One of the most popular and interesting animals in Homosassa, Florida are manatees, also known as sea cows. Visitors from all over the world flock to the Homosassa River to see these gentle giants in their natural environment.
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is one of the best places in Florida to see and swim with manatees. The park is open 365 days a year, from 9 am to 5p m (subject to change), with later closing hours during the summer.
To get to the park, take US 19 to Homosassa Springs and follow the signs to the park. The drive from Orlando takes about 1:30 hours.
When visiting the park in March, you can take a boat tour to observe the manatees in their natural habitat or visit the park’s underwater observatory to get an up-close look.
The best time to see manatees in Homosassa, the length of the manatee swim tour, the rules for swimming with manatees, and how many manatees you can expect to see are all questions we cover in this guide.
Besides our own experience, we will also discuss some reports from tourists who have actually been able to swim with these incredible animals.
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When Is the Best Time to See the Manatees?
November through April is the best time to see manatees in Homosassa Springs. At this time of year, manatees gather in the Homosassa River because the water is warmer than elsewhere. This is the best time to swim with these gentle giants when you can see dozens of manatees at once.
How Long Is the Manatee Swim Tour in Homosassa Springs?
On average, a manatee swim tour will take you three to four hours. Time spent getting outfitted with wetsuits and snorkeling equipment, as well as boarding and disembarking the boat, are factored in.
In the water, you’ll have the chance to swim alongside manatees for 30 to 45 minutes.
Are There Rules to Follow When Snorkeling With Manatees?
Guests to Homosassa must adhere to a number of regulations if they wish to swim with manatees. To avoid disturbing the manatees, one of the most crucial rules is to keep your distance at all times.
It is not permitted to interact with the manatees in any way, including touching, feeding, chasing, or harassing them.
Wetsuits and snorkeling equipment are required, and you should always listen to the tour guide.
How Many Manatees Will You See?
Depending on the season and the conditions, the number of manatees you see on a swim tour may change. In the Homosassa River, manatee sightings are common during the colder months of the year.
Keep in mind that manatees are naturally unpredictable wild animals. It is possible to go on a tour during the winter and not see any manatees at all.
Are the Manatees Safe to Touch?
You are not permitted to interact with or feed the manatees in any way. This is done for the protection of both the manatees and the visitors. It is important to remember that manatees are wild animals and act accordingly.
Our Experience / Visitor Reports
Now that you know the basics of swimming with manatees in Homosassa, find our experience and some of the best visitor reports from those who’ve already experienced this incredible opportunity:
December (Our Experience ): We went to Homosassa Springs Wildlife in December and it was amazing! My son and I were so excited to see manatees and even though it was a tough weather day, the captain made it an awesome trip!
Due to the weather, we only saw a few manatees on our swim, but we learned so much and really had a great time. Swimming with manatees had been a dream for us for so long and our trip to Homosassa made this dream come true.
Late January: We had a fantastic trip with Captains Anna. We learned so much about the area on the boat ride before we arrived at the clearer part of the river, where the manatees are more abundant.
Anna was fantastic at finding manatees for us to see and was very knowledgeable about these creatures. For those who are concerned about the impact of humans on manatees, they carefully explained all of the rules, and they were gentle in reminding us about how to interact with these amazing creatures. Remember, that there are areas off-limits to any visitor.
Florida Manatee Facts
Visitors can see manatees in Homosassa Spring and other waterways in Florida throughout the year, but the population is much smaller from late spring to fall (May to October).
Here are five key facts about manatees in Florida that you should know:
- Manatees are Florida’s official marine mammal. Florida was the first state to declare them as a protected species in 1893.
- Florida is home to the largest population of manatees in the world. The most recent estimate of the population is over 6,500 individuals.
- The best place to spot manatees in Florida is in the warm-water springs and rivers along the Gulf Coast. Some of the most popular spots are Crystal River, Blue Spring State Park, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
- The best months to spot manatees in Florida are from November through March, sometimes until April. During this time, the manatee population increases as manatees migrate southward to warmer waters.
- The best time of day to spot manatees in Florida is early in the morning