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Manatee Swims, Dolphin Encounters and Other Marine Wonders

Program Number: 2615RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/16/2014 - 3/22/2014; 11/9/2014 - 11/15/2014; 1/25/2015 - 1/31/2015; 2/22/2015 - 2/28/2015;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Naples, Florida
Price starting at: $1,365.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Water Sports
Meals: 18; 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Join us in Florida’s ‘backyard playground’ to snorkel with manatees, kayak the emerald green waters of Florida’s mangroves, watch dolphins swim playfully in bays and much more! Delight in a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you swim with manatees at Crystal River, and observe dolphins, manatees and other marine life on a boat excursion in beautiful Estero Bay. Join a local author for a kayak adventure on the calm waters of the Chazzowitzka River looking for exotic species.




Highlights

• Join naturalists at Homosassa Wildlife Park for an opportunity to see Floridian mammals and birds in their natural surroundings.
• Visit the Manatee Park in Fort Myers, one of Southwest Florida's greatest treasures.
• Explore the Mote Marine Research Center and Aquarium.



Activity Particulars

Kayaking 3-4 hrs at a time; Walking 1-2 miles; 1.5 hours of snorkeling and swimming with the Manatees. Non-snorkelers can observe from the boat.



At Homosassa Wildlife Park, there is an optional, private narrated walk given by the Group Leader, a Florida Master Naturalist .



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Naples/Fort Myers, 3 nights; coach to Crystal River, 3 nights then return to Fort Myers/Naples for departures.




Naples

Named for the Italian city and only two miles west of Picayune Strand State Forest, Naples is part of the Paradise Coast vacation area that includes Marco Island and the Everglades. The city is home to a thriving arts scene and nourished by its clean beaches and many championship golf courses.



Key Largo

The most northern of the Florida Keys, Key Largo is a popular diving and sports-fishing destination. Kayakers, birders and eco-tourists flock here because of its location between the Everglades and the country’s only living coral reef. At nearby John PenneKamp State Park, visitors can take snorkeling, diving or glass-bottom boat tours of the reef.



Key West

Real estate in America’s southernmost city dates back to the kings of Spain. Key West’s raffish charm has attracted the likes of John James Audubon, Thomas Edison, Lou Gehrig, Ernest Hemingway, Harry Truman, Tennessee Williams and colorful characters who stroll past palm-lined streets, gingerbread mansions and conch houses to celebrate the sun.



Fort Myers

The city of Fort Myers boasts beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, but it is more than a seaside resort. It is the site of a Civil War battle and was chosen by both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford as a location for winter estates. In late winter, Fort Myers welcomes baseball’s Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, who hold spring training here.



Crystal River

Crystal River is a city on Florida’s Nature Coast known as the “Home of the Manatee.” During the winter, when water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico cool, more than 400 manatees take up residence in Kings Bay. The large, loveable sea cows aren’t the only fascinating wildlife here — you can also find alligators, colorful birds and more.



