Crystal River is a small community located on Florida's Gulf Coast about 80 miles north of Tampa. It has a lot to offer, but it is widely known as THE place to see manatee. The near constant temperatures of the spring-fed river makes it a winter haven for these warm-blooded gentle giants. There are multiple companies that offer up-close encounters with the manatee, so it's usually easy to find someone to accommodate.

Being near the coast with deep water access, Crystal river is also a fisherman's paradise. There are numerous places to put a boat in the water, and from what I understand, the fishing is great. Both fresh water and salt water fish can be caught here.

Of course seafood is abundant here. There are several restaurants that can serve up the catch of the day, and do a very good job of it.

While visiting Crystal River, we stayed at Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park. Most of the sites here are privately owned, but there are still quite a few available for rent. This place is quite different than many other RV parks of this type. It's very homey and non-commercial feeling. And even though many of the sites host full-timers, it doesn't have that "trailer park" feel. In fact, this is one of those places I could see retiring to myself, at least part of the year.

Adventure Journal
Entry Date: December 2017
This trip was a Christmas present for the kids (and ourselves). We left the day after Christmas and drove all the way to Crystal River, Florida. Crystal river was the first stop of the trip, and the most memorable. The drive down was long, and when we reached Rock Crusher RV Park, we were tired and ready to relax. We walked around the park some, enjoying the relatively warm weather. We also checked out the pool, enclosed and heated with a large screen TV. Very nice and impeccably clean.

We had a boat and guides reserved at the Plantation at Crystal River
for December 27, and thankfully, the forecast was for partly cloudy skies and 75 degrees. We chose an afternoon dive hoping it might be warmer than an early morning dive. We were traveling with friends, and our party was 11. That justified having our own boat, and I'm so glad we did. Our captain/Guide was Ed Menster, and he really knows his stuff. We actually had two guides on the boat with us, but Ed was the one that got in the water and led us to the manatee. If we go back, we'll ask for him.

Plantation's dive shop provides all the dive gear including wet suits, and they are pretty necessary because 72 degree water is a little chilly to us southerners. Also included on the boat was coffee and hot chocolate, and we enjoyed it immensely. Ed spoke with a couple of the returning captains to find out where the best places were on that day to see manatee. We went straight to a great spot, and when we got in the water we saw one almost immediately. The pictures tell the rest of the story. We did take our GoPro camera and took lots of video, but the best pictures and video were from Ed. He documents the entire dive, and you can purchase a thumb drive that contains all the media back at the dive shop. It's very much worth it!

In summary, we lucked out with the weather and had a very pleasant time. It was exciting to see the manatee up close. We have to mark this one down as one of our favorite experiences. We'd do it again in a heartbeat!

We were pretty tired after the adventure. There's just something about being on a boat and the exercise of diving that wears you out. Our big plans of raiding the pool at Rock Crusher fell to the side as we enjoyed watching a movie in the camper.  

The Richardson Tribe

Other Destinations:
Amicalola Falls State Park
Beaches of South Walton.
Berry College
Big Kahunas
Biltmore House
Blairsville, Georgia
Callaway Gardens
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cave Spring
Cedar Creek Park
Charlestown State Park
Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Chattanooga Zoo
Chehaw Park
Cherry Hill Park
Chester Frost Park
Chieftains Museum
Choccolocco Mountain Off Road Park
Cloudland Canyon
Cloudmont Ski and Golf
Consolidated Gold Mine
Cohutta Wilderness
Crystal River Florida
Cumberland Island
Dauset Trails
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Desoto State Park
Doll Mountain Campground
Dunnaway Gap
Enota Mountain Retreat
Etowah Indian Mounds
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Florala State Park
Franklin D Roosevelt State Park
Fort Mountain State Park
Georgia Mountain Fairground
Georgia Veterans State Park
Gold n Gem Grubbin'
Helen Georgia
Hillcrest Orchards
James H Floyd State park
James Island Park
Jellystone Park- Cave City, KY
John Tanner Park
Lake Allatoona
Lake Sidney Lanier
Lake Winnepesaukah
Little River Canyon Center
Live Oak Landing
Lula Lake Land Trust
Mammoth Cave National Park
McIntosh Reserve
McKinney Campground
Moto Mountain Powersports
New Echota - Cherokee Capitol
Noccalula Falls Park details and pictures
Old Stone Fort Archaeology State Park
Pine Moutain RV
Red Top Mountain State Park
Ridge Ferry Park
Rocky Mountain Recreation Area
Rock Town - Pigeon Mountain
Rome GA
Salt Springs Recreation Area
Silver Springs
Stone Mountain Park
Tanglewood Farm
Tannehill State Park
Tellus Science Museum
The Southern Museum
Topsail Hill Preserve
Townsend KOA
Townsend Tennessee
Twinbrook Resort
Up The Creek RV Camp - Park Details - Pictures
US Space and Rocket Center - Details and Pictures
Vogel State Park
Wild Animal Safari
World of Coke
Zoo Atlanta - Details and Pictures


Rating (1-10)


Manatee Encounter - Plantation on Crystal River Dive Shop 9 I can't say enough about this experience. From the informative video at the beginning to the actual encounter, we always felt safe. We also have a better understanding and appreciation for the Manatee. Great destination!
Campground - Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park 9


Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park is a very nice park. Beautiful pool! Reservations cannot be made online at this time. You must call (888) 886-2477 or fill out a form to request a reservation.
Local Attractions


Crystal River Manatee Tours, Crystal River State Archaeological Park, boating, fishing, diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, and much more.
*Note: We rate only the amenities we have personally reviewed.

No financial consideration or favor has been received for listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way affiliated with this facility or any other facility we review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the reviews to be unbiased.

December 2017
Plantation at Crystal River Manatee Encounter

Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park