Do you want to swim with manatees during your stay in Florida?
Have you ever gotten up close and personal with a manatee? Well here is your chance! I have lived in Sarasota, FL for many years now and have always been telling people about the gentle, sea cows, but have never had the opportunity to go and swim with them.
We recently took the short drive up to Crystal River, FL and rented our own pontoon boat to go and explore the warm springs where the manatees had their own sanctuaries. It is about a 2.5 hr drive North up 75 for the trip, but is soooo worth it! Make sure to get your snorkel gear, wear a wetsuit and get your underwater camera! The springs are a little chilly for us humans, but they are the perfect temperature for the manatees while the gulf is heating up with the spring temperatures. The best time to view the manatees is in the winter months from November to March. There are many different tour options, or you can be your own tour guide and take out kayaks or pontoon boats. But heed the speed advisories, these gentle manatees are always around and motor blade marks are evident on many of the creatures, so always be careful to boat slowly and cautiously in these waters as well as any of the close to shore waters where the signage and inlets advise to do so.
The Florida Game and Wildlife Commission has set designated spots where no humans can enter, but can only observe these docile creatures in their natural habitat. In these sanctuaries, you will see so many manatees just floating, bobbing up and down and gently rolling about each other. The manatees are resting most of the time in the sanctuaries, but then there are many others which are outside and swimming about all through the river and its small canals. You will see large mama manatees swimming with their smaller babies right behind them, it’s truly an beautiful sight.
While snorkeling around these sanctuaries and through the river, manatees come right up beside you, brush past and keep swimming on like you are not even there! The law says you cannot touch them and you are not to be bothering them in their habitat, but you can get right up close to them and they’re not afraid of coming to visit! The animals are quite large though and at some points, the water was murky and you couldn’t see them coming, so don’t be surprised if they sneak right up beside you or underneath you….it’s just their space and you are in it!
You will also see an abundance of other fish and wildlife during your excursion. We saw sheepshead, snook, and many more tropically colored fish. There are also beautiful egrets, blue herons and other birds sailing through the air above.
Make sure to put this adventure on your list of things to do while visiting Florida, It is an activity that you will never forget and you will be talking about for a long time! These beautiful, graceful, yet at the same time cute and clumsy animals are a truly magical experience and will truly make you feel like one with nature.
Need directions and more information on visiting the manatees? Come speak with the local, knowledgeable staff at the front desk at Tropical Beach Resorts. We are happy to look up information, print out maps and any other helpful tidbits that will aid in your enjoyment of your precious vacation time.
Tropical Beach Resorts
6717 Sarasea Circle
Siesta Key, Fl 34242
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