The experienced guides at Tidewater Tours lead visitors throughout the Cedar Keys and Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges, giving them an up-close view of the tidal marsh eco-system and area wildlife. Their Suwannee River Tour explores the swampy environment of the famed waterway?immortalized in Florida's state song?and the Coastal Marsh tour takes passengers along a route that other boats rarely travel so they can spot migratory shorebirds with the help of Captain J. Michael O'Dell, a National Audubon Society member. And the Island Tour adventures to the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge islands, where dolphins, birds, and sea turtles can sometimes be seen, depending on the season and whether the animals are on their lunch breaks.
The captains helm the Megan June, whose shallow draft allows it to go where other boats can't, and the Princess Annie, a handicap-accessible vessel that can hold up to 34 passengers. And those who'd like to go off on their own explorations can rent a pontoon or skiff boat.
Captain Bear Smith leads intrepid crews of up to four guests on fishing charters down the scenic Crystal River. Forgoing the need for GPS or inquisitive text messages to Aquaman, amateur anglers can rely on Captain Smith's 15 years of experience as he guides his specially modified vessel on a four-hour excursion. Guests use the provided bait and tackle to attract a wide range of species including redfish, cobia, gag grouper, and mangrove snapper—click here to see stellar examples of past voyages' catches. Guests should bring a light jacket, sunscreen, a packed lunch, and a container to take home any caught fish. Start times will vary depending on the customers’ desired catch and fishes’ erratic lunch schedules.
To say that Captain Peter Williamson has been a scuba fanatic his whole life is somewhat untrue—he lived six whole years before even discovering what scuba diving was. A fan of the sport since the ripe old age of six and an avid diver since the age of 12, Captain Pete has attained three teaching certifications and a USCG 50-ton master’s license to captain a dive boat. When he’s not exploring coral or unpopular Atari game cartridges at the bottom of the ocean, he slings gear from all the major producers of scuba equipment in his dive shop.
Skyview Golf & Country Club’s 18-hole, par 72 course unfurls an emerald map of fairways and greens that span 7,142 yards of lakeside scenery. With four sets of tees, the course offers up a fun, par-hunting test for golfers of all stripes. The club complements its 18-hole masterpath with a staff of instructors led by Director of Golf Peter J. Summers, from whom golfers can gain swing-honing wisdom in on-site lessons.
The tour guides at Florida Manatee Tours & Crystal River Watersports ferry sightseers down the scenic Indian River waterways toward Kings Bay. On a two-and-a-half-hour boat tour, seafarers gaze along the shore at elegant waterfront homes, keeping peepers peeled for white-tailed deer, otters, and indigenous motorboats. Travelers soon arrive at the coast of the Crystal River Indian Archeological State Park, land that Native Americans first settled more than 10,000 years ago. Scenic wildlife-management-refuge areas brim with photo-worthy wildlife, keeping camera-wielders on their guard to snap shots of wild pigs, manatees, and aquatic yetis. Tours depart twice daily from the docks behind the Days Inn Resort.
Miller’s doles out floatable domiciles for festive forays into the natural wonder of Florida’s hinterlands. The day trip lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each boat comes with instructions and a map of the surrounding terrain, giving river rookies everything they need to become aquatic aficionados. Galley cats can whip up grub in the boat’s kitchen, or initiate topside barbecues with a gas grill on the boat’s deck, an ideal venue for watching the sunset or the moon bathe. Miller’s Houseboats travel at a leisurely 4–6 mph, and are each outfitted for comfort with floor-to-ceiling natural wood.