Crystal River

USA East


Submitted By:
Owen DeLong

Submitter Comments:
Crystal River is a fresh water river complex fed by warm freshwater springs. It offers a variety of fish (mullets, catfish, tarpon, etc.) and many Manatees. I found the manatees were friendly and unintimidated by SCUBA. Sadly, all of the manatees I saw had suffered multiple prop injuries. If you do boat in manatee territory, please look out for them. This is an easy site to dive and offers a good environment for beginners. Maximum depth is around 40 feet. The water is in the mid 70s to low 80s year round and I was comfortable diving in a 3-mil skin.

 I know it can be shore-dived, but, I don't know a lot of the details of shore diving this site. I dove it from a small inflatable. I know it's in the North Western section of the Florida Peninsula, and, I believe it's a state park. Sorry I don't have more information. I only dove there once.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

11/26/2017 Jennsnina (Avg: 3.41 Review) - NOT a scuba site. We went snorkeling and had a blast. The outfitters dump 50 -100 snorkelers at 8 and at 10 for 15 minutes each near Banana Island. We went between the scheduled mass events and had a dozen Manatees who wanted to interact with us all to ourselves!

08/13/2013 Anonymous (Avg: 3.32 Review) - The river has already been covered pretty well but the springs could use some more. This covers a large area and conditions will vary greatly. I will just cover Three Sisters Spring, one if not the main spring attraction. The water is incredibly clear. A constant 72 degrees. Not much animal or plant life in the spring but enough to give you something to look at. I would say the spring is about perfect for new divers to get familiar with their equipment. Like diving in a pool but still have things to see. Max depth is 12 feet and you can actually see the water flowing out from the spring. A few down sides. The place is packed when the tourists and vacationers come in. Stay away on a weekend unless you come early. The land around the spring is private property. That means you have to stay in the water. I would rate it perfect for snorkeling, beginning divers, kids and just lounging about in the awesome water. If you are looking for a real scuba adventure look elsewhere.

10/23/2012 Troy Ochowicz (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Snorkeling the river here is great. Manatees are so friendly here they will come right up to you. You can snorkel the river but you need to be a little clever about finding an entry location. There are a few parks on the river that have access. To see manatees in the river you need to go in the fall to spring when the ocean gets too cold for them. The best time is when they start coming in in the fall. We had dozens come up to us last time we were there.

08/14/2005 Jason Saybrook (Avg: 3.85 Review) - If you are looking to dive from shore you could start at Hunter springs park. There is a nice spring dive from the beach area, and there are also great dives from boats: 3 sisters, king spring, and many others. Boat rental around area is pretty cheap, around $7.00 an hour for a jon boat.

04/18/2005 Owen DeLong (Avg: 3.34 Review) - Crystal River and Crystal Springs are a vast area incorporating many dive sites, but, all have similar properties. The particular sites in this review are Banana Island (Manatee Preserve) and Twin Sisters. Banan Island is a fantastic site for manatee encounters. There are many manatees present and they are very friendly and accommodating to people. Indeed, many of them are even social, approaching groups of people and tumbling themselves to get their bellies scratched. They are incredibly gentle and very docile. Although strange in appearance, they have an amazing friendly and "so-ugly-it's-cute" quality that is hard to explain. There are also some caverns and swim-throughs and a wide variety of mullets, catfish, tarpon and other wildlife. I entered the site via boat, so I can't evaluate the shore entries, but a number of possible shore entries were visible from the site, including some docks with ladders that appeared to be public access. (Giant stride entry off the dock, ladder for exit)

04/06/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 4.19 Review) - Fun dive! Recommended for all divers of all ages and skill! Also great to snorkel! There are over 400 manatees in Crystal River, not to mention lots of other life, coral, everything! A must for any Florida diver!

03/27/2005 Jason NYC (Avg: 2.90 Review) - I honestly don't know where one might "shore" dive this river but I am sure it is done. My wife and I have snorkeled here from a small boat and did pass lots of private homes along the way so one surely could jump off a back yard and snorkel it very easily if you have access to the shore. Much of Crystal River is very shallow and would be a pain to scuba anyway, and I believe in some locations SCUBA isn't allowed. That's what we were told by the dive op anyway. We snorkeled with the gentle and friendly manatees in a shallow area and then did a dive in Kings Bay Cavern, a small cavern with an opening in about 15 feet of water located in a boat traffic lane a long surface swim from any decent "shore" I recall seeing around. Like the Florida Springs, temp was about 72 and viz in Crystal river runs from 10 feet to 100 feet depending on your location and amount of plant life etc in the water. I highly suggest time spent with these loving creatures. Just some thoughts on Crystal River that may help even though we didn't shore dive it… Ned DeLoach's comprehensive DIVING GUIDE TO UNDERWATER FLOIDA has a really detailed 3 page section devoted to Crystal River and its many springs. I highly suggest this book for any diver in Florida! Ned only says, "A boat is needed to dive in the bay and canals." Perhaps a future reviewer or local diver will add more info as to shore diving this wonderful river.

Dive Site Pictures:
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Diver Averages for  Crystal River  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.00
Bottom Conditions:  3.43
Reef Conditions:  3.29
Animal Life:  4.43
Plant Life:  3.43
Facilities:  2.71
Solitude 2.57
Roads:  3.29
*Site Average:  3.43

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.86
Beginner Scuba:  4.00
Intermediate Scuba:  3.71
Advanced Scuba:  3.14
Night diving Scuba:  3.29

Number of reviews for this site: 7


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