Thursday, October 06, 2011

Crystal River Paddle, Part 2

Crystal River, Florida    -   Crystal Isles Rv Resort

We decided to find another place to paddle on Crystal River.  There are a lot of springs all along the river and we decided to go back to the big spring that we had dove in many years ago.  Our memories of that spring were nothing like the beautiful clear waters we were on a few days ago.

We drove around a while until we came across the Port Hotel.  It is located at 1610 Se Paradise Circle, in Crystal River.  It is right across from the main big spring and Banana Island.  This is the area where the largest concentrations of Manatee hang out in the winter.

They were in the process of remodeling this hotel, (it needed it) and appeared to be completely gutting the rooms.  I don’t know if they’ll be finished by the busy season, which will start next month.


It was not the kind of hotel I would stay in, but the location was good if you wanted to do some Manatee diving. 

There is a dive shop, marina with a boat launch right there.

The Dive Shop


Lots of rental and charter boats.



They charged us $5.00 per kayak to launch at the ramp. 

kayak launch at Port Hotel

The guy at the dive shop said they have 20-30 Manatee that live there year round.

We didn’t see any Manatee all day.  We heard one come up for air, but that’s it.

We launched the kayaks and paddled right straight across to Banana Island and King Spring.  It was windy and choppy so it was hard to see anything in the water.


The water certainly wasn’t as pretty or clear as our previous paddle on this river to Three Sisters Springs.

Between the choppy seas and the currents, we had to work fairly hard to make any progress.

Banana Island

We stopped at a little beach area and ate our lunch.



You can certainly see the difference in water clarity and color.


Still, it was a pretty nice paddle.  It would have been a great paddle if we had seen some Manatee!

There are some roped off Manatee Sanctuary areas that you are not allowed in.  Unfortunately people love Manatees so much, they have to be protected from all that love.  SmileThe barriers will be coming up soon.  The Manatee soon learn where to if they want to interact with people where to go if they want to be left alone.  The youngsters want human contact more than the adults.



It certainly wasn’t as pretty as yesterday’s paddling trip, but during the height of Manatee season, this would be a great place to see manatee….lots of Manatee!   There will be many, many tourists in this area over the next few months, all in search of the gentle Florida Manatee. 

We have come to the conclusion, the Three Sisters Springs area is the prettiest of the entire river.  If you’re looking for pretty, go there.

If you’re looking to see Manatee, go to the area we were at yesterday, by Banana Island.  The dive shop we used many years ago is Plantation Dive Shop.  It’s also in the same area.  They  have boats to rent and manatee diving charters, or you can just go on a boat ride on the river.  You will certainly see manatee during the winter months.  They rent scuba and snorkeling gear, including wetsuits.   A lot of people swim and dive in this river without wetsuits, but in my opinion, this “warm” water calls for a full wetsuit…including hood!

Right next door to the dive shop is The Plantation Golf and Spa Hotel.  It appears to be a very nice hotel and would be the one I would stay in if I was looking for a hotel on the water in Crystal River. 

After we took our kayaks out of the water, we drove around a little to see if we could find another area where there was pretty clear water by a spring.  I read that there are over 30 springs along this river.

We found Hunter Spring Park.  It’s just a little county park and seems pretty popular. There was a picnic pavilion with a bunch of guys drinking beer and smoking what smelled like pot!  Maybe a little more law enforcement might be in order.   I’m not sure I would want to leave our truck there all afternoon while we paddled the river.  There was a nice picnic and swimming area, as well as a boat/kayak launch.  The water was crystal clear and very pretty.

swimming area at Hunter spring Beach


Hunter Spring


Hunter Spring

Lots of wildlife.

Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Sea Gull, Mallard ducks.

Ibis at Hunter Spring

Great Blue Heron at Hunter Spring

Gull at Hunter Spring




The  Sea gull was kind of funny.  I was trying to take a picture of the water and kept moving into position.  As I walked closer and closer, he never moved, just stared at me.  I finally decided to take his picture when I was about 2-3 feet away from him.  No, that was not a zoom shot.  Smile

After we explored a while, we made a quick stop at the grocery store them home where Al cooked steaks on the grill.  Yumm…steaks, shrimp (on the barbie), baked potato's and corn on the cob. 

Today  our plan is to drive back to the Rainbow River and paddle up to that beautiful head springs.  Our weather has been beautiful all week, but may deteriorate over the week-end.   It may be now or never to get back to Rainbow River.  Personally, I would rather rest today, but it looks like that’s not happening!   This full time rv’ing life is tiring!  Can’t wait for the week-end so we can rest!   We try to do all our paddling during the week when there are less people around, so week-ends are rest time.

And now for the cute kitten picture (or 2-3) of the day.

Here is Baxter sitting on the steering wheel.  I have a video of him chasing his tail up there.

Baxter on steering wheel

Here he is sleeping next to his brother on the dash.


He’s growing so fast.  We wish he would stay small longer, but at least he’s not quite as fragile as he was when we got him.  I’m a lot more relaxed now.  Not that he can’t still get into trouble…and he’s constantly looking for it.


  1. nice day for paddle!! the windshield 'decoration'!!!

  2. Looks like you had a nice busy day paddling about, lots to see.

  3. GREAT photos and nice story... Love the pictures of Baxter. He really is growing fast. Yes our lifestyle can be hectic and that is a good thing!!! We are back at Rainbow Village in Largo for the winter... Hopw we can get together for lunch or something when you get back to the area.
    Have fun & Travel safe

  4. What a beautiful day and a great time on the water! Sorry you didn't get to see any manatee today....maybe another day!!
    Baxter is adorable! Love the pictures today!

  5. Big brother looks like he has accepted Baxter quite well. How many cats do you have? What are their names? Except for Squeeky and now Bater i don't think I have read much about them.

  6. I love the pictures of the clouds reflecting in the water. I could tell by looking at the photo of Baxter that he has grown. Enjoy!


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