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.
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.
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.
River-riders explore the natural beauty of West Florida's coastal region as they glide across the warm waters of the St. Martins Preserve on tours with Homosassa Jet Ski Adventures. Up to three can climb aboard WaveRunners for a jet-powered jaunt out to the Gulf of Mexico. Coast Guard–certified tour guide Captain Jake leads the tour, chauffeuring riders through the back estuaries of the Crystal River region without asking a pelican passerby for directions. After a short safety briefing and an instructional video on jet-ski operation, customers strap on life jackets and launch into the Homosassa River. The mangroves teem with wildlife, from long-legged herons to leaping dolphins to gentle manatees that swim alongside human watercrafts peddling handmade friendship bracelets.
With more than 25 years of experience at sea, Captain Greg and his crew guide manatee devotees of all ages on interactive dives in the Crystal and Homosassa rivers. Departure times are flexible, though groups are advised to get an early start as to not miss the manatee's morning ritual of daily affirmations. All the gear needed for the two to three hour tours, including snorkeling equipment and cowbells, is provided. Boats hold up to six people in addition to the mates, so families and friends can share the experience of swimming with the prehistoric mermaids in the river's mild waters. Tours are available year round, every day of the week, and require scheduling at least 72 hours in advance.
The Scuba Gym’s Try Scuba lesson shepherds schools of aspiring divers through two hours of underwater breathing practice spritzed with scuba-savvy tips and a family-friendly ambiance. After the certified instructor and assisting dive master divulge 30 minutes of diving dos and don’ts above the water, scuba students can affix fins to their land-dwelling feet, strap metal lungs to their backs, and submerge themselves in the siren-free waters of the National Training Center’s 70-meter dunk tank. Buoyant learners harpoon their newfound underwater existence by absorbing essential survival facts, such as clearing masks of fog or placating spooked seahorses. From there, an hour of diligently supervised aqueous amusement commences, with underwater scooter races, rounds of toy-torpedo launches, and whole-body corkscrews through hula-hoop rings.