Thursday morning, I got up and walked over to a local dive shop and got a laminated chart of the Nature Coast Canoe-Kayak Trail, covering the area from Crystal River in the north, to the Chassahowitzka River in the south. We put the boats in the Crystal River and paddled around the corner, past Petes Pier Marina, under a bridge and into some canals. Several hundred yards up the canal, we rounded a turn to the left, and came to the entrance to Three Sisters Springs. You paddle between 3 or 4 pilings, spaced about 2 feet apart, and into the springs. I was not prepared for the beauty of this place. Crystal clear water, sandy bottom, palm trees along the bank, it looked like my dreams of a tropical paradise. It could have been anywhere in the Caribbean.
There were about 8 or 10 other snorkelers in the springs, but there was plenty of room for us. We paddled to one end of the springs, just stepped out of our boats, and swam for about 15 or 20 minutes. Again, the water was so cold that we couldnt stand it any longer. We loaded back up, paddled back out to the canal, and explored the neighborhood. Back out in Kings Bay, the wind had picked up quite a bit, and we bounced around on the whitecaps.
We found another spring in the bay, behind Banana Island, that was very deep. Im not sure exactly how deep, because I couldnt go that far down. There were scuba divers in the spring that were so far down that all we could see were their bubbles. We paddled back to Kings Bay Lodge, cleaned up and drove south to Homosassa to scope out the next days paddle.
King's Bay Lodge, Crystal River, Florida.
Nature Coast Canoe-Kayak Trail map, available locally for $10