Florida, the Sunshine State is full of wonders. You not only get to experience the warm weather throughout the year pristine beaches, and the scenic beauty of nature, but you also get a dose of adventure when in Florida. If you are a nature lover and wish to do something fun in the lap of nature, then kayaking with manatees in Florida is the best option for you to go for.
You can also plan for a swim with manatees in Florida’s clear water. A one-time kayak with manatees in Florida or snorkeling to spot tropical fishes will make you fall in love with nature again. These friendly creatures of the waters, popularly known as sea cows, are awesome companions to hang out with on a lazy day to cheer your mood up. And the best way to get a close-up look at these large, marine animals is to ride on a kayak.
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So, if you’re curious to know where you can have a unique experience of kayaking with manatees on the clear water beaches of Florida, then we are to sort you out. In winter you can also check out some warm beaches of Florida.
Our curated list of kayaks with manatees in Florida will help you to plan your next trip. So, let’s hop on and find out where to kayak with manatees in Florida.
12 Best Places to Kayak with Manatees in Florida
Manatees are totally harmless and very friendly creatures just like dolphins. So watching them or catching a glimpse of them while you kayak on the crystal waters of Florida is definitely a memorable experience. The ideal time to kayak with manatees in Florida is from November to March.
Although these slow-moving creatures will never disturb your viewing experience, you should also follow certain rules while you kayak with manatees in Florida.
- Touching them or going too close to them is never recommended.
- Never throw food or any other stuff at the manatees.
- Since you are a guest in their natural habitat, be sure to be nice and gentle with them.
1. Silver Springs
There is nothing better than kayaking with manatees in freshwater Florida springs. One of the best springs in Florida, Silver spring’s crystal clear water allows you to have a perfect picture of the underworld.
Manatees are easy to spot in Silver Springs while you are riding a kayak. Keep your ears open as they make a particular sound when they breathe. Also, if you can get hold of a kayak with a glass bottom your experience will be enhanced even more.
- The colder months from November to February make the best time to visit Silver Springs.
- Pets are only allowed in the designated campgrounds or hiking areas.
- Glass bottom boat tours are $12 for adults.
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2. Weeki Wachee Springs
Welcome to another freshwater spring in Florida to have a unique experience of kayaking with manatees in Florida. The best thing about Weeki Wachee Springs is the beautiful spring that has the clearest water of all. It fills up the river water every 60 minutes. Due to the crystal-clear water, all aqua animals are super visible.
Manatees are very frequently spotted here, so keep yourself alert to have a beautiful moment with this creature. Mermaid shows are extremely popular at Weeki Wachee Springs and they are one of the best tourist attractions. Besides gettings views of the spectacular manatees, the natural beauty of Weeki Wachee is also unparallel.
The waters are lovely for canoeing with manatees in Florida. As the temperature is ideal for the manatees, they are safe habitats of this springs state park.
- Being one of the top tourist attractions places, Weeki Wachee receives heavy footfall. So, get your reservations as early as possible.
- The park has a zero-tolerance policy toward misbehavior against manatees. So, be very careful and respectful.
- You can get your own kayak and the fee is $6 to launch.
- Renting a kayak will cost you around $22.
- Safety is given top priority here so in your kayak, you get all your safety equipment handy.
- Disposable containers and alcohol are banned here.
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3. Blue Springs
Blue Springs is another popular home for manatees. If you want to kayak with manatees in Orlando, then head on to Blue Springs as it is just a few miles away from downtown Orlando. Viewing wildlife in Blue Springs is a different experience altogether.
During winter, you will be able to find the largest gathering of manatees here. An interesting fact about Blue Springs is that you can watch manatees from the boardwalk itself. This ⅓-mile stretch is a great way to see those fat animals in their own space. Along St. James River, Blue Springs is a perfect spot for you to kayak with the manatees in Flordia.
- Single kayaks, tandem kayaks, and paddle boats are available at $70.
- If you want to get a boat tour at St. John Rivers then make sure to visit between 10 a.m to 1 p.m.
- People also indulge in hiking on the Pine Island Trail which is 3.6 miles long.
- From mid-November to March all water activities like snorkeling, and swimming, are closed for the safety of the manatees.
