Come experience first-hand the majesty and gentleness of one of God's most amazing mammals - the West Indian Manatee! The Reef Ministries Manatee Tour is an ideal Christian weekend activity for the whole family. Perfect for swimmers and non-swimmers, from kids to grandparents. You will have the opportunity to see manatees up close - both in State Park wildlife habitats and in the water snorkeling with them!
Our weekend adventure starts on Saturday when we meet at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. We will have a boxed picnic lunch in our own pavillion where we will enjoy fellowship and a Reef Ministries presentation relating to God's creation of manatees. Then it's on to an educational program about the West Indian Manatee, followed by your own leisurely tour of the beautiful park. After your time at the park you may drive 15 minutes north to Crystal River and check into your hotel. Get a good night's sleep as we will be snorkeling with the manatees first thing Sunday morning!
Sunday morning starts very early at 6:15am. When you arrive at the Bird's Underwater Dive Center you will be shown a video (filmed in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service) which demonstrates how you should behave when you are interacting with manatees in the water. After viewing the video, you may get your rental wetsuit and snorkeling equipment, or change into the gear you brought with you. We will start our day with a devotional worshiping our Lord. Next, you and your Coast Guard Certified Captain will proceed to the dock area and board one of the enclosed pontoon boats, where fresh donuts and coffee are available, free of charge (hot chocolate and juice are also available). All boats have changing rooms and toilets.
While you are touring Kings Bay in search of manatees, your friendly and knowledgeable Captain will answer any questions you have about the local ecosystem. After the Captain has found a good location, he or she will drop anchor and everyone will quietly enter the water and snorkel with the manatees. The Captain will join you in the water, to supervise your experience and shoot digital quality videos, which you may purchase.
The Florida Manatee Tour lasts approximately three hours (depending upon a variety of conditions). Your tour may not return until after 11:00 a.m., so if you are staying in a hotel, you should request a late checkout time. Lunch is on your own, but we will recommend a place to eat together and reflect on the trip.
February 26, 2011:
12:00 p.m.-12:15 p.m. Check-in at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park West Entrance
12:30 p.m. Lunch and Creation Presentation
1:30 p.m. Manatee Educational Program
February 27, 2011:
6:15 a.m. Check-in and Devotional at Bird's Underwater Dive Center, Boat Departure, Tour and Snorkeling
11:00 a.m. Boat Returns
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park West Entrance
9225 West Fishbowl Drive
Homosassa, FL 34448
click here for map
Bird's Underwater Dive Center
320 NW Highway 19
Crystal River, FL 34428
click here for map
Dates & Prices
February 26 & 27, 2011
$79 Children (12 & under)
Price includes park admission, box lunch, creation presentation, t-shirt, snorkeling equipment rental, and manatee snorkeling tour.
Price does not include accommodations or wetsuit rental. Dinner Saturday and lunch on Sunday are on your own.
$$ Best Western This hotel is in walking distance to Bird's Underwater Dive Center.
$$ Holiday Inn Express
$ Econo Lodge
If you are staying in a hotel, you should request a late checkout time.
Towels & Warm Clothes
Money for crew gratuities
What's it like to swim with manatees?
Manatees are very gentle and very social. The best way to interact with the manatees is while snorkeling motionless at the surface. You may only interact with manatees when they approach you. In fact, it is against the law to chase after manatees or disturb them in any way. The more relaxed and calm you are in the water, the greater the chance of having a manatee swim right up to you! They may even roll over on their back for you or give you "kisses".
Who can participate in snorkeling?
To participate in snorkeling with manatees, we ask that you know how to swim and be comfortable in the water. It is also important to have good control and maturity. Small children who splash around and screem may scare the manatees away for the rest of the group. This is an interpretive adventure, the more one is comfortable and calm with the activity of snorkeling, the better the experience will be to absorb the beauty of God's manatee. Please call if you have questions regarding yours or other's abilities to snorkel with the manatees.
We are coming from out of town. Where can we worship?
Worship is very important and with such a full weekend it may be difficult to fit in a church service. We will be doing a devotional early Sunday morning prior to our boat trip. However, you may be able to worship in Crystal River on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. Here is a search listing of multiple churches in the Crystal River area for you to choose.
Simply click "Reserve Now" here or the button below. You will be taken to our secure reservations site where you may choose your tickets and rental options with a variety of payment options. If you have any questions please call (954) 495-7810.