One of the things I love the most about living on the West Coast of Florida is that it’s known as “Florida’s Nature Coast.” When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how many treasures there are right outside the front door. I never really appreciated all of the fun things there are to do until recently.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to experience the “Manatee invasion” that happens each winter in the warm springs on Florida’s Nature Coast. The manatees love to spend the winter in the warmer springs up river, instead of in the colder Gulf of Mexico. They come into the springs and rivers and are easily spotted by boaters, kayakers, and anyone who takes the time to look for them. 

If you’re going to hunt for Sea Cows, you can’t beat going to Three Sisters Spring in Crystal River. When we were there, the Manatee count was over 200, the weather was perfect, and the trip was easy. It’s a great day-trip for anyone visiting the Sunshine State. 

Manatee season runs from November to April, and there are many ways you can see the gentle creatures.

Four Ways to Experience Manatee Season in Florida 

  • Boat tours: you can hire out a boat tour that will take you down the river where you can see the manatees. The guides will know exactly where to find them and can point them out to you.
  • Kayaking/Paddle boarding: One of my favorite ways to see manatees is in a kayak. There’s something about being that close to them and seeing their size and gentleness up close and personal. If you’re going to kayak or paddle around manatees, I suggest you watch this video about paddling around Manatees.
  • Snorkeling with Manatees: I’ve never snorkeled with manatees, but I’m sure it’s a fun experience. There are rules to swimming with manatees, so be sure to go with an official guide and abide by the rules. We want to keep Manatees around for future generations to enjoy.
  • Visiting the Nature Preserve: The preserve at Three Sister’s Springs is a nice way to experience the manatees and see the gorgeous springs. I recently took my son there, and we enjoyed the day looking at the manatees from the boardwalk that surrounds the springs. I’d never seen so many manatees at one time before.

If you get a chance to see the Manatees in the Springs, take advantage of it! They’re so gentle and peaceful. Manatees are truly a Florida treasure.