Just as the title of this post says, we swam with wild manatees, and it was awesome. AWESOME. Even better than my first time 😉
If there was one thing we were going to do while in Florida, this was it. The top of my list. The one thing that I needed to do. This was our third visit to River Safaris in Homasassa Florida, and they never disappoint. The first year we did one of their air boat tours through the gulf of Mexico – it was INCREDIBLE. So much fun! Last year we did the same as we just did, we went as a family and rented one of their Pontoon boats for a day. All you need is your drivers license! They give you a map, and some instructions, and send you on your way.
First stop was the Homasassa Springs where the Manatees travel to when the water gets cold. It’s really just is as simple as dropping anchor, and jumping in. They are there, and they are ready for human interaction. They are the epitome of gentle giants.
I think I created a bond pretty fast with one particular Manatee. He (or she) was HUGE, probably at least 12 feet long, and had a very large scar on it’s back – probably from being run over by a boat moving too fast in the shallow waters where they are normally found. We swam together for a good 45 min and at one point I thought he was done, so I let him swim off. As I was simming back towards the group I felt a sudden nudge from underneath – He swam right up under me, and I pretty much rode him back in. Ummmm, can you say FALLING IN LOVE? Can I take him home??? Seriously, my heart felt like it was melting. When it was time go he followed me back to our boat, stuck around for a bit until he knew we were really leaving, and swam off sadly into the sunset… (okay, there was no sunset, but it felt that dramatic).
While we were swimming, I had my camera rolling and snapping the entire time, and put together a little video of our time in the water with the Manatees:
This was my favorite day in Florida hands down. I don’t think I could ever tire of jumping in the water with these gentle giants. I can’t wait until next year – maybe I will even reconnect with my scarred manatee friend.
After our swim, we turned our boat in the other direction and headed out to the Gulf Coast. We spotted a few jumping dolphins, had a bit of a picnic, and soaked up the sun while on the water. I even got to drive.
I highly recommend River Safaris tours in Homasassa, and if you are in the area (we drove an hour to get there), check them out! If you are not comfortable with taking a boat out yourself, they have chartered tours. They also offer air boat rides (again, SO fun), and swimming with the Manatees as well. They will take you to the same location with wet suits and snorkels.
Can’t wait until next year!