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  • Writer's pictureAlly Abroad

Swimming with Manatees in Florida

Manatees are the cows of the sea. They are gentle, yet large. Swimming along side a massive manatee is a bucket list item that I checked off.

You can experience this unique adventure in Crystal River, Florida.

We flew into Tampa, Florida and rented a car. The drive to Crystal River is 1 hour and 12 minutes from Tampa. You have to go through a few tolls, so be aware of that on your trip.

I booked this through Viator for $68 a person. The company we used was Plantation Adventure Center. They provide you with a wet suit, towels, snorkel gear, and a snorkel guide. The guide also takes pictures during the excursion and you can purchase your pictures in a flash drive after the trip. The whole trip lasted about 3 hours.

We began by signing in at the front office. Then they fit you for a wet suit. You want it tight so it will allow you to float in the water on your belly. The company will make you watch a short video on how to interact in the water with the manatees.

They drive you on a boat through King’s Bay in Crystal River. They are searching for manatees along the way. We were lucky to see many manatees and get to swim along side them the entire journey. We experienced a mother and her calf. We also got to see them eating, swimming, and looking directly at us. The guide will show you how to float on your belly with your arms out. They don’t want you kicking your feet either. Also the guides urge you not to touch the manatees while swimming along side them. If one comes underneath you, you have to remain still and float above them. It is an amazing view and experience. They are so large when you are next to them. The whole experience I got to be right next to a manatee and observe them.

The guides will then take you to two different springs where you can float and try to dive down inside the spring if you would like.

This trip is for any age and they provide noodles if you want to float on one of those. I recommend purchasing the pictures because this is a once and a lifetime encounter with God’s magnificent manatees.

We swam with the manatees in May and the weather was phenomenal.

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