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Swim Where the Manatees Live
Tour # 22
Runs : Saturday

Swim With the Manatees at Crystal River

It's off to a team of professional manatee experts in Crystal River.

Breakfast Bag & Hot lunch Included

Enroute you will be provided a breakfast bags.

Masks and snorkels are included for a fabulous, narrated boat tour on the picturesque Crystal River.

You are encouraged to swim and snorkel in the home of the Florida manatee while under the guidance of certified dive masters.

Then, enjoy a basket style hot lunch in a riverside pub and restaurant.

Homosassa State Wildlife Park

To end your day, you'll visit Homosassa State Wildlife Park, famous throughout Florida for the rehabilitation of injured animals.

It is here you'll have the chance to see the current manatee residents at the park during an informative and entertaining feeding session with one of the park rangers.

You'll also see bears, panthers, alligators and even a hippo as you explore the rest of the park.

This tour is the ultimate in nature at its best, yet exciting and informative all in one day.

Remember the camera to capture those one of a kind memories.

Manatee Swim Review by Ada Ospina

The manatee swimming tour was definitely on exciting one.

I really love water mammals and this was the perfect way to get into some water and get up close and personal with them.

My morning started off very early.

I had to set my alarm clock for 5:00am to make sure I was ready and get to the designated pick up location.

Thankfully I didn’t have to eat breakfast because you are given a bagged breakfast on the ride.

Getting to Crystal Lake

I was picked up in a 14-passenger van at about 6:30am.

There were already a few other people onboard.

I enjoyed my orange juice and a bit of a muffin as we picked up one more party.

We were on the road by 7:00am and slowly we all spoke about our current travels and expectations for the day.

There were eight of us in total and none of us had done anything like this.

The ride was about an hour and a half and our driver chatted with us as well.

Once we made it to Citrus County we jumped off the highway and headed to the meeting point for the excursion.

It was here where we watched a film about how to interact with manatees and then changed into our swimming gear.

Some people opted for wetsuits, but I felt that the water was warm enough to swim in a single piece bathing suit.

Snorkel, mask and fins were included.

You can also purchase a film waterproof camera if you don’t own one.

Off to Crystal Lake

We boarded our van again after everyone headed to the dock.

It was there we boarded a pontoon boat and headed out towards Crystal Lake.

The dive master was also our guide.

Some of the main tips are not to touch manatees with two hands (remember they are an endangered species), do not splash water and keep your voices low.

Once we made it to the alcove where many manatees like to hang out the boat was anchored and everyone began to slowly get into the water.

From the boat we could see many male manatees slashing around (which they do while trying to entice females).

The water was pretty warm and when you are underwater you could hear the calves making a clicking noise, which they use to communicate with their mother.

Swimming With The Manatees

I was a bit scared initially.

Regardless of the fact that manatees are very docile and playful they still weigh upwards of 1,300 pounds.

If one darts by me I’m pretty sure it will feel like a ton of bricks hitting me.

Needless to say it was within a few minutes that I began seeing manatees under the water and coming to the surface.

I reach a hand out as one came nearby and rubbed its belly.

They LOVE belly rubs and this is the perfect way to interact with them.

Keep in mind that many of them are used to seeing humans in these waters during winter months.

Over the course of an hour I saw well over a dozen manatees and watched as others interacted with them.

One woman was even playfully nudged by one of these sea cows.

This was beyond and amazing experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat, especially since I’ve quelled my fears of these big, grey cuties.

After an hour of treading water you do burn a few of those vacation calories.

I was content with heading back to the boat and watching them swim about again.

As everyone else boarded again we were treated to some piping hot chocolate.

The ride back included some kind farewells from a few manatees that seemed to enjoy our playtime together.

The Afternoon Activities

From a brief moment I had forgotten about the afternoon activity and though that we where heading back to Orlando.

Once we made it back to the dock we headed back to our van and went back to the dive shop we were at earlier in the morning.

It is here that we rinsed off and changed to dry clothing.

Consider packing a hairbrush and deodorant in addition to your towel and dry undergarments.

