We started our day with a 5:30 AM departure from our hotel for American Pro Diving Center in Crystal River; from there we wet-suited up and took a short trip to swim with the manatees. What a wonderful experience. We snorkeled and floated above the manatees and they would rise and gently swim up to us so we could pet them on their backs and when they were really trusting of us...would roll over for us to rub their bellies as well. The fear and thrill of having one of these mammals swim directly under you by mere inches is one I will never forget.
We left the manatees and put in at the US 41 launching point of the Rainbow River for a 2.5 hour paddle up and down the river. We saw plenty of wildlife along the river including a nesting pair of sandhill cranes, a red-shouldered hawk and other nesting birds that we could not identify.
We ended the day by watching the sunset in the community of Cedar Key, Florida. There is a cement 8-pier fishing structure from which one can comfortably view the sunset. There are resident pelicans which add to the enjoyment. All in all a perfect day.
Some interesting buildings along the Rainbow River
Lunch on the river...