Manatees have been one of my favorite animals of all time, but I had never really thought about swimming with them. For Christmas, though, I received the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: United States and Canada and that was one of the things in there, so I booked myself a manatee swimming adventure in Crystal River, Florida with River Ventures. I was absolutely thrilled with my experience with them. It was crazy cheap! Only 45 dollars for over two hours with the Manatees!
When I arrived they were really welcoming, gave me a pastry for breakfast and showed me to the room for the informational video about the experience. After the video they handed out the wetsuits for us to put on (wetsuit, snorkel and masks are included in the $45). We rode out on the boat to a spring where there were a couple dozen manatees. There were other tours there, but our guide was really great and got us to an area with less people.
My first view of a wild manatee
I got down in the water, and immediately had a minor freak-out. I was suddenly very conscious of the fact that I was there alone, I hated that I couldn’t see my feet and I started thinking about what these manatees would actually be like face-to-face, and I honestly had to get back out of the water for a minute. (Pretty sad, I know…) However, the guide was really awesome and talked me down and swam next to me for the first few minutes, and made sure that I got some really great one-on-one time with the manatees.
Seeing this beautiful animal swimming towards me was a bit intimidating, and I was completely clenching my teeth so hard that I was pretty sure that I was going to bite through the snorkel, but as soon as I touched these beautiful animals I was even more in love.
Me taking a photo of this beautiful animal
Me touching a manatee
Giving the manatee kisses. They were so incredibly playful and very curious. They always approached us, one grabbed my arm with its little flipper, and they would nibble on people’s hair (those with long hair). It was unbelievable! Seriously a childhood dream come true.
A face only a mother could love…
Having a blast in Crystal River, Florida
I seriously could not have asked for a better manatee experience, and I would highly recommend anyone anywhere near the area to swim with these beautiful, graceful and docile creatures.
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