Where is the Best Place in the World to Swim with Manatee? Florida’s Nature Coast

If you are reading this article before How To Swim with Manatee, I recommend to first read that one, and then come back for the conclusion.

swim with manatee

Once we learned how to play nice with the Manatee it was time for our swim. And the anticipation was killing us.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - our boat

A Real Life Swim With Manatee 

No matter how much you read about these elusive animals, or watch videos on You Tube, and even get glimpses of them in aquariums, nothing – and I mean nothing – can prepare you for your first encounter.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - first encounter with a manatee

An important difference, and more of an unspoken secret, that our tour with Snorkel with Manatee company had in comparison to all the other Crystal River snorkel tours was that we got to swim with Manatee in Homosassa Springs.

For some reason Crystal River Florida is the main draw for manatee when Homosassa Springs Florida, which is 74 degrees year round (same as Crystal River), has the same perfect conditions and has the same amount of manatee coming here year after year.

When I first signed up for the tour I honestly didn’t have any idea of the difference. But it is huge. Crystal River has hundreds of people swimming with Manatee every day. Which doesn’t make it very appealing to me at all. When we prepared to get on our boat we were told that we are going to Homosassa Springs, not Crystal River. I became extremely worried since I haven’t read anywhere about this area as a good place to swim with them.

That’s when we learned the hidden truth. Other than our company no other company comes out here. Which made the swimming area ours and ours alone. What an incredible surprise!

crystal river snorkel tour manatee swim

Our captain and guide was so much fun. She not only is this her career, but she is absolutely in love with Manatee and every time she has a day off she is swimming with them. Her love affair started when she was seven years old and is now sharing the love with us. And that made the swim that much easier to adjust to.

swim with manatee crystal river

Because trust me, your first time face-to-face with this animal can make your heart stop. Not in a bad way.  Since we had absolutely no reference points for how to really act, it can definitely frighten you with its mass and unexpected curiosity, completely throwing you off guard.

My oldest son, I’m convinced, has found his calling. After his initial meet and greet with the baby manatee (we saw a mama and baby while touring) they became instant best friends.

swim with manatee - kid and manatee best friends

Ralph, as he called his new found buddy, and my son bonded and literally played together in the water for over one hour.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - swimming underwater with manatee

To us the greatest revelation was how friendly and sociable these creatures were.  Ralph didn’t want to leave my son’s side at all. Even after my boy had to get back in the boat for our return, Ralph clung onto our rope from the anchor until we roared up the engine and waved our good byes.

Saying good bye is always hard. My sons to this day talk about Ralph and how they will return. My baby went into the water, but was a bit eclipsed by the size and preferred to watch and wave from the boat.

On the ride back we had hot coco as we reminisced about our incredible adventure.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - hot coco

And you always know its a good day when the baby falls asleep.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - sleepy head

Video Fun

Swimming with Manatee is something that I recommend for every family to do with kids. Watching your children learn, fall in love and understand the Manatee brings you that much closer to them helping them save this animal which is extremely endangered.

This was without a doubt one of the greatest highlights not only of our trip, but of our year!


About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

7 Responses to Where is the Best Place in the World to Swim with Manatee? Florida’s Nature Coast

  1. Frank says:

    I never know they were so sociable either! Looks like a fun time!
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Looking back at 2013…and forward to 2014My Profile

  2. I was anxious to see how it went after reading your previous post. I am so glad you enjoyed your experience. They seem so lovable! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Laura @Travelocafe says:

    WOW! Great video! I hope you continue making more videos.

  4. Swimming with manatee’s looks like a lot of fun! Lucky boys you have.
    Nancy D. Brown recently posted..Best Dude Ranches for KidsMy Profile

  5. I DID THIS in 2011! But we rented our own little boat at a dive shop and picked our spot, away from crowds as well:


    So surreal isn’t it!?

    – Maria Alexandra

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