Florida’s Nature Coast Is The Best Places To Swim With Manatees

Swimming with manatees on Florida Nature Coast is one of the best things to do, a unique experience everyone should do at least one time in their life. One of the biggest draws is you can bring your kids with you, making a whole family experience. There are many places to do it, but for swimming with manatees, one of my favorites is the Florida Nature Coast, and in this post, I’ll let you know why.

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

swim with manatee in crystal river

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

Florida Nature Coast Manatee Tours 

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

first encounter with a manatee with nature coast manatee tours

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 manatees in Homosassa Springs.

For some reason, Crystal River Florida is the main draw for manatees while Homosassa Springs Florida, which is 74 degrees year round (same as Crystal River), has the same perfect conditions and has the same amount of manatees 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!

kid having fun at nature coast manatee tour

My experience

Our captain and guide were so much fun. Not only is this her career, but she is absolutely in love with manatees, 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 her love with us. And that made the swim that much easier to adjust to.

show me a 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 newfound buddy, and my son bonded and literally played together in the water for over one hour.

swimming underwater with manatee at nature coast manatee tours

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 goodbyes.

Saying goodbye 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 cocoa as we reminisced about our incredible adventure.

hot coco after swiming with manatees at nature coast manatee tour

And you always know it’s a good day when the baby falls asleep.

Manatee Snorkeling, Crystal River, Florida - sleepy head

Video Fun

Swimming with manatees 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!

Swim with Manatee Tour Review in Crystal River Florida


Last Updated on June 7, 2023

7 thoughts on “Florida’s Nature Coast Is The Best Places To Swim With Manatees

  1. 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.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, I just started doing videos and not feeling very confident about it.

  2. 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

    1. How fun!!!!!

      I didn’t want to rent a boat because looking after the kids is a task in itself 🙂

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