Best Places in Florida to See Manatees
BEST PLACES IN FLORIDA TO VIEW MANATEES
Manatees are some of the most popular marine life in Florida and people travel from all over the world to see them in the wild. Here are some of the top places to see manatees in Florida!
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the east coast in an area known as the Space Coast. The Refuge was purchased by NASA as they turned the land into a National Wildlife Refuge, benefitting the population of manatees. You can drive to the Refuge where you’ll see many different kind of animals including gators, endangered birds, bobcats, dolphins, and so much more. You can also see manatees here year-round! Pro tip: there’s a manatee viewing deck on Haulover Canal that is a great spot for getting a glimpse of the manatee. If you don’t see any here, head over to Bairs Cove Boat Ramp and look to see if there’s any hanging out in the cove. Manatees are more likely to be seen here in the summer months!
Tarpon Springs, FL is about 45 minutes from Tampa and is know for its sponge fishing! It is also home to many manatees during the colder Florida months. This is a hidden gem as there’s always so many manatees hanging around in this area during the winter months! On the weekends you can paddle with the manatees in a clear kayak during manatee season (November 15th – March 31st) with Get Up and Go Kayaking – Tarpon Springs.
Blue Spring is located in Orange City FL and is know to have multiple manatees in the springs during manatee season! You can view these from multiple boardwalks that are located in Blue Springs State Park. The colder temperatures the better to view the manatees at Blue Springs State Park! They even have a manatee webcam along with daily counts so you can have a good idea of how many manatee are hanging around Blue Springs before you go! Keep in mind you can only view the manatee from the boardwalk in the winter months as they close down the spring run. If you’re lucky you may see one out in the main river in the winter time but the waters are not as clear so it will be harder to spot them.
Homosassa Springs is widely known for its manatees and the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. You can visit the park daily from 9a.m. to 5p.m., and it is home to a number of different animals like manatees, alligators, bears, birds, and the oldest hippopotamus in captivity! We recommend visiting Homosassa in the winter months to see manatees as they use this area as a refuge from the colder ocean temperatures.
Crystal River is the #1 place to see manatees in Florida! It is known for its many natural springs. Three Sisters Springs, located in Crystal River, is one of Florida’s most popular springs and is known to have hundreds of manatees resting inside of it at one time! You can take a tour of the springs and surrounding locations in a 100% clear kayak with Get Up And Go Kayaking in Crystal River! The best time of year to see the manatees are in the winter time but there are many manatee that make Crystal River their home year round!
If you’re ready for an adventure to see manatees, Weeki Wachee is a great spot. There are manatees here year round as there’s an abundance of food for them in the Spring Hill area. However, the winter time is when you will see the majority of the manatees here as they love the warm spring waters in the winter time! You can also take a clear kayak tour here to get a chance at seeing the manatee directly under your kayak!
Round Island – Vero Beach
This is another hidden gem! Manatees love this area around Round Island as there’s an abundance of food and not much boat traffic. You can walk along the board walk here for a chance at seeing a manatee up close or you can take a guided clear kayak tour to get even closer! There are manatee here year round but typically there are more in the summer time!
The Chaz – Chassahowitzka River
This is one of the coolest places to see manatees in Florida. With the clear waters and diverse plant life and wildlife, there’s no shortage of unforgettable moments along The Chaz. Manatees enjoy the warmer waters that come from Seven Sisters Springs and into the Chassahowitzka River. During the winter months is when you’re likely to see more manatees in this amazing location.
The best way to experience a Florida manatee is via clear kayak! Don’t let the view from a normal kayak hinder what may be directly below you!
As always, we ask that you show the utmost respect to all manatees and follow the lead of our highly trained guides when experiencing a manatee.
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