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Ways to Experience River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
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Reviews (4,704)
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Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Emerson and Irish Dave were the best! They made our experience enjoyable and definitely unforgettable. Everyone at River Ventures were so friendly. We couldn’t have had a better group of people to guide us to swim with the Manatees. I highly recommend River Ventures for swimming with the Manatees. What an incredible experience! 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Date of experience: February 2021
Thank U7779LQjeannec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

My family had a private group tour with Gavin and Irish Dave and it was fantastic! They worked hard to find manatees who were likely to want to interact with us, and teach us how to have positive interactions with them. They were personable and knowledge and we learned a lot about manatees, their habitat, and their behavior, as well as the other animals in the river.

Swimming with the manatees was amazing - a true privilege and a joy, but not all of our party swam. However, even the people who chose not to swim got to see plenty of manatees from the comfort of the heated boat. We all had a lot of fun!

It was a truly wonderful experience and I can't recommend it more!

Date of experience: February 2021
Thank 019Becs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We went out on the 6:45am tour led by "Irish Dave" Derrick. There were a total of 5 participants on the boat (2 different groups) plus the crew. During our time in the building, during the van ride, and on the boat, all participants wore masks and the staff went out of their way to make sure all felt comfortable with social distancing practices, etc.

The early tour is the way to go! Get there early while the water is still cool to find lots of manatee in one location. Derrick takes GREAT photos - our group had over 200!! And the purchase price ($32) for the entire CD of photos and videos is a steal! Leave your GoPros at home and be in the moment with the manatees, leave the photography to Derrick!

It was pretty chilly the morning we went out (Feb 6) so we had time for a tour of the bay after getting out of the water, but still within our tour timeframe. While I wasn't planning on this, it was actually really helpful to locate other areas to see manatee. We had our own paddle boards with us, and after a trip from Dave to put in at Hunter Springs Park ($5 to park all day, and an awesome facility) we were able to paddle ourselves around the bay, and even down to Three Sisters to see manatee on our own. They are easy to spot in the water from a paddle board. But do be aware that the paddle to 3 Sisters isn't for first timers, it requires a lengthy paddle that crosses the open bay, and when the wind gets up, the ride is choppy.

In short, I WILL be back to Crystal River to repeat this amazing experience. And I will 100% go out again with River Ventures.

Date of experience: February 2021
Thank W1897KYerins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

My son (14) and I went on the early (6:45) tour with Chip and Sky and it was absolutely amazing. The staff at the building is efficient and friendly. They made us some hot cocoa (it was 29 degrees that morning), talked to us about how to interact with the manatees, got us suited up in wetsuits, and delivered us to the pier.

Chip and Sky are both so knowledgeable about the area and its history and wildlife. At our first stop we were the first people there and found a number of very friendly manatees. One actually stole the pool noodle I was using to float, and it was hilarious. Sky was in the water with us and gently talked me through a couple of times when I was not doing something right or not sure what to do.

We went to a different spring and saw six or seven more manatees (including a mother and calf), sheepshead, mullet, and jack. The water was much clearer there, but the manatees were all sleeping. We watched them from a distance and were the only people there for most of our visit.

The difference in the quality of our experience was truly brought home when another operator brought a huge, chaotic crowd of people to the second spring. I would definitely recommend trying to go on a weekday if you can, because I can't even imagine how crowded it would be on a weekend.

I'm so grateful for the truly amazing experience and the lifelong memories we made. And for Sky's great photos of those memories!

Date of experience: February 2021
Thank justatester
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Very efficient. They were ready for us and on time. All the accommodations were are described and we had a lovely time. Great with the kids!

Date of experience: February 2021
Thank Wildandfreefamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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