I hope you will consider joining us as we explore the Florida Springs!
I saw my first manatee at age eleven. I was surf fishing in a quiet lagoon with my father. I will never forget my father’s startled expression as a massive, unidentifiable creature surfaced next to us in the warm Gulf waters of Florida. I have been swimming with these gentle animals nearly every winter since.
Each winter as the Gulf temperatures begin to drop, The West Indian Manatees migrate into the clear warmer springs of Florida. By January, the manatees have been in Crystal and Homosassa River for several months. Most of the population will leave the rivers for the Gulf waters by late March. January is an excellent time to visits these spring fed rivers. The weather in January can be very pleasant and there are typically plenty of manatees basking in the spring-fed water. We may experience daytime temperatures ranging from the 50’s to 70’s.
Our trip will also include the Chassahowitzka River offering a leisurely kayak run. During our day on the Chassahowitzka we may drift by cypress knees, basking alligators, river otters and a multitude of birds such as little blue herons, white ibis, great egrets and anhingas.
We are very excited to offer both The “Chass” as well as the crystal clear water of Rainbow Run, both spring-fed rivers to explore during our unique and varied itinerary.
Our 7 Day Adventure includes: 6 nights of lodging, van transfers in Florida, 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners, 2 days of guided kayaking~snorkeling, 3 guided snorkeling tours via pontoon boat, guided hikes, entrance into wildlife parks, all permits, interpretive slide shows, naturalist -led in water programming and the extraordinary experience of snorkeling with a 2000 pound mammal!
This price does not include air transportation, snorkeling gear (mask and snorkel) or personal liquor. Snorkel gear may be rented in Florida. Farmer Jane style wetsuits are provided for our 2 kayaking days and full wetsuits are provided on our 3 pontoon boat excursions. All meals are included with the exception of two restaurant meals, lunch on Day 3 and dinner on Day 6.
There are several options for travel to Tampa International Airport (airport code TPA). Please make arrangements so that you can meet the group at noon outside baggage claim on January 21st. This may require that you overnight in Tampa which is highly recommended to avoid jet lag. A red eye flight is also an option, although a missed connection would require that you Uber on your own to Crystal River, 2 hours away. Several clients have stayed at the Hampton Inn which offers a free shuttle to the Tampa International Airport.
Some travelers arrive into Florida several days before our trip extending their experience in the “Sunshine State”.
An early arrival helps avoid jet lag during our active adventure together. There are many hotels near the Tampa Airport and many Florida attractions including Clearwater Beach on the Gulf Coast, about 45 minutes from the airport. Others arriving early or staying an extra day visit the renown Florida Aquarium in Tampa. We recommend a meal at the original Columbia Restaurant located in the National Historic Landmark District of Ybor City.
I have found great flight deals into Tampa on Kayak.com Our trip ends at 11:00am at the Tampa International Airport on January 27th allowing people to catch afternoon flights.
PLEASE DO NOT BOOK YOUR RETURN FLIGHTS BEFORE 1:00 PM on January 27th. We suggest that you follow our recommendations regarding the strongly suggested trip insurance.
Snorkeling and drifting down Rainbow Run while BWV guides tow your kayak!
For six nights, we have rented a private waterfront home on Crystal River. The location is fabulous and our comfortable Florida style home has several bedrooms, some that sleep 3-4 people. Couples may be sharing rooms with others. This varies each year. Your Blue Water Ventures staff will be cooking most meals. The rental house is cozy, has a screened in pool, large backyard and creates a relaxed atmosphere, somewhat like a big slumber party! You may take a look at our rental house Crystal River (subject to availability).
Due to the nature of this program traveling in vans and boats together and sharing accommodations, we will require everyone to submit proof of the COVID-19 vaccination. We encourage eligible travelers to be fully vaccinated by getting their Covid-19 Booster Shot. As of April 2023, our Florida program no longer requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to our departure. This decision was made based on the general trend in the eco-adventure travel industry with updates from the CDC regarding COVID-19. However, by next January, it’s conceivable that COVID testing could be required again. We will update our group members if our policy changes.
During our travels if anyone is exhibiting flu or COVID like symptoms, we will require that you take a COVID 19 test. We plan to bring a supply of testing kits, however please bring several personal kits. If someone tests positive, you will be isolated from the group until arrangements can be made for your evacuation from our program. All costs of an evacuation is the responsibility of each participant.
Ultimately, we want our group members to feel safe and remain healthy as they travel with us. Thank you for taking everyone’s health and safety into consideration. Now more than ever, it is important to secure Travel Insurance. You may purchase through this link or choose a company of your choice.
While experience in snorkeling or kayaking is not required to participate in this program, good general health is recommended. Some level of upper body conditioning is advisable to prepare for our active and adventurous trip. On several mornings we will be out the door by 7:45am to improve our chances of the best manatee viewing and interactions.
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
127 Mason St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060