Tours and Tickets

Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour provided by River Ventures Manatee Tour Center

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Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour

COVID-19 update: See the added health and safety measures this experience is taking.Read more
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2 adults
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Travel safe during COVID-19
What you can expect during this experience
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
  • Hand sanitizer available to travellers and staff
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
Updated 20-06-21 Safety precautions are provided by the property and are not checked by Tripadvisor for accuracy.
Updated 20-06-21 Safety precautions are provided by the property and are not checked by Tripadvisor for accuracy.
On this quintessential Florida adventure, you'll observe the endangered West Indian Manatee in Florida’s Kings Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Cruise the Crystal River in a luxury pontoon boat that is fully enclosed and heated during winter (the best time to see the manatees). This small-group experience is designed to view the animals without disturbing them. Plus, if manatees are spotted, you'll slip on your fins and snorkel and swim alongside them. 
  • See and swim with manatees if they're spotted
  • Ride in a luxury pontoon boat that's heated in winter 
  • Fully narrated tour reveals little-known info 
  • A small group ensures personalized attention
What to Expect
Make your own way to a designated meeting point,  where your Coast Guard Certified Master Captain will share the itinerary and go over rules for snorkeling with the manatees. Slip on a wetsuit and board a covered pontoon boat (in the winter, it’s fully enclosed and heated). As you slowly enter into the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, keep an eye out for birds, fish, and other wildlife who call the area home. If manatees are spotted, you can slip into the water with them, staying at a respectful distance all the while. The best time to see the manatees is in the winter when they cluster in the warmer upstream waters of the reserve. An underwater photographer snaps shots throughout the day, and you can purchase photos or DVDs of your experience once back at the Manatee Center.
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Important Information
Departure Point
498 SE Kings Bay Dr, Crystal River, FL 34429, USA
Return Details
Returns to original departure point
  • Use of equipment (mask, snorkel gear and wet suit)
  • Beverages (bottled water, coffee and hot chocolate)
  • Professional guide
  • Introductory/instructional video offered in English, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish
  • Gratuities
  • Food and beverages (unless otherwise specified)
  • Photo DVD (available to purchase)
  • Towel and swimsuit
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Additional Info
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Adult pricing applies to all travelers
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Wetsuits are available in sizes from toddlers (2 years old and up) to adults up to 5X
  • It is advised that you have your swimsuit on underneath your clothes for a quicker check-in
  • Please bring a towel and a plastic bag to hold your belongings
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Children Under 3 years old are not allowed on this tour. Please call for other options.
  • Most travellers can participate
  • Post COVID-19 Policy- We are mindful to thoroughly clean water vehicles between visitors.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 6 travellers
Cancellation Policy
For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
Traveller rating
  • 306
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Traveller type
Time of year
Popular mentions
James C wrote a review Jan. 9
Birmingham, Alabama8 contributions4 helpful votes
Sky and Chip are amazing! You should join in on the experience with them as guides. You cannot go wrong with this outfitter! This group is also conscious and respectful of the manatee whereas a lot of the wannabe outfitters are not. I highly recommend this long-established tour
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Date of experience: January 2021
Shannon wrote a review Jan. 4
South Carolina451 contributions154 helpful votes
I have wanted to go on a manatee excursion for a while. After reading several reviews and chatting with the staff, I decided on the VIP manatee tour with River Ventures. It seemed like the best package for my family of 4. High on my list was small group size (there were 6 of us
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Date of experience: December 2020
Suzanne R wrote a review Jan. 2
3 contributions
What a fun and wonderful experience!! Gloria and Hailey were awesome and made the trip so fun for our family! I even got a couple manatee kisses. Highly recommend this tour.
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Date of experience: December 2020
Olivia F wrote a review Jan. 2
Campbellsville, Kentucky2 contributions1 helpful vote
We did get to see a few manatees on our tour, none of them came close enough to touch unfortunately, still neat nonetheless! BUT the pictures the “photographer” took were terrible!! Not one single picture of my self or husband with manatees, and all the others were blurry or
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1 Helpful vote
S Mac wrote a review Jan. 1
Sarasota, Florida8 contributions19 helpful votes
Online sign-up was a breeze and quick. I picked this tour for the limited number of (6) people and this company because of their Covid policy on their website. Plenty of (free) parking in their lot. Everyone was masked during check-in & orientation. Very efficient,
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Date of experience: December 2020
1 Helpful vote
Response from RiverVentures, Manager at Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour
Responded 2 weeks ago
Thank you so much for this thorough and awesome feedback. We love to hear the good stuff, but we really do appreciate criticism that drives us to be better at what we do!! Currently, we have made many adjustments due to covid ..... we strive to keep our customers safe and comfortable! Dave and ross are super and passionate about what they do....but we want to fill them in on your feedback so they can get even better!! Thanks again for reaching out, and we hope to see you again in the future!! Best wishes for an awesome New Year!
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About the operator

Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator.

By: River Ventures Manatee Tour Center
Experience of a life time
We had an amazing time swimming with the manatees, the water was perfect to see so many. Our guides were Wade and
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Great manatee trip!
Our family went out with Wade and Trisha and they were the best! They knew all the best places to go and were super
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Very rude and unfriendly
We were not happy with this trip. We love the manatee and crystal river, it did not seem like they care about the e
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No matter where your staying in Florida, this is worth the drive!
My husband travels a lot for work, so we only get to take one family vacation a year and we picked Florida this tim
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It was fun to swim around and Brie the manatees
This trip was amazing five stars I would do it again the only problem was the scuba mask but I think that was just
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Very patient and laid back. I cannot swim and was anxious to do this excursion. Chip and Sky made the experience wo
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Captain Mike and Dustin provided the BEST Manatee Snorkel
Loved the pictures Dustin took! (One attached) Captain Mike took us to our requested location Three Sisters Spring
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Donna M
Amazing up close encounter with manatees
This was an excellent way to spend an afternoon. We had Trish as our guide and Wade for our captain. They were both
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Great people and amazing experience!
Did this activity with my 19 year daughter and two of her friends. So awesome to be able to swim with these gentle
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Snorkeling with manatee
We went snorkeling with the manatees. The office staff was great as well as Captain wade and Trish. We will be te
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Best trip ever
I had the most amazing trip floating around with the manatees today. The entire staff was great from the minute we
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Family Fun Day So glad we purchased the private create your own day. We enjoyed the manatee, snorkeling, and bay cruise
Our guides greeted us with a smile and assisted us from start to finish! Great conversations, very knowledgeable, a
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A must-do experience!
Our family of 5 (teenage aged) did the 8:15 tour on December 30th 2020. From the time we arrived and put on our wet
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Super fun over all
We went with Captain Emerson and our Guide was Lindsey. They we really nice funny and we saw plenty of manatee wher
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One of the best things I have ever done!!
Our trip was cut a little short because of the busy weekend and fluctuation of temperature. Though, I am still givi
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Key Details
  • Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, River Ventures Manatee Tour Center, and 1 more
  • Duration: 4h
  • Mobile Ticket Accepted
  • Free Cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
  • Instant Confirmation
  • Languages Offered: English
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Frequently Asked Questions about Small Group VIP Manatee Pontoon Tour