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SCUBA Diving & Snorkeling in Citrus County

Abundant Dive Sites,
Warm Water, and Great Visibility!

Snorkel with Manatees

Citrus County Florida and the entire Nature Coast has numerous dive sites, inland springs, 72 degrees year-round temperature, underwater visability between 20 and 100 feet, no unpredictable seas, and no strong currents make diving and snorkeling in our area extremely enjoyable.

The variety and abundance of wildlife make Citrus County a year-round sporting activity paradise. It is not at all unusual to swim alongside a 70 pound tarpon (the world record catch was made off Homosassa) or see a pod of dolphins. Of course, the area is renowned for its wintering manatees.

The springs and rivers offer enjoyable experiences for everyone from novice snorkelers to experienced SCUBA divers. Four separate and beautiful springfed rivers cut into our gulf coast landscape. The most popular, the Crystal River, offers divers and snorkelers many unique opportunities. King's Spring, which is the main water source of Crystal River, has long been a popular dive site. The basin is about 75 feet in diameter, with a depth of about 28 feet. It is a perfect dive for beginners. For the more advanced divers, there is a cavern that dips to a depth of about 50 feet, so you do not lose natural daylight and the visibility in the cavern is always crystal clear. Basin visibility can vary from 10 to 80 feet, depending on conditions.

Citrus County is conveniently situated within a short drive to several of Florida's other unique dive sites and can serve ideally as a base of operation.

With several dive shops in the area, your every need can be catered, including instruction, guides, equipment rentals, even underwater video services. Although it is possible to venture out on your own with a private or rented boat, it is usually a better experience with a guide.

The Endangered Manatee

Scuba in the Springs

A manatee has a face only Mother Nature could love. Once you meet a manatee, you're hooked the official marine mammal of the state of Florida, manatees are nearsighted, slow-moving herbivores that average about 10 feet in length and weigh in at roughly 1,200 pounds. Amazingly, considering their size, manatees are remarkably gentle. They are not territorial and they have no natural enemies and no known agenda; they pretty much just swim, sleep and eat.

Crystal River is special because it supports the largest concentration of manatees in a natural spring area. Individual manatees often return to the same wintering areas year after year. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is unique in that it was established specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee. You are welcome to visit the refuge year round, however the best time to see the manatees is November through March when the weather is at its coolest and manatees seek the warm water springs.

The refuge is adjacent to the city of Crystal River and is famous for its clear waters and fantastic fishing. Six hundred million gallons of fresh water gush forth daily from more than thirty natural springs. The temperature of the water flowing from the springs is a constant 72 degrees. These warm waters are essential for manatee survival.

The refuge is accessible only by boat. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and make reservations with one of the many dive shops and marinas in town for a manatee snorkel tour.

Refuge islands and surrounding waters provide excellent habitat for a large number and variety of wildlife species. Some of the more common fish you may see are mullet, largemouth bass, alligator gar, crevalle jack and tarpon. Birds are also abundant. Common species you may see are laughing gulls, cormorants, anhingas, herons, egrets, ospreys and white ibis. With all of these natural wonders, it's easy to understand why Citrus County is often called "Mother Nature's Theme Park".

Manatee Encounter Guidelines

Swimming with the endangered manatees is a privilege most people may never experience. If you intend to enjoy this thrilling encounter, you must understand your responsibilities as a steward of the species and the environment, and follow these guidelines:

Snorkel the Springs
  • Become familiar with federal and Citrus County guidelines at a local dive shop or Refuge headquarters.
  • King's Bay (within the Crystal River area) is accessible only by boat. Therefore, make reservations with one of the dive shop/marinas in the area for a manatee snorkel tour.
  • Keep to the public area - do not enter designated manatee sanctuaries for any reason. Sanctuaries are in effect from November 15 - March 31. They are marked with orange-white buoys.
  • Do not stir up river bottom sediments.
  • Practice manatee-friendly behavior:
    • Be a passive observer.
    • Avoid excessive noise and splashing.
    • Use snorkel gear.
    • Never chase, poke or surround manatees.
    • Never separate a calf from its mother.
    • Never separate an individual manatee from its group.
    • Never feed manatees or give them water.
    • Take only as many photos for which the manatees will pose.

If you prefer observing manatees from a distance, visit the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park in Homosassa, FL on US 19 where manatees are in residence year-round. The huge windows in the underwater observatory are perfect for watching them frolic and pose for your photos. Also, arrangements can be made with local tour operators for manatee observation boat rides.

This page and all of the many pages about Citrus County Florida which we are offering you here on our site are meant to help you learn about our wonderful area. Where you build your new home is very important and we wish to provide you with as much information about the Citrus County Florida area as you need. If you have any additional questions or would like to know anything else about our area, please call us at 800-853-2363 and we would be more than happy to help you.

Information from various sources who also promote Citrus County, Florida. We thank them and share the same desire to inform you about the great area we live and work in, Citrus County, Florida.