One of the best places to observe manatees is around the King’s Spring (Tarpon Hole). This is a very powerful, subaquatic spring which can be accessed from the sea.

King’s Bay

In the 240 ha large King’s Bay there are some 50-70 large springs which all together form the second most powerful group of springs in Florida after Wakulla Spring.

These springs all together form a fairly large river – Crystal River which is only some 12 km long. There is almost no fall in the river – at its mouth Crystal River is… 0 meters above sea level. Thus the seawater can reach up to the mouth of the river in the King’s Bay – the water here is brackish – slightly salty.

Description of King’s Spring

One of the two 1st magnitude springs here is King’s Spring or Tarpon Hole (the other one is the less powerful Hunter Spring). This spring emanates from the bottom of King’s Bay and has formed some 140 – 170 m large and 6 m deep, conical depression. Earlier it was reported that the depression was up to 20 m deep. Water comes from an area in the limestone rock with multiple openings and fractures – these might be consequences of a fairly recent collapse of spring cave.

King's Spring from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image
King’s Spring from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image. Manatees are well visible in the other spring below King’s Spring. / Dolovis, / BY 2.0

In calm weather, there is well visible the boil of water above the spring.

Water from this spring is very clean and the area around the spring has an abundance of life – fishes and manatees.

The spring is a very popular dive site and can get very crowded. Near the spring vent has been installed a brass sculpture of manatee.


Springs maintain a constant temperature of water in King’s Bay – 22 °C. During the winter the water temperature in the sea can be somewhat lower and sea animals come then in the warmer waters of King’s Bay.

Group of manatees not too far from King's Spring
Group of manatees not too far from King’s Spring. / Dolovis, / BY 2.0

More than 400 manatees happen to live in the waters around Tarpon Hole – an unforgettable sight! This is the only place in Florida where people are allowed to interact with manatees, e.g. to swim with them. During the winter the access is limited in order not to disturb manatees but during the summer numerous divers are coming here in hope to meet some manatee and dive together with these calm animals.


  1. King’s (or Tarpon or Tarpon Hole) Spring. Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs. Last accessed on 3rd May 2019.
  2. King’s Bay/Crystal River Springs Resoration Plan, prepared by The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, February 2016. Last accessed on 4th May 2019.
Tarpon Hole (King’s Spring) on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 28.8819 N 82.5949 W
Categories: Springs, Subaquatic springs
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: 2.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? North America, United States, Florida, Citrus County, Crystal River city, in the King’s Bay, below the water south from Banana Island
Type: artesian springs
Average discharge: 1,213 l/s

Video of manatees at Tarpon Hole

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, December 2013

Landmarks of Florida

Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World Resort / Benjamin Esham, / CC BY-SA 3.0 US

Florida is the tropical paradise of mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from forgotten, swampy badland into densely populated and rich land. Highlights of Florida include the architecture of the late 19th and 20th century as well as its giant springs and caves.


Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level
Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level / / CC BY-SA 2.0

This category includes natural sites where water, other liquids and/or gases reach the surface of the Earth, including locations below the water.

Powerful natural freshwater springs belong to the most fascinating monuments of nature. Even more exciting is the diversity of unusual springs – mineral springs, hot springs, submarine springs as well as the unusual black smokers. Especially beautiful are such natural rarities as travertine, silica or salt terraces created by warm and hot springs and, especially, geysers.

Recommended books

Florida’s Waters (Florida’s Natural Ecosystems and Native Species)

Taken from the earlier book Priceless Florida (and modified for a stand-alone book), this volume discusses the fresh- and saltwater systems of Florida, including lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; springs; aquatic caves; estuarine waters and seafloors; submarine meadows, sponge, rock, and reef communities; and the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean. Introduces readers to the trees and plants, insects, mammals, reptiles, and other species that live in Florida’s unique water ecosystems, including chicken turtle, barking treefrogs, osprey, herons, bass, crayfish, conchs, cordgrass, and railroad vine.

FLORIDA SPRINGS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Your Guide to the Best of Florida’s Springs, Parks and Recreations

The author started gathering information for this unique guidebook of Florida Springs over 40 years ago. In 1973 Robert F. Burgess began diving and photographing the underwater caves associated with Florida’s labyrinthine freshwater springs long before scuba divers had such things as depth gauges, personal flotation devices, or cave diver training programs. He attributes his survival in what has been called “the world’s most dangerous sport” to the fact that he always stayed within sight of the way out of these underwater sites.

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