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Two hours west of Orlando and located just an hour north of Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater, some of the best opportunities to see manatees all year long are on Weeki Wachee Springs! Home to the world-famous Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids, Get Up and Go Kayaking offers guided eco-tours in 100% clear kayaks on the Weeki Wachee River. This once-in-a-lifetime experience, led by one of our Guardian Guides certified through the Save the Manatees Club manatee stewardship program, will immerse you in everything manatee! We provide a world-class manatee educational experience while following scientifically-informed guidelines supporting conservation and good stewardship. So if you love everything about Florida’s beloved sea cow, read on to help you plan the best time for your trip! 

The manatees that call the Weeki Wachee home are wild and whether or not we encounter manatees on tour will depend on the weather, tides, time of day, number of people on the water, and seasons. As one of our guide’s, Hannah likes to say “it’s always a hope, never a promise”. While we cannot guarantee that you will see a manatee on your tour, we do see manatees every day on the river and our guides do their best to take you through areas we are most likely to see them. 

Knowing a little about manatees and planning can help you check “seeing a manatee in the wild” off your bucket list! Read on to get the most out of your visit to Weeki Wachee!

Manatee Season November 15th – March 31st

  •  As the temperature drops, manatees are on the move! “Manatee Season” is a designated period in Florida from November 15th-March 31st that represents the time during which manatees migrate or go to their winter warm water habitat across the state.
  •  Manatees cannot survive in water temperatures below 68 degrees for long periods. When temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean cool, manatees move to springs like the Weeki Wachee River because they remain at 72 degrees. 
  • The time manatees spend in their warm water home is crucial to their survival as manatees use this time to rest and recharge.
  • Early mornings on the coldest days of the year are sure to provide you with the best chance to see the MOST manatees and a wildlife experience you will not forget! 
  • Many other animals, including various species of fish, turtles, birds, and dolphins, use the river’s warm waters as a refuge on our coldest mornings!
  • Bonus! Bald Eagle nesting season coincides with manatee season, and we paddle by an active nest so you can get to know our eagles too!

Manatee Summer Viewing April 1st– November 14th

a group of people rowing a boat in the water

  • Don’t worry if you are planning a Weeki Wachee trip from April 1st- November 14th (non-official manatee season); we have a population of resident manatees that call the river and surrounding waterways home all year long! 
  • April through early July, spring and the long days of summer are here! The temperature is heating up, and so is love on the river- manatees can be found engaged in courtship. 
  • Manatees are very active on the river during the summer, and we see glimpses of them as they move quickly up and down the river in small groups. 
  • Many manatee mothers and calves frequent the quiet calm waters of the estuary or the area where the Weeki Wachee river meets the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • The river can be a popular place for people to recreate and stay cool during the summer months, but the more people on the water, the less likely we are to encounter wildlife that can be shy and elusive. Therefore, early risers will delight in an 8 am tour when manatees, dolphins, otters, raccoons, deer, and even the occasional alligator take advantage of the quiet mornings. 

We welcome questions and are happy to share current conditions and information about manatee behavior so that you can make informed choices. Ecosystems are dynamic, and change is the only constant, but we will do our best to be transparent regarding what you can expect at any given time. We encourage guests to explore our Instagram for our most recent tour videos of our guests’ experiences with Florida’s flora and fauna. No matter the time of year a Get Up and Go Kayaking clear kayak tour to learn about manatees will engage all ages and create beautiful memories on the Weeki Wachee River. 

a group of people swimming in a body of water