Please enjoy this partnered guest post on Florida vacation adventure ideas.
Have you ever wanted to plan the perfect, adventurous family getaway? Someplace exciting but not busy, relaxing but not boring? Nature-focused trips are a great solution, far away from the bustle of the big attractions and exotic enough to bring a piquant element to your holiday. The Central Florida coast, anchored by the lovely Crystal River, is ideally suited to this. Halfway between Tampa and Gainesville, Crystal River sits on Kings Bay, and is the heart of the state’s Nature Coast, so there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy – family holidays in Florida need not always be about DisneyWorld.
As its name suggests, the water at Crystal River is clear and perfect for diving and snorkelling. The actual river itself is fed by more than 30 springs and, more importantly, stays at a steady 72ºF year round. As the waters of the Gulf of Mexico cool in the fall, manatees migrate to these warmer waters for the winter – in fact, November through March are the best times to encounter manatees at the wildlife refuge in Crystal River. These gentle giants are most people’s main reason to visit, and it is definitely worth it as it is the only place in the US where you can legally swim and dive with them.
Because they are slow moving and herbivorous manatees are sometimes also called sea cows, but they actually more closely related to elephants than cows. They are not dangerous and are amicable to human snorkelers and divers, but are at risk from more vigorous human activities, such as speed boating or habitat bed destruction. When you go on this adventure be respectful of the animals and always follow the instructions of your tour operator. We want to make sure many more generations will be able to have the same wonderful experience that you’re having.
Other than the majestic sea cow, there are many other animals to see and outdoor activities to experience. Fish are popular with divers and snorkelers of course, but also for sport fishermen visiting the area. Some of the best saltwater fishing in Florida can be found here. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and neighboring Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge are also great places to see otters, alligators, turtles, deer, ospreys, bald eagles, swallowtail kites, herons and a great variety of other birds. Boating and kayaking are great ways to explore these areas.
Holidays in Florida don’t have to always be the trip to Disneyworld which can sometimes cost a pretty penny. Try something a little different and get out to the water and do something really “wild”. Have you ever swam with manatees, or any other water animal for that matter??