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4. Crystal River
Crystal River is undoubtedly one of the best places to kayak with manatees in Florida. Since Crystal River prides itself on having the highest number of manatees, making a visit here is a must.
Surrounded by stunning natural beauty and freshwaters, your day out with the manatees would be super amazing at the Crystal River. The blue waters with the perfect temperature of 70 degrees is an ideal home for the sea cows. So, if you want to have close views of these marine creatures, definitely kayak with manatees in Crystal River.
Also, there are designers and safe places for the manatees that keep them more secure. There is also a boardwalk available to see the manatees.
- Crystal River is more popular as it permits people to swim with the manatees here. So, make sure to carry your swimwear while you enjoy a relaxing ride on your kayak.
- Almost 800 manatees flock during winter in Crystal River, so plan your weekend gateway accordingly to not miss a chance to see them.
- You can get your kayak or rental options are also available.
- Go for a guided manatee tour to experience the best time with the sea animals.
- Head on to Fort Island Gulf Beach for a relaxing time at the beach and enjoy the gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico.
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5. Homosassa Springs
Homosassa Springs is another beautiful destination if you want to kayak with manatees in Florida. Located south of Crystal River, Homosassa Springs is popular for its manatee viewing experience. As the water remains at the temperature of 72 degrees throughout the year, it makes for a great place for the manatees.
Homosassa Springs is also home to other wildlife animals like fish, turtles, and birds. Surprisingly, both freshwater and saltwater fish can be found here. There are kayaking tours available that allow you to get close views of the manatees. For a calming experience of kayaking with manatees in Florida, Homosassa Springs must be on your wishlist.
- Guided kayak tours are available at $49.50 per person with amenities like a life vest, whistle, etc.
- Head over to Monkey Island to have an external view of this private place.
- Rent kayaks for two hours at $20 and four hours at $30.
- Tandem kayak rentals are available at $35 for two hours and $45 for four hours.
6. Lovers Key – Fort Myers
If you are looking for a romantic, quiet getaway with your partner in Florida, then kayak with manatees at Lovers Key Fort Myers Beach. Manatees are spotted here in their best versions and you are guaranteed to have some exclusive time with these sea giants.
Just as you idly sit with your partner on your kayak, manatees will swim alongside you. Also, the place is very quiet and calm and hence you have golden opportunities to hear the manatees. Lovers Key Fort Myers Beach is a perfect destination for nature lovers too as it has an abundance of nature, and other amazing marine animals like dolphins, birds, and many more.
The guided tours take you to the right places where you can spot the manatees in their flocks.
- Lovers Key Fort Myers Beach offers different types of tours like Full moon tours, Sunset tours, Mound key tours, and Estuary tours. Choose one according to your convenience.
- You can enjoy a nature walk after your water and have fun on the trails.
- Bring some food and have a picnic day with your family as this place offers various picnic areas and two playgrounds.
- Due to its picturesque beauty, many wedding takes place.
7. Seven Sisters Spring
Looking for a family-friendly and budget-friendly kayaking with manatees in Florida? Then, consider visiting Seven Sisters Springs. The place is famous for having spectacular views of the underworld and it is also a favorite spot of the manatees during winter.
It is only a few minutes away from Chassahowitzka River Campground. Interestingly, Seven Sisters Spring is a shallow spring and has many tunnels which are the favorite of the swimmers and snorkelers. So, you can not just indulge in kayaking with the humble manatees here, you can let yourself enjoy a few water activities like these.
The clear waters of the spring allow you stunning views of the manatees and if you’re lucky you might spot some alligators and snakes also.
- Kayak, canoe, and boats all are available to rent.
- Launch a boat from the Chassahowitzka River Campground to reach the fastest and easiest to Seven Sisters Spring.
- This spring can only be accessed via boats.
8. Tarpon Springs
Located on beautiful Central Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tarpon Springs is another noteworthy place if you wish to fulfill your dream of kayaking with manatees in Florida. Also, this spot is great for people who have time constraints. If you are in Tampa and want to experience something different, then take out 45 minutes, head to Tarpon Springs, and spend a lazy afternoon with the manatees.
Tarpon Springs has clear kayak tour that give you the best view of the manatees. However, Tarpon Springs has gained even more popularity because of its rich historic significance. So paddling through Tarpon Springs gives you a view of the beautiful neighborhood.
