Stand Up Paddle Boarding Around Florida : Crystal River Kayak and Dive Center
Recently part of the GlideSUP team went to Orlando Florida to attend the SurfExpo.
As our Warehouse is in Utah, and Surf Expo happens to be in January, of course, we needed some sunshine and paddling adventures.
Our first stop: Crystal River Kayaks
They purchased 6 of our SUP rental specific boards 8 years ago, and we were excited to see how the boards still were. As we drove up, you couldn't help but be amazed at this little zen garden RIGHT OFF the highway. The rental process was easy and affordable. The staff chatted with us about how much they loved our rentals and how great they were still doing in their 9th season. That's always lovely to hear.
They outfitted the boards with life jackets, made sure the adjustable paddles fit us, and sent us on our way.
As you leave the dock area and turn to the right, everything you think you were expecting to see falls apart. Instead, you are surrounded by the most gorgeous site, and the noise of the road is non-existent. Light green water flows in a canal, and the trees loom overhead, protecting you from all wind, and thoughts that you are near a city.
It's easy to paddle and such a beautiful distraction. Around the next bend, you see this cute little bridge that looks like it should be in a fairy tale and you get to paddle under it. AHHHH the child in me so way too excited. Through the tunnel to another fork in the canal waterway. To the right again takes us through more trees, and you begin to see houses lining the banks. I can't help but think what it must be like to live waterfront.
We are getting closer to the entrance of the springs and to my right, there is a mom and baby manatee just swimming along. It's so easy to see them from a paddleboard. (I would recommend it over a kayak simply because the higher up you are the easier it is to see the manatees) There were at least 60 in the time we sat there. The perfect temperature and the sun warming our backs. These manatees swim right up to you, poke their nose out of the water. They enjoy seeing humans I'm sure as much as we enjoy them. There is a certain level of respect you should give the animal. Don't initiate contact, like hugging, or touching. Allow them to come to you. Consent counts even with animals. But when you sit there still, they swim to you, and engage it's something magical.
And it's only a 15-minute paddle. What a perfect day!