17 Crystal River Florida Facts And Things You Never Knew

The list of Crystal River Florida facts

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Manatees may have put Crystal River, Florida, on the map, but there are more fascinating facts about the place you must know.

Crystal River offers a fun road trip for people looking to escape the city for a while. 

You may have Manatees in mind and the desire to swim with them when planning a trip to Crystal River.

However, do not let that limit your adventure, so below are facts and things you never knew about this place. 

1. Crystal River is Also Called “Where Man and Manatee Play”

People go to Manatee to play and swim with Manatees.

The only areas in the United States where you can legally swim with these creatures are Crystal River and the nearby Homosassa, making them pretty unique.

Crystal River Florida facts
Man and manatee play

If you feel uneasy swimming with these gentle giants, you can kayak, dive, snorkel, or paddleboard alongside them.  

Did You Know? Crystal River hosts about 15 to 20 percent of the United States’ entire Manatee population, which is impressive.

These mammals migrate here due to the river’s warm temperatures, escaping winters’ harsh conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Be respectful when interacting with the Manatees.


2. Crystal River Is Home To Only The Western Indian Manatee Species

Globally, there are only three Manatee species.

They are:

  • West Indian Manatees
  • Amazonians
  • African Manatees

The West Indian Manatees are found in Crystal River, Florida.

It is worth noting that there is a debate on the number of Manatee species, with some claiming the existence of a fourth species.

Western Indian Manatee in Crystal River Florida
Western Indian Manatee

However, many scientists believe the dwarf Manatee species is the Amazonian Manatee subspecies. 

The West Indian Manatee is also called the North American Manatee.

The species is native to the Caribbean’s coastal areas from the eastern United States to northern Brazil.

These mammals live in herds or alone, navigate with their whiskers, and eat underwater plants.

3. Crystal River, Florida, Really Has A River

The region has a six-mile-long waterway that flows into the Gulf of Mexico and is fed by thirty springs, including Three Sisters Spring.

The river has warm water, which attracts Manatees.

Crystal River Florida shade
Beautiful Crystal River shaded area

Some biologists regard the Crystal River as the most vital refuge for United States’ Manatees.

Go to Shell Island at the Crystal River’s mouth DIY boating adventure.

Although this island resembles a sandy beach, these are oyster shells, so put on your shoes if you wish to explore the place.

You can go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding on Crystal river all year round. You will also see Manatees swimming underneath the water.

4. Crystal River Is An Excellent Location for In-Water Adventure

If you enjoy water-related adventures, you will love Crystal River, Florida, because of its crystal clear waters.

Crystal river fun in Florida
Crystal river fun

Since you can see through the water, you can easily view the vibrant life underneath, including Manatees, birds, fish, and turtles.

In Addition – You will see plenty of floating eelgrass bouncing from the river’s bottom.

You can also get into the water if you do not mind one-on-one interactions with Manatees.

So, swim or simply hang out in crystal clear waters. Every minute you spend in Crystal River will leave you with beautiful memories.

5. Human Activities In Crystal River Lower the Water Clarity

While Crystal River, Florida, is a hub for exciting human activities, they have been affecting water clarity.

For instance, snorkelers can make the water less clear by stirring up sediment and sand.

Crystal River Florida water clarity
The clarity of Crystal River Florida

Furthermore, there has been a surge in the growth of algae caused by increased nutrients and water salinity due to human activities.

Fortunately, crystal River’s restoration activities have minimized the impacts on the clarity of the water.

In Fact – These efforts ensured the springs have successfully kept their clear water, crystal clear Manatees viewings, and abundant, stunning green water.

6. Crystal River Was Home To Native Americans

Native Americans called Crystal River home in about 1000 BC and owned a six-mound complex that served as a ceremonial spot for over 1500 years.

This complex is preserved by the Crystal River Archaeological State Park and provides an impeccable area to see Crystal River’s history. 

Amazing Crystal River view
Crystal River view

The park has served as Native Americans’ ceremonial area for 1600 years. People would travel great distances to lay their dead to rest and trade.

The 61-acre site comprises a sizeable midden, a plaza area, platform/ temple mounds, and burial mounds.

It is open every day from 8 am to sunset, while the museum operates every Thursday to Monday from 9 am to 5 pm. 

7. Crystal River Was Named a Town In The Year 1903

In 1903, Crystal River was declared a town and became a city officially on 3rd July 1923.

Western Florida’s coastal city is located in Citrus County.

Crystal River town
Crystal River’s county

Currently, Crystal River’s county council has 5 elected members. When writing this article, the sitting Mayor was Joe Meek. 

The rapid growth along Hernando County’s west side as of the late 1800s saw the need to create a new county seat people could easily reach.

This led to Hernando County’s subdivision into Citrus County, Hernando County, and Pasco County in 1887. 


8. Crystal River Has A Rich History

The land where Crystal River sits today was totally in a different place during the Pleistocene era.

This is because Florida’s west coast is believed to have stretched an extra 80 km to 97 km (50 to 70 miles) into the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists discovered mastodon and rhinoceros bones and shells of an enormous land tortoise and armadillo in 1969 during the Crystal River Nuclear Plant’s excavations.

The history of Crystal river
Crystal river history facts

Also, the Crystal River’s Native American name is Weewahi laca.

The mound-building established by Native Americans was abandoned before European colonization.

Families started settling around Crystal River by the mid-1800s. 

Land battles did not occur in Crystal River during the Civil War.

However, skirmishes occasionally happened on waters off Homosassa and Crystal rivers’ coast and near Yankeetown’s Hickory Island.

