SCALLOPING SEASON CRYSTAL RIVER
Crystal River is a very small town with a very big fishing problem!
Scallop Season every year in July brings thousands of people to Crystal River! If you like the water, scallops for dinner and fun, just head up to Crystal River and hire a boat to take you out in the shallow waters of the bay to gather scallops. It’s a fun day rewarded by some great eats. You can find boat Captains at The Plantation Inn and other locations in Crystal River. Our recommendation is to stop by the marina at the Plantation Inn and ask about the best time to go scalloping, the best charter captains and the snorkel equipment needed – of course our recommendation may include a beer or two at the Plantation Inn tiki bar a few steps from the marina.
An experienced guide generally furnishes you a mask and snorkel to find those little mollusks in a couple feet of water. The views will be gorgeous as you motor out to the shallows. The Crystal River basin has thousands of acres of shallow sea grasses that are the perfect estuary for bay scallops.
While late summer is scallop season, fishing for snook, redfish and trout is excellent in this area year round. Some of the charter captains can give you detailed assistance in planning a great inshore fishing trip. Off shore, grouper, snapper and other pelagics roam the clear gulf waters.
If you like manatees, there is a spring called Three Sisters Spring just a few hundred yards up the river. There, manatees gather for the cool refreshing fresh water. Some people can swim close to the manatees, but it is unlawful to touch them. You can visit the springs from the adjacent park.
Hungry? Try lunch at Crackers on the waterfront about a mile down the bay from the Plantation Inn. Food is average bar food, but the view of the bay is great! In “downtown” Crystal River you will find places to shop, eat and drink on Citrus Ave. a mile or two north of the Plantation Inn. One of the newest places we like is St. John’s Tavern. Total remodel of an historical building with great service and a LOT of draft beer choices. Down the street is the new Kane’s Cattle Company, which we didn’t try, but the locals say it is a great addition to the food scene. The steaks are superb and servers are attentive.
If you decide to make a day trip an overnight stay, The Plantation Inn is the grand old dame of the area. If you are looking for elegance, don’t bother, but if you want a convenient place to stay at a very reasonable price, the Plantation is the place. The hotel still has an inviting tiki bar outside and Plantation’s own golf course across the street. On one visit we watched a manatee lounging in the canal while we sipped a refreshment at the tiki bar. Plenty of boat rentals and dive information at their Adventure Center on the property.
You can also check out some charters to swim with the manatees.
This day trip is about an hour and a half from Tampa or Clearwater. From Orlando it is about a two hour day trip. (Last updated September 26, 2020).