Photo by Jenna Slovis
Our adventure begins with your arrival to Tampa International Airport. We will meet you outside baggage claim between 5:30pm-6:00pm. From the San Francisco Bay Area many flights arrive between 4:00pm-5:30pm, the earlier the better for our travels. Some travelers arrive into Florida a day or so prior to our trip and meet us at the airport, something we highly recommend. This helps avoid jet lag during our active adventure together. Our destination tonight is our private waterfront home on a tributary of Crystal River.
(dinner included and quad occupancy rooms in our cozy Florida home)
Our comfortable Florida Style home will provide our base for the next five nights
Exploring the spring systems along the mighty Chass!
After breakfast, we will travel to the nearby Chassahowitzka River for a fabulous day of kayaking. The vegetation surrounding this area is lush and tropical. Thick and vibrantly green mosses coat tree limbs and fallen logs. Buttressed cypress trees testify to their successful adaptation to an aquatic existence.
This rich river swamp habitat is the home to a variety of animals including river otter, black bear, white tail deer and gray fox. Alligators, turtles, wading birds, deer and fish are found along this beautiful river and spring system. We may even get our first glimpse of the West Indian Manatee on this magical spring run. We’ll explore this rich ecological area at a leisurely pace and then return to our rental home.
(breakfast, lunch, dinner and quad occupancy rooms included at our rental house).
Today we will begin our search for the endangered West Indian Manatee. The warm spring fed river systems feeding Crystal River and Homosassa River are critical winter habitats for the manatee which seeks refuge in springs as the Gulf temperatures drop. We will take a short van ride then pontoon boat to snorkel among the endangered West Indian Manatee at beautiful Homosassa River.
While Crystal River supports a robust population of manatees, Homosassa River offers a truly unique manatee experience as there are far fewer people visiting this river. Bald eagles are sometimes seen soaring above the Spanish moss draped forest canopy that lines this incredibly scenic stretch of river.
(breakfast, lunch, dinner and quad occupancy rooms included at our rental house, lunch on your own at a riverside restaurant)
Manatee choosing to initiate contact
Crystal River National Wuildlife Refuge has the highest concentration of manatees each winter than anywhere else in the United States. Our hope is to snorkel side by side with these amazing gentle animals. Birding along the river is excellent. Brown and white pelicans, cormorants, ospreys and several species of
wading birds are commonly sighted along the river’s edge. Back in our cozy home tonight we’ll gather for dinner and sunset over the waterfront.
(breakfast, lunch and dinner and quad occupancy rooms included at our rental house)
Today we will travel to Rainbow Springs State Park, home to Florida’s 4th largest spring.
Using a combination of kayaks and canoes, we will paddle up stream then snorkel down river letting the current carry us by schools of fish and foraging turtles. Birding along the river is superb and drifting down stream offers a truly unique venue to observe roosting and foraging birds, some which dive underwater!
We will have a relaxing day on the water then return to our cozy waterfront home.
(breakfast, lunch, dinner and quad occupancy rooms included at our rental house)
a double crested cormorant on the hunt underwater
On our final day, we will return to Homosassa River for another day of exploring, boating and swimming. In addition to snorkeling among adult manatees and their calves, an array of fish species both freshwater and marine are found in the warm 72 degree water.
Schools of mangrove snappers as well as needlefish, sheephead, gars and even huge tarpons are sometimes seen.
Occasionally Bottlenose dolphins follow schools of fish into the freshwater springs offering an unusual sight. This afternoon, we plan to check into the Plantation Inn and enjoy their pool side Tiki Bar, Spa and Restaurant.
(breakfast, lunch and double occupancy rooms, dinner is on your own tonight but we will dine together)
Breakfast will be on your own today at the lovely waterfront Plantation Inn. We will head back to the Tampa International Airport arriving by 11:00am to catch afternoon flights. Please make your flights any time after 1:00pm. A snack lunch will be given to you for the plane ride.
For our first five nights, we have rented a private waterfront home on a tributary of Crystal River. The location is fabulous and our comfortable Florida style home has several rooms which sleep 4-5 people as well as a few beds tucked away throughout the house. Couples will be sharing rooms with others as well. Your Blue Water Ventures staff will be cooking most meals. The rental house is cozy, has a heated pool and creates a relaxed atmosphere, somewhat like a big slumber party! You may take a look at our rental house in Crystal River.
On our final night, we will enjoy the southern comforts of the nearby waterfront Plantation Inn where we have reserved double occupancy rooms. Activities around the resort include: tennis, volleyball, shuffle board, golf, work out room and relaxing in the jacuzzi complete with Tiki Bar!