Swimming with Manatees in Orlando

by CaliCase Team on September 14, 2023


Orlando, Florida, is known for its theme parks, warm climate, and abundant natural beauty. While many visitors flock to the city for thrilling rides and entertainment. When it comes to swimming with manatees, there are some fantastic spots not too far away from Orlando where you can have a magical encounter with these lovable creatures. We're about to take you on a journey to Crystal River, Florida, where the manatees reign supreme. And be sure not to miss our complete article about the best spots for snorkeling in Orlando.

Where Can I Swim With Manatees In Orlando?


Imagine this: crystal-clear waters, lush vegetation, and the chance to get up close and personal with these aquatic marvels. Welcome to Crystal River Springs, a mere two-hour drive from Orlando. Here, for a small additional fee, you can legally swim with these gentle giants. Don't take our word for it; let the reviews speak for themselves. "A lot of room for kayakers and manatee to safely experience each other" raved one Google Maps reviewer. Another gushed from Maps reviews, "Beautiful springs! Swam with manatees! Amazing experience!"

Now, you might be tempted by Three Sisters Spring, located close to Crystal River. But hold your seahorses; from what we understood, you can't swim with the manatees here. However, don't let that deter you. The water is exceptionally clear, displaying a mesmerizing blue hue, and you can spot numerous manatees lazily enjoying the sanctuary. As one Google Maps reviewer wisely put it, "We visited in February and you cannot swim in the Three Sisters Springs. However, you can see MANY manatees in the springs, which is crystal clear and a beautiful blue color."

If you're up for adventure, consider kayaking at Three Sisters Spring. "This is such a beautiful place to kayak and snorkel," one reviewer enthusiastically shared. "Glad we chose to visit the springs via kayak as it wouldn't have been as memorable via the boardwalk, plus it was free to access via water compared to the $12.50 per person fee the refugee concessioner charges," from Jesse James W.

Homosassa Springs State Park is well-known for its manatee population, but to experience manatee encounters here, visitors typically need to take a boat tour or visit designated manatee viewing areas, as opposed to spotting them directly from a beach.

Snorkeling Tour Agency to Swim With Manatees

Several snorkeling tour agencies offer the opportunity to swim with manatees. In this article, we'll introduce you to some of them.


Image source: Discover Crystal River 

Fun 2 Dive

Image source: Fun 2 dive

They have been providing 5-star manatee snorkel tours since 1995 and are renowned for giving visitors the opportunity to come face to face with these gentle creatures in their natural habitat. They offer small, semi-private, and private tours conducted from stable boats equipped with ladders, ensuring safe and responsible manatee encounters. The agency provides three courses: the Classic Manatee Swim, Semi-Private Manatee Swim, and the Manatee Life Swim Tour. Reservations can be made online, and the tours operate year-round, including holidays.

Many of their clients have expressed satisfaction with their service. One Google Maps review states, “This was one of the best experiences our family has done. The entire staff at Fun 2 Dive are so friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. Our guide was Jessica, and she has an amazing personality-so full of life and a strong love for manatees.” Another review reads,I can't say enough about this amazing experience. Would highly recommend. Thank you so much Cally and Mack...you two rock! Keep up the good work”.

For further details and information, visit Fun 2 Dive's official website.


Explorida - Manatee Swim Tours


Explorida, a venture based in Florida, was born from the passion of locals who cherish the unique privilege of swimming with manatees in Citrus County. Located in the heart of Crystal River's historic downtown, they offer central access to manatee swims and other local activities such as sunset snorkeling, sunset sailing, and scallop charters (Explore more of their tours here). Explorida is committed to delivering exceptional customer service from sunrise to sunset, treating their guests like family: "Would recommend this experience to everyone, was worth every penny. Morgan was very friendly and helped us to prepare for our swim. Eric, our captain, was fun and gave us some fun facts about manatees, just like Amy, our guide in the water." Tea Bozin stated. 


Crystal River Manatee Tour (Family Adventure Charters)

Family Adventure Charters in Crystal River, Florida, offers a range of tours and charters for individuals, families, and groups. They have experienced USCG licensed captains and provide comfortable boats for various excursions.

According to their website, manatee swim tours cost $70.00 per person, while a dry tour is available for $40.00 per person. Sunset and Dolphin Cruises are also offered for $175.00 for two people, with a maximum of six, providing scenic views and dolphin watching. Family Adventure Charters aims to create lasting memories and is wheelchair accessible, child-friendly, and pet-friendly. Captain Tim, a USCG Master licensed captain, ensures a safe and enjoyable experience. "We had a very friendly and knowledgeable captain and the entire visit was one of the highlights of our trip to Tampa. We saw numerous manatee and even got to swim with and touch one. 100% would recommend to others" said one reviewer from Google Maps. To book a tour, you can call them at 352-445-5489 or learn more on their official website.

However, these are just a few of the agencies we've come across. You can also find more agencies on the TripAdvisor website.

When is the best time to visit Crystal River for manatee encounters?

The best time to visit Crystal River for manatee encounters is during the winter months, specifically from November through early March. This period is considered the prime manatee season in Crystal River because it attracts manatees to the area due to its warmer water temperatures, with the constant 72°F (22°C) springs providing a refuge for these gentle giants. Winter offers clearer water conditions, making manatees more visible for snorkeling and observation. Additionally, some manatees give birth during this season, offering the chance to see adorable manatee calves. However, it's essential to plan ahead and arrive early to avoid crowds, and always follow responsible guidelines for interacting with manatees to protect their habitat.


Do manatees have teeth?



Image source: Oceana

No, manatees do not have front teeth. Instead, they have a set of molars at the back of their mouths that are continuously replaced throughout their lives. These molars are used for grinding plant material, such as seagrasses, which makes up the majority of their diet. Manatees' lack of front teeth is an adaptation for their herbivorous lifestyle, allowing them to efficiently consume and digest vegetation without the need for sharp front teeth like those found in carnivorous or omnivorous animals.

Is there a risk of danger from manatees?

Manatees are not inherently dangerous to humans. They are gentle herbivores and are generally docile in nature. However, like all wild animals, they should be treated with respect and observed from a safe distance. Manatees are protected by laws that prohibit harassing, touching, or disturbing them in their natural habitat. While they are not dangerous, it's essential to follow regulations and guidelines to ensure both the safety of humans and the well-being of these vulnerable creatures.