Why the ‘Nature Coast’ has the most welcoming waters
Citrus County in Florida boasts the largest freshwater system in the region, and is rightly defined by water; from isolated, natural founts and spring-fed rivers, to busy, touristy lakes and tucked-away coastal bays. This network of rivers is of course the vital link to the manatee, as these glorious creatures flock in their hundreds to Florida each winter, to seek the warm spring waters; and there are multitudes of these natural groundwater flows that conserve the waterway ecosystems. One famous area, Kings Bay, is fed by more than 70 springs. The main draw of the region is the Crystal River itself, in the coastal city of the same name; it has the largest concentration of manatees worldwide. A trip here may touch the soul in ways that are hard to define and describe. Quite apart from the surreal experience of seeing and interacting with these wondrous creatures, this waterway assaults the senses in every way. Surrounded by swathes of citrussy orange groves, it boasts rivers that shimmer like transparent topaz, and is home to a host of impressive wildlife that includes bald eagles and four different breeds of sea turtle. It offers visitors a welcome, back-to-nature respite from their overwhelming lives.