Swimming with Manatees
All the research that I did before the trip indicated that you needed to go with a tour company, so we chose the most highly rated one! River Ventures, located in Crystal River Florida, (within a 3 hour drive of my grandparents) lived up to their hype and made the day fantastic.
We made our reservation for the day a few weeks before our vacation. I would advise that all parties should make reservations, especially in the popular months of January and February, because spots fill up!
Included in the price is the transportation into the manatee area (drive and boat ride), education/safety training, the wetsuits/snorkels, and a guided tour in the water. This totals about 3 hours, approximately 1.5 hours in the water with the manatees. Because we were in wet suits and had pool noodles, this experience is accessible to all swim levels.
We arrived there early and were able to explore a bit. The building was my heaven: manatee themed everything. I am not ashamed to say that I had at least half of the gift shop items already…
Your time will start with an educational training about the importance of your safety and the manatee’s safety. After this, it is time to get suited up! If you have never put on a wet suit before… it is an (unflattering) treat 🙂
We took a car ride to the marina and then about a 10 minute boat ride to get to the actual fresh (warm) water spring that the manatees spend their time at. All of this transition was smooth and made easy. We began to see manatees before we even got off the boat!
Our boat driver was hilarious and our tour guide was equally as entertaining. It was clear that they love what they do and are passionate about the wildlife. This was refreshing to me because all too often people do not like what they do for work and it is evident. Plus, because I love manatees so much, I want the people that work with them daily to love them as much as I love them.
Everything about our experience was divine. River Ventures was professional and fun. 100% worth the money. I will go back to River Ventures when we are in Florida next!