Dances with Manatee?

I been thinking about a Florida vacation this fall, specifically to kayak where Manatee are. Is this possible, practical, safe, legal, etc., etc.?

Where should I go to get the best paddling with manatee sightseeing and least motorboat traffic, and a good rental shop nearby (I dont want to haul my own boats).

Homassassa Springs
Near Chrystal River. Go all the way back to the boat landing, not the first livery you come to. You can rent canoes or kayaks. The Spring (where most of the manatees are) is about a 3 mi paddle. Water is very clear, 72 deg year round, take your fins and snorkle. Some motorboat traffic, not a lot when I was there.

and there’s a couple of spots along our coasts where warm water discharge from cooling ponds for electric gen N-plants attracts masses of them. Looks more like a herd of real cows than a pod of sea cows from pix I’ve seen. I think the big congregation attends warm water services on the west coast north of Tampa, but I’m not sure.

You may have better luck conducting a 2-part search:

  1. google manatee-prevalent areas in Florida, and then

  2. google Florida paddlesports outfitters if you’ll not br bringing your own boat, to see who’s got what how far away.

    As to bringing your mask, snorkel, & flippers -go ahead, yer a Joisey guoy. Me? I’m now an old Florida boy, and for that “wonderful” constant temp clear as gin waters -you and the manatees may think that’s warm, but for me, it’s one of those some kind of cool water wear days…! 72 is downright chilling, especially after an hour or so IN the water.

    For a take on manatee experiences, check out

    for the story, and see

    for pics of the area, including our frineds, the manatees.

    If you do come down, think about extending your tour a bit farther south down our way -we’ll show you Biscayne Bay and the Keys and maybe the Glades and SW coast areas if we can.

    Whatever, plan ahead, and make reservations early because you’ll be into snowbird and tourist season, where rates start to elevate and vacancies start to become filled rooms and filled hotesl & motels. Also be aware that there aren’t a lot of inexpensive places to stay in prime coastal areas.

    Baldpaddler & Randy, his bow man in their C-3 canoe, down for the Bogey & Bacall, sort of lamented the dearth of $50/nite motels in the Keys… I kinda just shook my head and said there were PLENTY -30-40 years ago! Down here, the rates bear what the traffic supports, and when added to the numbers of visitors we have, the rates can stay up because demand is so relatively high…! In theor case, it was compaunded by the local B&B event as well.

    SO at least think about it -we, TOO, have manatees (it’s one of the few things that slows down the hot rod boaters -when they come upon a no-wake zone and slow down), as you shall see if you visit those links up there!

    At any rate, we’ll be here -hjopefully you’ll stop by and we, together, can all

    Paddle on!

    -Frank in Miami

Hmm… I’m spoiled I guess
The manatees come to me every Winter. Lastest was less than 1/2 mile from my put in. In Winter it’s odd if I don’t see at least one or two on most longer regular paddles. The motorheads rarely notice them and think the slow zones are just a pain, but the darned things really are everywhere.

Had many local close encounters, including a bow lift wake up call for both man and manatee behind Lauderdale airport, and one that surfaced right by me and shared a large steamy breath (not rosy) near the port.

For your purposes, follow the others’ advice on seeking known congregation areas for that time of year. While common enough in lots of places, they can be easy to miss. Amazingly stealthy when they want to be for such massive things.

Crystal River
Has tons (pun) of manatees in the main spring. Check out this site.

East coast Florida
Any river or marina around Melbourne, Cocoa, Titusville. Every where I went there were manatees. Some of the rivers aren’t clear so if you want good visability–I would hit the springs.

Check out this URL to find places in Florida.

Rabid manatees seek lonesome paddler
we got them creatures all round these parts. manatees were taken off the endangered species list last year and then made the list within months. places i’ve been graced with their presence:

-homossassa springs

-crystal river

-weeki wachee: one of my favorites

-apollo beach

-clearwater beach

-sea world

the top three on the list have been give me’s for many years. especially with the ocean temp at 55-60 degrees-manatees head for the spring waters.

If you go to Crystal River…
…just don’t go too early in the season. I think they say the manatees are in from the Gulf in November through April, but we’ve gone in Nov and one time in March, and it was too warm–they were still/already out in the Gulf. So, some well-placed phone calls might save you some disappointment.

If you do make contact, though, it can be a magical experience. Don’t forget your snorkel gear, and have fun!