Unforgettable: Kings Bay, Florida and the Manatee

by R Long
February 17, 2023

Kings Bay is a Town and a Bay in Florida

Kings Bay, Florida is a small, picturesque town located in Citrus County, Florida. It is well-known for its beautiful natural springs, crystal clear waters, and abundance of wildlife. It is surrounded by the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, which provides a safe haven for manatees and other marine life.

Kings Bay and the Gulf Basin in Florida

Kings Bay is situated on the Gulf of Mexico, and its pristine waters are fed by numerous natural springs. Kings Bay is also surrounded by a diverse array of natural habitats, including mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, making it a haven for wildlife.

The bay is home to over 50 species of fish, 250 species of birds, and numerous mammals, including the iconic manatees. The Bay is also home to various species of turtles, such as the loggerhead and green sea turtles, as well as dolphins and rays.

It is a hub of activity, with numerous attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. There are several local tour operators who offer boat tours and snorkeling trips that allow visitors to observe and interact with the Bay’s wildlife. The nearby Crystal River Archaeological State Park is designated as a national historic landmark. The park offers visitors a chance to learn about the area’s extensive history.

Visitors can also enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding in the Bay’s calm waters or explore the area’s numerous parks and nature reserves. There are also several local restaurants and shops that offer a taste of the local culture and cuisine.

The Three Sisters Springs, part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, offers a unique opportunity to view the manatee. From the vantage point at the spring, you can view the manatee without ever having to get wet. The refuge contains a boardwalk that winds around the springs. When the manatees are active, there are sure to be one or two in the Three Sisters Springs.

However, it is swimming with the manatee that is the most fascinating thing about Kings Bay. You can get a local tour but you can also just rent a boat yourself and take off into the Bay. You are sure to see at least a few when you are in the bay. Of course, you must abide by the local rules when it comes to swimming with the manatee. However, it is an unforgettable experience, whether you take a tour or pilot your own boat.

The Manatee at Kings Bay

Manatees are large, slow-moving marine mammals that are often referred to as “sea cows.” They are herbivores that feed on seagrass and can grow up to 13 feet in length and weigh up to 1,200 pounds. The mammals are known for their gentle nature, which makes them a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts. They are also an endangered species and are protected by law.

Kings Bay is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with manatees in their natural habitat. It is an experience that is not to be missed.

The manatees are NOT dangerous. They will not eat you. Most of their day is spent grazing on the seagrasses and other aquatic plants on the floor of the bay. It takes a long time for them to eat enough calories to sustain their large bodies. However, as they are mammals, they have to surface to get a breath of air before submerging again. They can stay underwater for as long as 20 minutes. Even when they sleep, and they do sleep, they must rise to the surface to breathe.


Swimming With The Manatee

kings bay

The best time of year to visit Kings Bay for a swim with the manatees is between November and April. During those months, as the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops, the animals migrate to the warm waters of the natural springs. They congregate in large numbers, making it easier for visitors to observe and interact with them.

When preparing for a swim, visitors should bring a few essential items. It is important to bring a waterproof camera or a GoPro to capture the experience, as well as a dry bag to keep personal belongings safe and dry. Visitors should also bring a towel, a change of clothes, a light jacket, and plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated throughout the day.

What to wear is an important consideration when preparing for a swim with manatees. Visitors should wear a wetsuit or a rash guard to keep warm in the chilly water, as well as a mask and snorkel to see underwater. A pair of swim fins is also recommended. It is important to avoid wearing sunscreen, as it can be harmful to the manatees and the delicate ecosystem of the natural springs. Instead, visitors should use eco-friendly sunscreen, wear a hat or a long-sleeved shirt for sun protection, and avoid wearing jewelry that could harm the animals.

Manatees are gentle and curious animals and are known for their friendly personalities. During the swim, visitors can expect to observe the manatees feeding, playing, and interacting with one another.