Accommodations
Naples: Hotel with in-ground pool; Crystal River: eco-friendly luxury resort.
Meals and Lodgings
   SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott
  Naples FL 3 nights
   The Plantation Golf Resort
  Crystal River,FL 3 nights
 SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott
Type: Hotel
  Description: All spacious studio suites with separate areas for living, eating/working and sleeping. Free high speed Internet access, local phone calls and faxes, fitness center featuring Cybex cardio equipment. Suites featuring a pantry area with a small refrigerator, sink, microwave and coffee maker. Large well-lit desk, voice mail and free high-speed Internet access Flat panel 32 inch high definition televisions.
  Contact info: 3798 White Lake Blvd
Naples, FL 34117 USA
phone: 239-352-2234
web: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/rswns-springhill-suites-naples/
  Room amenities: Suites featuring a pantry area with a small refrigerator, sink, microwave and coffee maker. Separate areas for eating/working, relaxing and sleeping. Spacious studio style suites.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary on-site parking . Outdoor Pool. Bar-B-Q and/or picnic area Beauty shop, nearby (referral at front desk) Car Rental nearby: Enterprise, 1-239-455-1413 Vending machines
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $129 - $189 Contact the hotel directly.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 The Plantation Golf Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: Located in Crystal River, Florida amid the unspoiled splendor and beauty of Florida’s Nature Coast – Plantation Golf Resort & Spa is the perfect setting for a unique and relaxing Florida getaway that is unlike any other vacation you’ve had before. This first-class Crystal River, FL hotel accommodations truly embody the meaning of “Southern Hospitality”. At Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, they don’t use this term lightly because we insist on applying it as our absolute standard. When it comes down to it, the fact of the matter is our service, charm, and style are 100% pure southern in every sense. It’s no coincidence that year after year we consistently show up in Lodging Hospitality’s “Top 100 Performing Hotels”. At the tranquil setting along Central Florida’s Nature Coast, we invite you to escape your typical routine and make yourself at home here at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, surrounded by 232 acres of picturesque countryside with rolling greens, well-manicured lawns, and grand live oaks, palms, and pines. Upon arriving at the Plantation manor, kick back in any one of our 202 warmly-appointed resort accommodations or suites.
  Contact info: 9301 W Fort Island TRL
Crystal River, FL 34429 USA
phone: 352-795-4211
web: http://www.plantationoncrystalriver.com
  Room amenities: Complimentary Coffee & Coffee Maker Iron/Ironing Board Hair Dryer Data Ports Full Cable TV with Premium Channels and In-House Pay Per View Movies & Games Individual Climate Control Air Conditioning Down Comforters High Speed Wireless is Available for a Nominal Fee
  Facility amenities: Bar/lounge Restaurant(s) in hotel Parking (free) Business center Banquet facilities Multiple conference/meeting rooms Safe-deposit box - front desk 24-hour front desk Elevator/lift Swimming pool - outdoor Number of floors: 2 Year Built 1962 Room service (limited hours) Internet access in public areas - complimentary Internet access - wireless Breakfast available (surcharge) full Wireless (high-speed) Internet access - complimentary Number of restaurants 4 Golf course on site Tennis on site
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Call the hotel Call the hotel directly for availability and pricing. Mention that you are part of the World Events/Road Scholar group.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
5 PM in Naples Hotel Breakfast Area. You will be staying at SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott that night.
  End of Program:
After lunch (approx 11:30-12:30), then free shuttle to Ft. Myers airport. You will be staying at The Plantation Golf Resort the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. As you will be kayaking, snorkeling and taking part in other physical nature-based activities you will be required to sign the requisite waivers.
  Parking availability:
Free for automobiles. RVs and cars with trailers should call provider for special arrangements.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Naples FL
  Nearest highway: I-75
  Nearest airport:  Ft Myers, FL (airport code RSW)
  From End of Program
  Location:  Crystal River,FL
  Nearest city or town:  Homosassa and Brooksville
  Nearest highway: I-75
  Nearest airport:  Tampa International Airport
Travel Details
 

Ft Myers

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Provider - World Events LLC
phone: 800-971-3884
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

FREE
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

3 hours 

 

Distance:

 

200 miles

   

A one time complimentary shuttle service is provided on the last day of the program from Crystal River to Ft Myers Airport (RSW) for flights departing after 3 PM only. This shuttle then continues on to Naples.

 

Ft Myers, Florida

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Provider - World Events LLC
phone: 800-971-3884
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

FREE
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

35 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

25 miles

   

A one time complimentary shuttle service is provided on the first day of the program from Ft Myers Airport (RSW) for flights arriving before 2 PM only.

 
Driving Directions
  If you are traveling from Fort Lauderdale I-595 West out of the airport to I-75 North. Follow I-75 to the first Naples exit, (#101) Collier Blvd. Turn right on collier Blvd., go two blocks and turn right on City Gate Dr., right again on White Lake Blvd., the hotel is just ahead on the left.
  If you are traveling from Fort Myers - RSW Hotel direction: 32 miles S Exit Airport to I-75 South. Follow I-75 to Exit 101/Collier Blvd. Left on Collier Blvd. Go two blocks past the interstate and turn right on City Gate Dr., turn right again on White Lake Blvd, the hotel is just ahead on the left.
  If you are traveling from Naples - APF Left out of airport on North Rd., right on Airport Road, left on Davis Blvd., left on Collier Blvd., right on City Gate Dr., right again on White Lake Blvd., the hotel is just ahead on the left.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and Orientation
(Sunday, March 16)
   
 Afternoon: 5 PM Orientation and Hospitality
 Dinner: 6 PM Dinner at local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Manatee Park /CREW Watershed Hike
(Monday, March 17)
   
 Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 AM in Hotel
 Morning: Visit to Manatee Park for a guided habitat tour and a presentation " All about the Manatee " at the amphitheater.
 Lunch: Approx 12 PM Picnic Style Lunch at the Park
 Afternoon: Short hike at CREW Watershed. Learn how the water cycle works and how important the watershed is to the future quality and quantity of our water supply. Discover what happens "behind the scenes" as rainwater seeps into the aquifer, an underground rock formation which acts as a "sponge" to purify and store water. Explore the fascinating CREW watershed firsthand at the trail system.
 Dinner: 6 PM at local restaurant
 Evening: Free Time
   
Accommodations: SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Dolphin Watching Estero Bay
(Tuesday, March 18)
   
