Make your own way to a designated meeting point, where your Coast Guard Certified Master Captain will share the itinerary and go over rules for snorkeling with the manatees. Slip on a wetsuit and board a covered pontoon boat (in the winter, it’s fully enclosed and heated).
As you slowly enter into the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, keep an eye out for birds, fish, and other wildlife who call the area home. If manatees are spotted, you can slip into the water with them, staying at a respectful distance all the while.
The best time to see the manatees is in the winter when they cluster in the warmer upstream waters of the reserve. An underwater photographer snaps shots throughout the day, and you can purchase photos or DVDs of your experience once back at the Manatee Center.