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.
American Pro Diving Center helps visitors and locals explore the clear, teeming waters of Florida with year-round manatee tours and diving adventures. All-equipment-included manatee snorkel tours in Crystal River or winter expeditions to Homosassa River let snorkelers rub flippers with the rivers' large population of resident sea cows. In-water guides keep the experience safe and fun for both manatees and people, and snorkelers swim in between the gentle creatures, giving them a gentle pat or a canister of whisker wax.
For deeper subterranean adventures, the center offers classes that range from Discover Scuba Diving to full PADI open-water certification, in addition to specialty courses on rescue and wreck diving. Divers can plunge into one of seven diving excursions, including night dives in Rainbow River or mermaid line dancing in the lost city of Atlantis.
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.
Snorkel with Manatees' expert divers lead tours on underwater sojourns to discover peaceful manatees and environs beneath the waves. Offering both group and mini manatee tours year-round, the guides monitor each diver to ensure safe practice with the animals. Their Crystal River scallops tour scours the ocean floor for tasty scallops while avoiding crabs auditioning for The Little Mermaid revival, and the Snorkel with Manatees excursions explore the Crystal, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka Rivers on airboat. They also teach the fundamentals of their craft during discover scuba-diving lessons.
Thirty lanes bolstered by Brunswick IQ synthetic surfaces and Qubica automatic-scoring systems sprawl through the space at Manatee Lanes. The lanes center around family-friendly fun, with bumpers available for children as well as Vertiglow bowling, where lights and music elevate excitement without filling the holes in opponents’ bowling balls with toothpaste. After bowling victories or defeats, groups can refuel at the snack counter with pizza and burgers or a sports bar rife with televisions. For those who never tire of gaming, Manatee also counts a pro shop and game room among its assets.
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.