I shared with you guys all about my super relaxing vacation at TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, FL. Two and a half days of indulgence and peace on the beautiful beaches of Florida, with some of the freshest seafood and gorgeous scenery. All to rest up for our next big adventure in Crystal River, FL – swimming with manatees!
First, I must say that swimming with manatees was never actually something I’d envisioned or thought to place on my bucket list, but now that I’ve done it, I must say it’s one of those things you’d want to place on yours!
We arrived at The Plantation on Crystal River resort on on day 3 of our #FLAdventure. It’s a very classic resort, giving a very southern and traditional vibe. The luxurious entryway with the Victorian stairway gave me a bit of a “Gone With The Wind” historic vibe; so coming from Atlanta, this place felt pretty familiar. I would later learn how this place is actually one of the go-to locations for visitors seeking some of the most unique underwater adventures, including scalloping, snorkeling and of course, swimming with manatees!
The next morning we were up bright and early for this adventure of a lifetime. I had no idea what to expect because, as I said, I’d never really thought about a manatee experience before this trip. We arrived at Plantation Adventure Center just a few feet from our hotel, checked in and began suiting up in our wet suits, which by the way, are designed to fit you snug as a bug and double as your flotation device in the water. We soon boarded our boat and met our captain Lance Herring, who would take us out in the lake to find some manatees to swim with.
This time of year, we learned, is not the best time to find manatees in the lake, so we were just hopeful to actually get to see some manatees. The best time of the year is November through January when there are more manatees in the lake because they migrate to the warm temperatures. This time of year, only resident manatees (10 or 20) vs hundreds in the winter. However, as we were on the boat, we were able to spot a few bubbles, where we stopped to meet our manatee friends. 🙂
Do’s and Don’t’s when Swimming with Manatees
DO enter the water slowly and carefully. Manatees will sense your presence from the moment you enter their space. Manatees have around 3,000-5,000 hairs on their bodies and are very sensitive.
When both entering the water and swimming with manatees, avoid splashing and excessive noise making to not alarm or startle the manatees.
DON’T wear scuba gear. The wet suits we wore served many a purpose, as they not only act as a flotation device in the water, but they also keep you warm in up to 60 degree water temperatures. (Our water was about 70 degrees)
DO practice passive observation when swimming with manatees. That means, do not approach, chase, surround, pinch, grab, poke, etc. Just enjoy the swimming experience and let them be.
DON’T step on the manatees. That said, you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where the manatee decides to swim directly below you. In that case, stay relaxed and avoid dropping your feet until they pass.
DON’T give the manatees anything to eat. Trust me, they have a happy enough time chomping on the greenery at the bottom of the lake.
If you are lucky enough to find a group of manatees swimming together, DO NOT attempt to separate them from the group. Again…passive observation.
Do always give manatees the right of way- avoid swimming over or hovering over (although, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not unlikely that you’ll find them underneath you).
Last, but not least, DO take a moment to just enjoy and take in the experience. It’s great to have photos and videos to relive it all, but DON’T spend all of your time experiencing it through a camera lens.