Manatees in Florida
If you love Florida’s flora — colorful hibiscus and swaying palms, anyone? You’ll love our fauna. You may be familiar with our variety of snakes and alligators, but did you know we also have magnificent land animals such as panthers, black bears, deer, and bobcats? And in our waters, we have the marvelous manatees — our state’s marine mammal. These enormous, gentle “sea cows” are herbivorous (they seem to love lettuce!) and have no natural predators or enemies. Luckily, there are several places within driving distance from your luxury vacation villa where you and your family can experience them in person. Below are a few places you can visit, connect with nature and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Lee County Manatee Park, Fort Myers
This is probably the furthest drive from your vacation villa. It’s located across from Florida Power and Light and directly on the warm water (discharge) canal. The Lee County Manatee Park is a popular winter-time mecca where large groups of Florida manatees gather. Enjoy a picnic near the butterfly garden and check out several viewing areas. The entire family can also enjoy guided walks and nature programs.
Blue Spring State Park, Orange City
Blue Spring State Park is a great manatee viewing location where you don’t need a boat. During manatee season (November 15 through March 31), the spring run is closed but there are several overlooks and boardwalks to enjoy. Make it a relaxing day-long trip by bringing a picnic, swimwear and binoculars for spectacular bird-watching.
TECO Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach
Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is a designated manatee sanctuary where large numbers of manatees return each year to the warm waters around the local power station. There is an environmental education center as well as viewing platforms and tidal walkways located at this 50-acre facility.
Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville
The Haulover Canal connects Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River (sounds like a fun area of Universal Studios!), and features a manatee observation area. There are interpretive signs and viewing platforms located here. There are also lots of other family activities to enjoy.
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River
I’ve saved this magical place for last because I’ve experienced it first-hand. A few years ago, I had a friend who had everything from a boat to an underwater camera coupled with the knowledge of where and when to go to Crystal River and hang with the manatees. A hundred of them! I would need a few more paragraphs to tell you how wonderful this experience was. But you can go see for yourself! You can either take a kayak, boat or trolley tour to the springs. Stroll the 1/4 mile boardwalk with viewing platforms or the gently hike 1.5 miles of nature trails and immerse yourselves in mother nature. It’s a beautiful, serene place to spend the day with your family at any time of the year.
After long swims with the manatees, book and relax with Reunion Vacation Homes today!