Opt for local guided tours as they are well aware of the hotspots of the manatees. Also, it is important to keep a safe distance from the manatees and not to disturb them, as they are not well-protected in Tarpor Springs.
- Tarpon Springs has tons of art galleries, shops, and a performing center. So, after you spend a day kayaking with manatees, make sure to visit these popular places.
- Spring Bayou area is the best spot to see manatees at Tarpon Springs.
- Tarpon Springs Aquarium is a great family place to hang out.
9. Manatee Park in Fort Myers
If you are around Florida from December to March, make a stop at Manatee Park in Fort Myers to enjoy kayaking with manatees. This park keeps these harmless animals protected and the best part is that they roam around freely in nature. Manatee Park is a refuge warm water park that gives the perfect atmosphere for the manatees.
Orange River and lagoons surrounding Manatee Park are some of the excellent spots to get views of the manatees. Located in Lee County, Manatee park maintains the right temperature for these herbivorous animals via the warm water flow of Light Poer Station and Florida Power. Rent a kayak or a canoe or you can even bring your own to have a fun day visiting the manatees.
- The water is not extremely clear, so keep your eyes on alert all the time.
- After kayaking with manatees, visit the nature trail and butterfly garden.
- This park does not allow pets.
- The park opens at 7 a.m till sundown.
- There is no entry fee for the park. Only parking has a nominal fee.
10. Manatee Springs State Park
Come to Manatee Springs State Park to experience first-magnitude springs in Florida. If you want to spend a day in the lap of nature then visit Manatee Springs State Park, situated in Chiefland. The long boardwalk and the canopy of the cypress forest make it a superb place to visit.
During colder months, manatees can be spotted frequently whether you are kayaking on canoeing. January and February in Florida make for the ideal months if you want a closer look at the manatees. Apart from kayaking, you can indulge in other water activities like boating, scuba diving, and fishing. The park also provides a place for camping.
The 8.5-mile nature trails are great for hiking or bicycling. So, if you are headed to Manatee Springs State Park, you will be flooded with interesting options.
- The park opens at 8 a.m and remains open till sunset.
- The boardwalk is 800 feet long which provides a clear view of the manatees.
- You will find the kayak launch area at the northwest corner.
- Kayaks for rentals are also available.
- Dogs are permitted here but must keep on a 6-foot leash.
- You can rent pavilions at the picnic areas for $35.
11. Ichetucknee Spring
If you are in the mood to experience a laidback, relaxing vibe yet have some fun with the sea cows or the manatees, Ichetucknee Spring is your dream destination. The pristine, blue waters offer one of the best kayaking expenses with manatees in Florida.
Ichetuckenne is popular among tourists for offering warm water tubing. However, during cooler months the clear water gives spectacular views of the manatees through kayaks. The Ichetucknee River which is 6 miles long is created by the eight clear springs which is another beautiful sight to catch.
There are wild animals to welcome at this park such as wild turkey, wood duck, softshell turtle, otter, and many more. Go for a short hike on the nature trails to soak in the beauty of nature.
- This is a great place for beginners as the river is quite slow and steady.
- You can rent a kayak or even bring your own.
- You can bring your dogs to the park. But you can’t take to them to the river or the nature trails.
- This is a kid-friendly park as it has playgrounds.
- You can access paddling from the south or north end.
- At the south entrance, all rental options are available.
Now that you have your top places to kayak with manatees in Florida ready, what are you waiting for? Hop on a kayak and spend some valuable time with these gentle creatures of the sea.
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FAQ – Kayaking with Manatees in Florida
1. When can you kayak with manatees in Florida?
Ans– November to March are the best months to kayak with manatees in Florida. Some parks also offer swimming facilities with manatees during these months.
2. Is it safe to kayak with manatees?
Ans– Yes, it is completely safe to kayak with manatees. They are harmless, herbivorous sea cows who never attack. However, as tourists, you are responsible to preserve these once engendered species. So, always maintain a safe distance from them and let them be in their natural habitat.
3. Can a manatee flip your kayak?
Ans– Manatees are large marine animals and have powerful tails. So, if you get too close to the animal with your kayak and touch them accidentally, there are high chances that they will flip your kayak to protect themselves.