ABOUT SNORKELING WITH MANATEES
Snorkeling With Manatees has been providing quality manatee tours and snorkeling tours for over 19 years every day. Not just in the Migratory months (Winter, when the seasonal tour guides show up) but every day, rain, sleet or snow. Ok, you know we don't have snow Right? Ok, just checking... Well now that I have your attention, please read on and enjoy.
When starting this business, 18 years ago, it was from the love of water and interacting with wildlife. We love to introduce Mother Nature to families from around the world to our local residents (manatees and dolphins), which support our conduct. This business is designed to educate the public about the wildlife and its habitat in Citrus County. As with some tour operators that cater to mass quantities of people all at once, we choose to cater to the mass quantities of people a little at a time. However, our prices might be a little more (2 to 3 bucks) than other tour guides. The reason is, we cater to small groups as with other operators that charge less, might have you on a boat with up to 18 or more passengers.
By keeping our boat capacities to 6 pack boats (6 passengers only on a 10 - 15 passenger boat) it allows the customer to have the entire boat instead of a little spot to sit. This also allows us to keep our cost of operation consistent to pass it along to you. This also keeps so many people from congregating around manatees and allows for a better personal encounter and less impact on the manatees' habitat. However, we can not control what other tour guides may do. But since we are with a small group we can relocate to another area to get away from so many people if need be. You do not need 6 passengers to book a tour, we just only allow 6 per boat. If you have more than 6 passengers, we can arrange 2 boats to accommodate. Boats will travel separate but be together for the swimming portion of your tour. The captains and crews that are employed by our business always ensure the safety for our passengers and the habitat, to allow our future generations to be able to enjoy in the future. We would like to thank you in advance for your support and encouragement of this wonderful opportunity to explore this wildlife encounter.
Don't be confused with other operators (Tour Guide Company's) that offer a Semi-Private tour. This just means you will be sharing the boats with a small group. It is not a "PRIVATE" Tour. Funny, that if you goggle the term or phrase "Semi-Private" it refers to hospital beds.... Hmmm not sure about this one. We offer shared boats, (what others called a "Semi-Private") with never no more than six passengers per boat. If you would like a Private Tour, we also offer "Half Day Private" and "Full Day Private" including lunch with only your passengers you bring with you.
This boat tour is recommended for all ages, however we recommend ages from two years old and up. You can choose to swim/snorkel or just ride on the boat. This manatee encounter is one of many Bucket List items and people travel from all over the world to interact with these majestic giants. This is not like snorkeling on a pretty reef in the Keys or the Bahamas where you have to hold your breath to go underwater. You just float using a mask and snorkel (No Fins) to view these wonderful animals.
Manatee and Water Conditions
The spring waters are always 72 degrees f (21 Celsius) all year. This makes our waters feel very warm through the Citrus County winter months. The cooler months October thru March is when the migratory manatees stay and visit us in the clear spring waters to maintain their body warmth. These months give us the best viewing of manatees in the spring waters. During the summer months, the manatees can tolerate the bay waters which are 80 degrees plus. The bay waters may not be the clearest during the summer months but offer the manatees, food and warmth which is much needed for the manatee to survive.
This encounter is done in the inland waters of the Old Homosassa River and Crystal River Refuge - year round. If the Homosassa River is not producing manatee sightings during the summer months, we have the option to take you to the Crystal River Refuge. This allows us to choose the best water time for seeing manatees. This option is only carried out during the non migratory season (June - October) if needed. We are the only manatee tour guide sevice that has this option. Thunderstorms typically do not affect our manatee tours for we are inland and not out in the gulf waters which are connected to the spring waters by river and canals. If the weather channel calls for a 60% chance of rain! It typically means a 60% chance of rain for 5 minutes. So thunder storms usually don't affect our tours.
Tour Times 8:00 AM and 11:30 AM daily and 3:00 PM DAILY
All tour times are equal for manatee encounters. Let me explain. The manatees' behavior all depends on what they do the night before, such as staying out late finding food or traveling to seek warmth. The old myth about getting out early (6 AM) was started between two tour operators years ago. One operator (tour guide) was just trying to beat the other tour operator out to the springs, so this became an industry standard comment. Also some tour operators will charge you more for an afternoon tour, just because they can. It is silly to say that the manatees are more active the first thing in the morning. They are wild animals and have no set pattern. FYI, if the majority of the tour operators say that you need to start early ( 6 am ish ) in the morning, wouldn't you think that everyone will be starting at the crack of dawn... Just sayin! Our tour times are set for our guest, not the manatees.
Prices of tours
Our tour prices are set for your wallet. When researching other tour guides and services, look at what you get. When you compare apples to apples, we offer so much more. We include so much more for the money. Why? Because you are coming to us for a fun filled day and thats how we would want to be treated. You, might see a lower price but you will get what you pay for. If you do the math and the break down, you will not be disappointed. This is not a sales pitch, but the truth. So what we have done is to minimize the impact on the manatees, is to only allow 6 people at a time on each boat with our selected tour times. So, no matter what the time of morning it is, the manatees are not affected by the huge crowds by only taking 6 passengers per boat. We suggest you start your tour the first part of the day from sun up to around 3 ish.
On a really cold day, which is awesome all day, we offer a 3 pm tour, but that is a day to day decision. The reason we offer two tour times is that some of our guests have other obligations in the afternoon, you know, Disney, Sea World, flights to catch or just hanging out with the grandparents. So, the 8 AM tour works for our 8 AM guest that have afternoon plans. If you have any questions or doubts feel free to call or email. The manatees are a lifestyle to us, not a tourist attraction.
What to Bring and Where to Meet
Getting ready for your manatee tour is very simple. Have your bathing suit on before leaving your Motel/Hotel, bring towels and a sweet shirt or hoodie. After your travel to our check in location, you will finish your check in. Then after a short briefing you will follow the captains to the boats. This travel time is about 6 - 12 minutes. Leave all of your bulky items( extra clothes, bags and towels) in your vehicles at check in location, ( Check in locations can very based on sightings, if different location is required, we will notify you upon booking) Since your driving you car to the boats, you will not need to unload all of your gear at the check in location. After reaching the boats, then you can bring all of your equipment and personals to board the boats. We ask that you be on time for your tour. We do not require you to arrive earlier than the listed time of your tour. We look forward to meeting you and your families very soon.
TOUR TIMES AS FOLLOWS:
- 8:00 and 11:30 AM Manatee Tours all year
- 3:00 PM Seasonal December 1st - March 31st
- Except for Major Holidays
Our business was founded in 2000 when we decided to "go public" with some long-held family fun times. Response was immediately overwhelming. Starting from our own little docks and two employees, we now have five captains and continue to grow.