Plantation on Crystal River, a Central Florida Gulf Coast Jewel

Plantation on Crystal River2When one thinks of visiting the Central Florida Gulf Coast, images of crystal clear springs, verdant green golf courses, manatees and great saltwater fishing generally come to mind. Plantation on Crystal River offers all of that and more.

Plantation on Crystal River is a hidden treasure nestled in a magnificent setting on 232 beautiful acres overlooking the pristine Crystal River.  The Plantation is a distinctive alternative to the everyday. Here, you’ll find spacious rooms, suites and golf villas with river views, as well as activities and amenities capable of satisfying both a child’s need for fun and your desire for relaxation. Many words have been used to describe the Plantation on Crystal River experience: welcoming, scenic, pampered, historic, ideal southern hospitality mixed in with great fishing and aquatic fun for the whole family.

The resort is a true multi-activity and multi-season destination.  Guests enjoy unspoiled natural surroundings abundant with history and endless aquatic adventures. Whether your dream vacation includes fishing with local guides by boat or special outfitted kayaks, swimming with the loveable manatee, taking a leisurely river cruise followed by a casual waterfront dining experience; the Plantation on Crystal River is truly your playground.

Plantation on Crystal River is situated adjacent to Kings Bay, the largest spring system in Citrus County, and is composed of more than 70 individual springs producing a total of 240 million gallons of freshwater a day. It flows westward into the 7-mile long Crystal River, eventually discharging into the Gulf of Mexico.

The main spring is Kings Spring, also known as the “Key Hole.”   It is the largest spring in Kings Bay and this is where you’ll find the largest collection of manatees. It is also one of the few locations where you can swim, snorkel and drift along with these gentle giants.

Plantation on Crystal RiverOne January day, when we were visiting the Plantation, we took our kayaks out on the bay and paddled over to the nearby Three Sisters Spring.  We saw more than 200 manatees and had several come up and lick our kayak. Swimming with these gentle giants should be on everyone’s bucket list. The best time of the year to view the manatees is December through early March, or whenever the Gulf of Mexico drops below 70 degrees. Manatees are cold intolerant and seek out the springs for their constant 72 degree water temperature.

The resort has an on-site dive shop that offers guided tours year round. They provide all of the equipment and training that is necessary for an experience of a lifetime.  On our most recent tour, there were visitors from all over the country and as far away as Europe as well.  If you are hesitant about getting in the water and swimming and snorkeling with the manatees, you can always take the daily one-hour scenic river cruise where you will also have a chance to view the manatees.

No matter what time of the year you visit, there is something to do.  If you visit July 1 through September 24, you can take a scalloping tour. If you have never scalloped before, it is quite easy.  You simply float along the surface or gently swim over the Gulf of Mexico’s expansive grass flats in four to six feet of water. When you see the vibrant blue “eyes” or the bay scallop’s well-recognized shell shape, hold your breath, take a shallow dive down, place either your hand or small dip net behind or under the scallop, and gently place it in your mesh bag.

The 50-year old Plantation Resort has been hosting divers and scallopers for years. The easy access to Crystal River’s Kings Bay and springs allows boats to take visitors for tours of all kinds – dive trips, manatee swims, and scalloping tours. The Plantation Scalloping Packages include a two-night stay with breakfast, guided scalloping trip, 1 dinner where the restaurant, West 82 Grill will cook your scallop catch.

Nightly rates run from $109 to $220 per night depending on the season and day of the week. There is also a resort fee of $14 per night, which includes services and activities meant to give you, your family and friends multiple ways to enjoy your time at the resort.  Some of the activities include:  WiFi , beach shuttle, beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, Free play on the 9 hole golf course, driving range, outdoor heated lagoon pool, hot tub. fitness center, tennis, pickle-ball sand volleyball, horseshoes, croquet, shuffleboard, corn-hole, Sea Wall slip for boat (based on availability), live entertainment (seasonal) and an on site Activities Director.

For more information, visit or call (800) 632-6262.

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