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Swim With The Manatees In This Amazing Place In Florida

If you’re looking for a life-changing experience that’s close to home and doesn’t have a huge price tag, swimming with the manatees could be perfect for you. Sure, they’re kind of funny looking (no idea how early explorers confused them with mermaids), but if you get in the water with these gentle giants, they’re sure to win your heart.

Manatees have no natural predators and few inhibitions. They’re known to swim right up to visitors like happy puppies. That is, if you treat them with respect, give them space and stay as still as possible. Manatees flock to Crystal River and its springs seeking warmer waters in the winter. This is the only place in Florida where you can legally swim with the manatees, and the practice is strictly regulated for their protection. If you want to swim with these incredible creatures, the best time to do so is from November through about mid-March. (So, right now!) There are plenty of tour agencies and resorts in Crystal River that will help you handle everything you need for your dive.

Here are some photos and a video to give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to visit Crystal River:

If you don’t want to get in the water, that’s OK. There are plenty of boardwalks and other places where you can view manatees from a distance. You also don’t necessarily have to go to Crystal River in this case. Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Lee County Manatee Park in Fort Myers and the TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach are perfect places to see the manatees without ever going in the water. As always, call ahead when planning your trip to check for possible closures.

Have you ever tried swimming with the manatees in Crystal River? What’s your favorite place to see manatees in Florida? Please share your comments and photos with us below!

Victoria W
Victoria is a staff writer for OIYS.