast just an hour and forty-five minutes north of Clearwater Beach. (Click here for directions.) Crystal River, Florida has become known as the “Home of the Manatee”. Manatees flock to Crystal River, Florida each fall and spend the winter enjoying the warm water in the area. As the water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico drops, the Three Sisters Springs of Crystal River, Florida keeps the water in the area much warmer. The Three Sisters Springs maintain a water temperature of 72 degrees throughout the entire year! The springs also keep the water crystal clear, hence the name – Crystal River.
The clear and warm waters of Three Sisters Springs not only attracts manatees but also makes the Crystal River area an amazing location for kayaking!
The ideal time to go to kayaking at Crystal River is during late September, through the winter, and into March. This is when the water of the Gulf of Mexico is much cooler, and the warm waters of Three Sisters Springs attract manatees to the area. Three Sisters Springs is part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the King’s Bay Manatee Refuge. During the cooler months of the year, this area becomes home to the largest population of manatees in the world! While the coolers months are when you’re most likely to see manatees, the Crystal River area is a beautiful area for kayaking no matter what time of year it is.
You can bring your own kayaks, or you can rent kayaks in the Crystal River area. When I went kayaking in Crystal River, Florida, I rented from Hunter Springs Kayaks. Hunter Springs Kayaks offers guided tours, kayak rentals, paddle board rentals and kayak/paddle board hybrids for those who are new to standup paddle boarding. Hunter Springs Kayaks is located just a few blocks from the water. This provides plenty of free parking and a very short walk to the water. Don’t worry about carrying your kayak or paddleboard. All rented equipment is transported down to the water for you!
While I haven’t been kayaking in Crystal River, Florida during the Manatee Season (Late September through early April), I still had a great time kayaking through the beautiful area. I was able to see a few manatees and dolphins as I kayaked around the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The entire area truly is beautiful!
After kayaking in Crystal River, Florida, I drove a slower way back to Clearwater Beach. I stayed off the major highway and drove south on 19, giving me the opportunity to stop at one of my favorite places for dinner, Hellas Restaurant, in Tarpon Springs.