Crystal River developed after the civil war as people from the Northern states came here due to the mild climate. 

9. The Arrival of The Railroad Boosted Crystal River’s Economy

The railroad got to Crystal River in 1888, proving to be a game changer to the area’s economy.

For Instance – It offered a more accessible and convenient way for tourists to get in and out of Crystal River. Sport fishing also brought in more wealthy westerners. 

In addition, the railroad made goods’ coming in and going out more accessible.

The Phosphate industry developed rapidly after discovering Phosphate in Citrus County’s east side in 1889.

Crystal River's economy in Florida
Crystal River kayaking

Historians claimed the phosphate deposits in the area to be the world’s richest. 

The Phosphate industry boomed in Citrus County and Crystal River until 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, which halted the mineral’s shipment. 

10. The Crystal River Springs Group Is Florida’s Second Biggest Springs

The Crystal River Springs is only second to Wakulla County’s Spring Creek Springs in size.

The Crystal River Springs comprises a 50 springs cluster.

It is a first-magnitude system since it discharges at least 100 cubic feet of water per second, translating to around 64 million water gallons daily. 

11. Dolphin Encounters in Crystal River, Florida, are on the Rise

You can set out to see dolphins after swimming with Manatees in Crystal River.

These funny creatures swim fast and are overall a delight to be around.

Dolphin encounters Crystal river
Crystal River, Florida’s wild dolphins

So, consider heading out on a boat to see Crystal River, Florida’s wild dolphins.

While they do not come out a set times, dolphin encounters are becoming more popular in Crystal River. 

If You Get Lucky – You might feast your eyes upon the wild dolphins feeding, splashing, or jumping sessions.

Depending on your tour service, you may also see impressive landmarks and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.

These include wild pigs, American bald eagles, and Indian mounds. 

12. Crystal River Offers A Remarkable Shark Fishing Experience

Head out to Crystal River for an adrenaline-inducing and intense action fishing for sharks.

You will encounter different shark species, such as:

  • bull sharks
  • tiger sharks
  • blacktips
  • sharpnose
  • and hammerheads

Shark fishing in Crystal River is an all-year-round activity, so there’s no specific time.

Shark fishing experience in Crystal River Florida
Shark fishing experience

However, peak shark fishing season starts in Spring and ends as Fall ends.

The best part is Crystal River’s weather is ideal for the activity, increasing the chances of catching these predators. 

Shark fishing is not for the faint of heart, though, since once they catch your bait, a battle commences featuring rod bending and drag ripping.

However, this makes the activity much more exciting.

13. The Crystal River Preserve State Park Is an Estuarine

The perfect terrain, temperature, and tides combination give the Crystal River Preserve State Park an estuarine and salt marsh environment.

The Crystal River Preserve State Park walk
Walking the Crystal River Preserve State Park

The river’s freshwater mixes with the Gulf of Mexico’s salty seawater, which is one of nature’s magic. 

What to Expect? If you visit this area, you will smell the intense and pungent salt marsh fragrances. This results from the salt smell mixing with the decomposing organic matter due to the rich life diversity.

While this area is not the best for humans, the ecosystem offers a conducive environment for animals and plants.

This is because it is rich in shelter, water, and the food they need for survival. 

The estuarine is a refuge for 75% of recreational and commercial fisheries in Florida. 

14. You Cannot Access Three Sisters Springs Directly From Land

Go to Three Sisters Springs for the cyan blue most transparent water you will find in Crystal river.

These waters are the perfect place for people who love lush greenery, nature, and wildlife.

Three Sisters Springs in Florida
Three Sisters Springs

Take time to take in the sight of wildlife in their natural habitat and hike along magnificent trails. 

While the above activities make the springs worth visiting, the popular things to do include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Paddling
  • Swimming with Manatees

However, before planning a trip to Three Sisters Springs, you should know that you cannot access these waters directly from the land.

You must put your swimming skills to use.

15. You Will Find A Hippo At Homosassa Springs

Do not finish a trip to Crystal River without heading to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs White State Park to see Lu the Hippo.

Homosassa Springs White State Park visit
Homosassa springs

Generally, hippos are not native to Florida, so it may be odd to find this animal here.

However, Lu is an honorary citizen of Florida. This is because the animal had lived in the park for a long period.

16. Ozello Boats Immerses You to the Past Natural Features of Crystal River

If you want to discover the ancient Mayan pyramids and canoes in Citrus county, book a tour on Ozella Boats.

The airboat ride will take you through the old natural characteristics of Crystal River, including cave fissures and mangrove forests. 

Booking Ozella Boats
Book a tour on Ozella Boats

Trips on these boats allow you to uncover the untouched parts of the terrain of Crystal River.

Moreover – You can observe different wildlife like manatees, pigs, deer, alligators, sharks, coral, bald eagles, birds, sea turtles, and stingrays.

Ozello Boats is a family-owned, prime tour agency managed by captains born in Florida. 

17. Turpentine Business Was Crystal River’s First Industry

Establishing a Turpentine business in Crystal River was possible because many barges carried this commodity during the blockade of the civil war.

This was probably from William Turner’s turpentine still.

Cedar mills were another industry to come about first in Crystal River.

Turpentine business in Crystal River
Turpentine business

The sector would generate and ship pencil boards to Jersey City by ship (the company started using trains after the railway arrived in the region). 

Among Crystal River’s largest industries was The Dixon Cedar Mills, which employed many residents, including African Americans and women. 



Crystal River, Florida, is fascinating and has a rich, exciting history.

It is best known today for being home to manatees, but it offers much more and is undoubtedly worth visiting.

Hopefully, the facts above helped you understand this city better.

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