The dive master records video throughout the excursion and you are able to purchase a DVD copy.

This is a great way to commemorate this once in a lifetime experience.

Lunch

Shortly after our driver gave us a list of menu options so that he could place our lunch order.

There is something for everyone on the menu so it doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian or have gluten allergies, you will find something on the menu for you.

Within a few minutes of our arrival to the nearby restaurant we had our selected meals to enjoy.

Lunch was very filling and the portions were great.

I selected a calzone, but when I saw the chef salad that another person had I almost felt like bartering her for it.

After a great lunch we headed to the Homosassa State Wildlife Park.

The park is home to a number of rescue animals and a quite a few manatees looking for a warm water refuge in the winter.

Most of the animals here have very interesting stories about how they came to this park.

There is everything from hippos to American bald eagles here.

You can even feed birds in the aviary.

The entire day was great and also a bit tiring.

If you are looking for something beyond theme parks this is a great way to try something new that you can’t do back at home.

Not only do you get to swim with manatees, but also you get to see the natural Florida.

After spending a few hours at the Homosassa Wildlife Park thank the park staff and many volunteers before heading back to Orlando. The entrance fees go towards the care and preservation of the park lands and its animals. #FloridaManatees
After spending a few hours at the Homosassa Wildlife Park thank the park staff and many volunteers before heading back to Orlando. The entrance fees go towards the care and preservation of the park lands and its animals. #FloridaManatees
Check out some of Hermine's - from the Harry Potter movie franchise- family while you are at the Homosassa Wildlife Park. There are a number of birds and other animals to learn about and admire. #FloridaManatees There is even a hippopotamus that resides at the Homosassa Wildlife Park. He's over 60 years old so you may not see much action from him, but it is still nice to watch him wade in his pool or sunbath in his shelter. #FloridaManatees The birds that reside at the Homosassa Wildlife Park have been rescued and rehabilitated, but many have other issues that keep them from being released back into the wild. #FloridaManatees In the underwater observatory at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park there the 50 year old observatory has given park visitors a firsthand view of schools of fish. #FloridaManatees The Homosassa Wildlife Park also advocates for the gentle sea cows the live nearby. Learn more about these water mammals and how you can also help them survive and flourish. #FloridaManatees The lagoon at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park contains many large schools of fish. You can watch them in their natural habitat via the underwater observation deck the juts out into the lagoon. #FloridaManatees The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is home to a number of rescued animals that cannot survive in the wild. The park also opens their waters to nearby manatees visiting for the winter. They can enjoy the warm waters. #FloridaManatees After spending time frolicking with the manatees you will head make your way to Natalia's Pizza & Pasta for a hearty lunch. The portions are large enough to share if you are traveling in a group want to try more than one selection. #FloridaManatees After a quick welcome from a nearby manatee they often head back below the surface to graze on water grass and socialize with other manatees. #FloridaManatees As you travel further away from the dock on the Swim with Manatees tour you will see curious manatees poking their heads out to greet you. #FloridaManatees Once you are on the pontoon boat you and the other guests will leisurely make your way to one of the coves that manatees enjoying wading in. #FloridaManatees Once you are in your wetsuit or swimwear you will head over to Pete's Pier Marina to board a pontoon boat and get ready to visit the Manatees in the area. #FloridaManatees The dive shop is adorned with a number of historic dive related items, including this dive suit. #FloridaManatees The dive shop welcomes you to the Manatee Swim experience has a number of adorable manatee themed merchandise for you to take home. #FloridaManatees

 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)

How long is the excursion?
10 hours

What is included?

  • Round-trip Transportation 
  • Breakfast Bag
  • “Swim With Manatees”
  • Pontoon Boat Cruise
  • Mask Snorkel Fins
  • Lunch
  • Admission to Homosassa Springs State Park
What is not included?
Gratuities.

By Marie Ospina

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Pick Up Schedule

Terms

Swim Where the Manatees Live Tour Tickets
Runs : Saturday

Adult age 12 + : $109
Child ages 3-11 : $89


Swim Where the Manatees Live Tour Tickets
Adult age 12 +
Child ages 3-11
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