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Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

Settimo Torinese...
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Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

I will be in Florida next week visiting relatives in Sarasota and wish to drive up to Crystal River to snorkel with manatees, however my husband and I only have about half a day to spare on Feb25.

Considering most tours are 4hrs and that it is highly improbable we can make it to homosassa on time for the 9am tour, we were thinking of doing it on our own. Is it feasible?

Can we reach snorkeling spots with a kayak? Will kayak renters give directions/instructions as well as rent wetsuits?

Also, will we be able to get off the kayak and into the water and "park"the kayak somewhere or will we have to take turns?

All suggestions are very welcome!

Thanks

Weeza

5 replies to this topic
Elk Rapids, Michigan
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1. Re: Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

You need to call ahead. There are so many mantee in the river right now due to the cold they have stopped the tours a few times and not allowed anyone in. An alternative if you are time limited is to just go to the Homosassa Wildlife state park where you will see dozens and dozens of them. You can't swim with them but can observe them in their natural state.

Settimo Torinese...
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2. Re: Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

Thanks Bill,

Homosassa Wildlife Park is just awesome and I too would definitely recommend it (also for the hippo!) We went there on our last trip to Florida back in 2006 and that's where we fell in love with these docile creatures! The park

We had promised ourselves that on our next trip we would definitely get closer and snorkel with them.

I have emailed a couple of boat tour operators but am not really getting much info from them, they all say to call, but I was hoping to avoid the international call just yet and first get an idea of what is feasible and what not.

Amongst the different tour guides, any recommendation at this point?

Elk Rapids, Michigan
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3. Re: Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

Sorry never been on the tours myself as I have no desire to swim with the manatees. I am here now and there really are hundreds (so it seems) of them around the state park and in the 3 sisters in Crystal River. When they do shut down the tours you can still go on the board walk there and see them. It is right at freezing this morning so I am sure even more will come into the springs.

Tampa, Florida
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4. Re: Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

Keep in mine that it's also a **solid** two hour drive or a little more from Sarasota to Crystal River. -- just the trip up and back will take all of your half day.

You can't snorkel in either location, but you can see manatees at either the Teco Manatee Center in Apollo Beach (to the north) or the Florida Power & Light Manatee Park in Fort Myers (south) -- both are roughly an hour's drive.

Here's an article from last year I found -- there's a kayak outfitter who does tours at the Ft Myers site(at the bottom): https:/…

Swimming with them isn't quite what it's made out to be -- the water is cold (70-72F in the springs) and the rules against touching, following, and interacting with them are quite strict and very closely watched.

Elk Rapids, Michigan
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5. Re: Manatees: boat tour or DYO with rental kayak?

If you are still reading this thread go to www.chronicleonline.com for a great picture of the hundreds of manatee currently in 3 sisters.

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