Before we left Florida in early May, we were invited to meet our friends on the Crystal River for a day of kayaking and manatee-watching. We rented a double-kayak from Captain Mike’s Kayak Rentals, which was really easy in the age of COVID. The kayak, life vests, and paddles were waiting for us at the dock. We not-so-gracefully made our way into the vessel, and set out to find our friends who were starting farther north.
Having never kayaked before, much less in a 2-person kayak, we had quite the adventure trying to work as a team. However, we managed to get into a rhythm, and paddled our way out into Crystal River. If you’ve never been in this particular part of Florida before, it is known for it’s concentrated population of manatees.
In fact, Three Sisters Springs, located in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, is where in early spring, manatees congregate in the natural spring. The water is crystal clear all the time, allowing visitors to see not only manatees, but the spring floor below.
After spending some time in the spring, we returned to the open water of Crystal River. I have to admit that being in a small kayak amongst larger boats was a bit unnerving. However, everyone was conscious of their surroundings, and we all practiced our own brand of social distancing.
Our friends have kayaked this river many times and knew where to go to have the best chance of seeing a manatee. Since it was already May, the manatees had moved out of the spring and into open water.
We were fortunate to see some turtles sunning themselves before they jumped back into the water. And we learned quickly that the water got very calm and smooth before a manatee would come up for air!
After an exciting morning on the river, we paddled back to shore and met up for lunch. As we were still early in the age of COVID, we had a tailgate picnic in the parking lot! Cajun Jimmy’s did not disappoint! Thank you, Carmella and Dana, for being such wonderful hosts and tour guides! We will definitely be kayaking again!!
Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. Check out her author page here.