Swimmers keeping a proper distance! ©D.Schrichte/

Manatees are Florida’s gentle giants – they can grow up to 13 feet, weigh thousands of pounds, and love to socialize! In the cooler months, manatees congregate at our freshwater springs and at power plants where they find warmer waters. Many of those areas make excellent places to see them from above – or even below. Be sure to recreate responsibly!

Enjoy and share our Ultimate Florida Manatee Guide: Ecotours, Snorkeling, Viewing Platforms, Webcams, and More! 

Manatee Snorkeling Tours  
  • Hire tour guides that protect manatees and teach responsible observation techniques. Click here for a map of every manatee snorkel tour in the state!
  • Do not touch, scratch, or pet manatees no matter how tempting or no matter how much one interacts.
  • Wear dive suits and clothing that protects your skin from the sun – do not wear sunscreen in our Florida waters. If needed use only “reef-safe” sunscreen.
  • Keep your feet off of the bottom of the waterbody – protect eelgrass and vegetation that manatees depend on for nutrients.
  • Never approach a mother and calf as it can separate the two.
  • Early morning tours are the best to see the manatees.
  • Never disturb a sleeping manatee.
Manatee Ecotours (not swim tours) 
  • Hire adventure guides that teach and practice manatee-safe paddling techniques. Click here for a map of every manatee ecotour!
  • If aboard a powered boat, strictly follow posted signs and never operate at full speed in the inland waters.
  • Never paddle over top of manatees and lift your paddles out of the water as they pass by.
  • Never provide food or water or touch manatees along side your vessel.
  • Early morning or late evening tours are the best.

A kayaker properly raising her paddle. ©D.Schrichte/

Manatee Viewing Platforms
  • Many observation areas allow locals and tourists to visit without getting in the water. Click here for a map of every viewing platform!
  • Check the live webcams (listed below) before you go to see how many and the times of day the manatee are congregating.
  • The best time to visit observation areas are early mornings, evenings, and during cold weather.
  • See our latest video on Facebook showing footage of a mother manatee nursing her twins – a rare sight!
  • Do not feed manatees or throw anything in the water.

Viewing platform in Crystal River. ©D.Schrichte/

Manatee Webcams

A kayaker properly keeping a distance. ©D.Schrichte/

Manatee Protection

Manatees nearly went extinct just a few decades ago – although their population has rebounded, threats remain. We’ve made it easy to support environmental nonprofits that protect manatees and the springs that they depend on! Also, follow our Water State video series – below is our video showcasing the success of restoring eelgrass in Kings Bay, Crystal River. Kings Bay is one of Florida’s largest natural manatee habitats! 


Special thanks to David Schrichte for being an advocate for manatees and providing photos for our Florida Manatee Guide. Please show your support by visiting his website

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