It is important to follow certain dos and don’ts to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both visitors and the animals. Visitors should always maintain a safe distance from the manatees and avoid touching or chasing them. It is important to move slowly and calmly in the water, as sudden movements or loud noises can frighten the animals. Visitors should also avoid disturbing the natural environment, such as touching or damaging seagrass or other marine life. Above all, it is important to respect the manatees and their habitat, as this is crucial for their long-term survival.

In Kings Bay, there are several tour options available for swimming with the manatee. Visitors can choose to join a guided tour with a certified manatee tour operator, which includes a brief training session on the dos and don’ts of swimming with manatees. They provide all necessary gear, including wetsuits, masks, and snorkels. Alternatively, visitors can rent their own kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and explore the natural springs on their own. Renting your own boat, wetsuit, and snorkeling equipment is also an option.

Other Things to do at Kings Bay

While swimming with manatees is undoubtedly the main attraction in Kings Bay, there are plenty of other things to do in the local area. Visitors can explore the nearby towns of Crystal River and Homosassa, which offer a range of shops, restaurants, and local attractions.

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River Archaeological State Park, and the Three Sisters Spring are also worth a visit. The area has scenic hiking trails and abundant wildlife, not to mention fishing in Kings Bay. It is rife with a variety of freshwater and saltwater species, just waiting to be caught.

Visitors to Kings Bay will find a range of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. From waterfront seafood restaurants to casual cafes and diners, there is no shortage of places to eat and drink in the area. Some popular choices include the historic Vintage on 5th restaurant in Crystal River, which serves up classic American cuisine, and Charlie’s Fish House Grill in Homosassa, which offers fresh seafood and stunning river views. For a more casual experience, visitors can head to the quirky Monkey Bar & Grill in Homosassa, which serves up cold drinks and pub fare in a laid-back setting.

A visit to swim with the manatees is a must. Not only will you have the opportunity to interact with these gentle giants up close, but you will also get to explore the natural beauty of the Crystal River area. Whether you choose to join a guided tour or explore the springs on your own, swimming with manatees is a one-of-a-kind experience. And with plenty of other attractions and activities in the local area, a trip to Kings Bay offers something for everyone. So why not plan your visit today and enjoy the magic of swimming with manatees for yourself?

The Weather of Kings Bay

The weather in Kings Bay, Florida is generally warm and sunny throughout the year, making it a popular destination for all outdoor activities, although swimming with the manatee is the main attraction for Kings Bay. However, there are some variations in temperature and precipitation depending on the season.

The summer months of June through August are typically the warmest, with temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 80s Fahrenheit (around 30°C). This time of year also sees the most rainfall, with frequent thunderstorms and occasional tropical storms. The high heat and humidity levels can make outdoor activities uncomfortable, but the cooler waters of the springs can provide a refreshing break from the heat.

In the fall and winter months, temperatures begin to drop slightly, with average highs in the 70s (around 20-25°C). These months also see less rainfall, making it a more comfortable time to be outdoors. The cooler temperatures can also make for more active manatees, as they seek out the warmer waters of the springs. As such, fall and winter are considered the best times to swim with manatees, as they are more likely to be in the area and easier to spot.

Springtime in Kings Bay is generally mild and pleasant, also with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s (around 20-25°C). This is also a popular time for outdoor activities like kayaking and hiking, as the weather is comfortable and the wildlife is abundant.

In general, the best time to swim with manatees in Crystal River is from November through March when the water is cooler and the manatees congregate in the warmer waters of the springs. Visitors can still enjoy the warm waters of the springs and plenty of outdoor activities throughout the year. However, it is important to check weather conditions and manatee behavior before planning a trip to ensure the best possible experience.

Read more about the Florida manatee at Guide For Seniors. Swim one time with them and you will always go back for more. And if you decide not to get wet, you can walk around the Three Sisters Spring and enjoy the sight of the manatee from above.

There are many places to stay in Florida. In addition, there are many all-inclusive resorts in the state. Check out this guide to the best all-inclusive resorts in Florida. We know there is something there for you!

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