Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River Florida over in Crystal springs was by far one of our FAVORITE Roadschooling Adventures TO DATE. It was an amazing experience for both my girls and me. We booked a tour with River Ventures for a group boat tour which took us out onto Crystal Springs and into the natural clear spring waters to swim out in the wild with the Manatees who spend their winters in those waters.
Education is what you make of it
This was not an education-specific tour. However, the guides are super knowledgeable, willing, and excited to share with you all they know about manatees, their rehabilitation, the area, the springs… My girls learned an INSANE amount about wildlife refugees, manatees as a species, Florida’s natural springs, boat safety, and more!
One of the coolest things to witness when we head out on Roadschooling adventures is how my kids interact with their “teacher” compared to public schooled kids. Homeschooled kids are very used to the idea that “the world is their teacher” and actively choose to learn through their experiences, becoming a learned behavior. Whereas, traditionally schooled kids often see these experiences as completely recreational often not asking or caring about the learning aspect of these opportunities. I will 100% admit that before my kids were my educational responsibility I did this as a parent and I had little educational expectation outside of school for my kids. I figured “school was doing it” and lets let this time just be “Fun” but, they LOVE LEARNING THROUGH LIFE. NEVER discredit these moments – homeschoolers or not!
Tips for swimming with the Manatees
- Swim with manatees in Florida in the winter.
- Be on the first tour of the day – the waters are quietest then and the manatees are more active in the morning after a full nights rest.
- Make sure to go out onto the waters with a reputable company that knows the area. Otherwise you wont know where to look or how to get there! Most tours will also provide you with all the extras you need- wetsuits, snorkles, etc…
- Bring an underwater camera! You def don’t want to miss out on this experience!
- Stay relaxed and calm and don’t go alone for the first time out.
- DON’T BE A JERK! Manatees are gentle, sweet, and curious creatures. Don’t harasse them, poke them, stand, walk, or swim in their space. Be respectful!
Manatee tour recommendations
- River Ventures (Who we went out with!)
- Plantation on Crystal River Adventure Center
- Homosassa Manatee Snorkeling Center (100% Women-owned and operated)
- Crystal River Watersports
- Manatee Tour and Dive
Where else can you see manatees?
Manatees are all over in the waterways in Florida between Nov-March. Here are some additional top places to see manatees in Florida.
- Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park – Wakulla Springs
- Lovers Key State Park – Fort Myers
- Manatee Observation and Educational Center – Fort Pierce
- Manatee Lagoon – West Palm Beach
- Manatee Viewing Center – Tampa Electric, Apollo Beach
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – Spring Hill
- Lee County Manatee Park – Fort Myers
- Manatee Springs State Park – Chiefland
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – Titusville
- Blue Spring State Park – Orange City