Friday, November 29, 2013

Updates from King's Bay, Crystal River, Florida

 After our experiment at Wekiwa Springs, we decided to head to Crystal River where a keen demand for rental kayaks results in better boats being available.  Specifically, we went to King's Bay, where manatees, wildlife, and fish compete with people who love to kayak, boat, paddleboard, swim, scuba and dive with manatees, wildlife, and fish.

  In the morning we rented  from Crystal River Kayak.  They offer several types of sit-insides, sit-on-tops and canoes for rent.  We used the Delta 14's, which are a nice size for the bay.  

   Before renting we were required to watch a Florida Fish and Wildlife video about interacting with manatees.  It encouraged passive observation, and documented all sorts of inappropriate interactions.

  There are several seasonal manatee protection areas in Kings Bay; near Buzzard Island, Banana Island and Warden Key, as well as some spring areas.  It has been clarified that seasons are dictated by Gulf of Mexico water temperature and not specific calendar dates.

  King's Bay, has inlets, canals and springs and an abundance of wildlife, which makes every paddle there interesting.  The undeveloped islands are all sanctuaries, but there is the manatee observation platform, as well as parks and launches along the shoreline where you can land.  And though much of the shore is developed, there are undeveloped sections.
a wood stork wandering through the marsh

  I love Three Sister's Springs, though the recent addition of a boardwalk around it does make it a little less magical.
heading into Three Sisters Springs
  Only one non-bridged island has a residence on it; Christmas Island.  The house was built in 1960 of bricks taken from an old railroad station in Lakeland.   I'm not sure how much use the house has, but it serves as a terrific bird sanctuary.

Dock at Christmas Island
  We saw many, many black vultures in many,  many places:  acting as a welcome to this tour location.
     working with cormorants to festoon a wonderful Christmas-shaped-tree.
      We also saw manatee,

     other birds (Coots, ibis, osprey, gulls, wood storks) and  fish in abundance.

  A new sighting this year was a skate, who unfortunately did not pose for a photo..

  In the afternoon we rented paddle boards from Bird's Underwater.   These were rotomolded plastic boards, with separate narrow fins.  On a quiet day, King's Bay is an enjoyable place for paddleboards, primarily because the water is calm enough to enjoy the board and, the water's clear enough, with enough creatures in it, that we benefited from the improved view.
Mark snapped a picture of the Traverse paddleboard, from Emotion Kayaks

A pamplet showing the manatee sactuaries (off limits areas) in the bay
A paddle blog with links to launches from selected areas in Ohio, Florida, Tennessee Pennsylvania, etc  kayak2u
Our 2012 Paddle, ( includes kayak rental links and google map.)    A 2010 Paddle
A 1985 article about Christmas Island being available to rent


  1. Whoo, hoo! What a great paddle and story! I'm sooo jealous. It was interesting to see a manatee paddling a kayak. And I'm happy to see you were finally able to find real kayaks to rent and are also enjoying paddleboarding. It is freakin' cold up here in Canada!

    1. Cold enough here that we bought new longer coats for our walks. I bet you're looking forward yo the snow though! And hopefully you will get to Florida this winter for your own adventures. Mark theorizes that renting paddleboards is more satisfying since there are less fit issue, but it would be nice to get a more experienced input on that.