 Breakfast: 7-8 AM in Hotel
 Morning: Dolphin watch in Estero Bay. Cruise out with a Marine Biologist in pursuit of dolphins and manatee, and other wildlife. This cruise is the best to see the most wildlife! Learn about our diverse ecosystem and some of our local sealife, such as sea urchins, sea horses, conchs, brittle stars and more.
 Lunch: Approx 12 PM Picnic Style Lunch
 Afternoon: Guide Tour at The Rookery Bay Learning Center. The Environmental Learning Center is a 16,500 square-foot facility with four research laboratories, classrooms and 140-seat auditorium, and a two-story visitor center. The visitor center offers a variety of hands-on experiences, including a 2,300-gallon aquarium and interactive exhibits addressing research and stewardship efforts ongoing within the Reserve.
 Dinner: 6 PM at local restaurant
 Evening: Free Time
   
Accommodations: SpringHill Suites Naples by Marriott
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Naples Hotel Check Out/ Mote Research Center/Transit to Crystal River.
(Wednesday, March 19)
   
 Breakfast: 6:30 - 7AM in Hotel
 Morning: Visit to Mote Marine Mammal Center. At Mote, you can explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory. See sharks, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life.
 Lunch: Approx 12 PM Picnic Style Lunch in Aquarium grounds
 Afternoon: Continue North to Crystal River.
 Dinner: 6 PM Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: FREE TIME or possible Speaker from Gulf Archaeological Research Institute at hotel.
   
Accommodations: The Plantation Golf Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Kayaking the Chazzowitzka River
(Thursday, March 20)
   
 Breakfast: 7-8 AM in Hotel
 Morning: Kayaking the Chazzowitzka River looking for manatees and learning about the area habitat. Also good birding opportunities.
 Lunch: Approx 12 PM Picnic Style Lunch
 Afternoon: Update on the whooping crane migration project at Chazzowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
 Dinner: 6 PM at local restaurant
 Evening: Free Time
   
Accommodations: The Plantation Golf Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Manatee Swim /Snorkel at Crystal River NWR and field trip to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
(Friday, March 21)
   
 Breakfast: A light breakfast will be available on board the boat as it makes its way out to manatee swim area.
 Morning: 5:30 AM : Assemble at Hotel lobby for short drive to Manatee Swim Snorkel operation. Snorkel equipment plus FULL wetsuits are provided. 2 or 3 sites will be selected for the best possible opportunities to interact with the manatees in the water. Crystal River and Homosassa have a year round population of Florida Manatees. Swimming around Kings Bay and Three Sisters Springs. Crystal River and Homosassa Springs are known as the homes of the largest herds of wintering Manatees that enjoy the protection of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
 Lunch: 11:30 AM approx Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Opportunity to see many of Florida's native wildlife on field trip to the Homosassa Springs State Park and Wildlife Center. Includes opportunity to see manatee feeding plus views of Florida panthers and black bears in a natural habitat setting. For bird lovers here is a chance to see and photograph many different Florida species including roseate spoonbills, flamingos,wood storks etc in natural surroundings. Trip led by a certified Florida Master Naturalist.
 Dinner: 6:30 PM Farewell Dinner at local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: The Plantation Golf Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: End of Program and return to Ft Myers Airport.
(Saturday, March 22)
   
 Breakfast: 7:30 - 8 AM Full Hot and Cold Breakfast served at a local restuarant.
 Morning: For people returning to Ft Myers/Naples we travel the scenic route with a short hike at the lunch stop.
 Lunch: Approx 11:30-12:30 Picnic style lunch stop at Lettuce Lake Park. Includes a short hike along elevated boardwalk through cypress swamp and hardwood forest plus view from 3 story high watch tower overlooking the Hillsboro River and Lettuce Lake. Approx 1 mile
 Afternoon: Continue on to Ft Myers Airport for those participants fllying out after 3 PM or for those flying out the following day. Continue on to Naples if necessary.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Homosassa St Martins Aquatic Buffer Preserve
An optional 2.5 mile hike is offered for the afternoon of Day 6 For additional information, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Dolphins Whales and Manatees of Florida


Author: John Reynolds and Randall Wells


Description: A guide to sharing the world of marine mammals by 2 renowned researchers in this field.



National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida


Author: Peter Alden, Rick Cech and Gil Nelson


Description: Excellent overview of Floridian natural history



Florida Wildlife Viewing Guide


Author: Susan Cerulean and Ann Morrow


Description: Guide to National, State, Municipal and Private Parks. Details what to see, where located and how to get there.



Scuba Diving and Snorkeling for Dummies


Author: John Newman


Description: Good basic instruction for novice snorkelers.





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