The Plantation Crystal River is a stately southern mansion at the end of a tree-lined street. Off to the sides are spacious rooms concealing a secret respite where you can be as active, or in-active as you’d like.
How to Get to the Plantation on Crystal River
The Plantation on Crystal River is about 90 minutes north of Tampa. This area is old Florida. There are no neon signs, or precisely groomed gated communities. It’s more mom and pop vs. big box.
Plantation on Crystal River is a year round resort surrounded by the natural springs of King’s Bay. In the summer it fills with golfers and those embarking on an aqua treasure hunt for scallops. In the wintertime, when it gets cold, the manatee bring visitors to Plantation on Crystal River. We visited in January, prime manatee season, but also a great time to golf. During our stay, the 9 hole course was $12 and club rental 50% off. In addition to manatee tours, the Dive Shop on site can rent a number of different watercraft for fishing or set you up with a fishing guide. There are also kayaks, skiffs and other pleasure crafts. Close by is the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Refuge.
Swim with the Manatee
Our reason for visiting was to swim with the manatees. We visited with some friends who lived in Tampa. They had been previously at another time of year with another vendor. In their opinion, the Plantation on Crystal River was a superior experience. Mostly because we saw a lot more manatee (time of year matters), but also because they felt the equipment, wetsuits and snorkel and mask were in very good shape which made a big difference. Apparently the grade of the wetsuit they use will also keep you warmer in the constant 74 degree water.
Beyond the Manatee
Although Plantation Crystal River is a sportsmans paradise, after the buzz of the holidays, a three day lacrosse tournament, and the early morning wake up call for the manatee, we were beat. Hanging out at the hotel with nothing to do and nowhere to go was a welcome treat. We played shuffleboard, horseshoes and watched a little croquet. The heated pool and hot tub were just what the doctor ordered after our chilly morning on the bay. The highlight of the afternoon was a family volleyball game, parents against kids. The fact that we kept hitting it into the channel and had to fish it out with the pool hook made the game all the more interesting. Afterwards, we cozied up to the Tiki Bar for a killer blackened grouper sandwich and some smoothies. Plantation on Crystal River also has a dining room with a delicious looking menu and a substantial buffet breakfast.
Rooms at Plantation at Crystal River
Rooms here are older and more spacious that a normal hotel room. We stayed in a suite with a pull out couch. There was plenty of room for our air mattress too, which made the boys happy because no one had to share a bed. Our friends had a first floor room with a patio. Both rooms came with a refrigerator and the suite also had a microwave. The first floor patio is shared by all the rooms, but it’s where we ended up hanging out during our stay. It was nice to sit outside with a glass of wine, watch the kids play in the grass along the channel. If you have young ones, you’ll want to watch them. The channel was outside our door and it would be easy for a curious toddler to fall in. For those who can’t be away from your computer, wi-fi was free and worked well.