Throwback Thursday – swimming with manatees

A few years ago now, my friend and I decided to do something a little different and we booked to swim with manatees.

Governed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service you are able to swim with the manatees in Crystal River, Florida.

We used Sunshine River Tours – it was  8 years ago though so I couldn’t recommend them now as it is so long ago.

It was February so the morning was cool.  We had to get up very early to arrive there for approx 6.30am and we were a 1.5 hour drive away.  The tour started at 7am, but they suggested to allow 30 minutes to get your wetsuit on etc.  The road trip was lovely – we saw the mist rising, a deer and had really clear roads so no trouble getting there.

The tour price included wetsuit, mask and snorkel hire.  Our tour began with an informative video regarding the ‘rules and regulations’ for swimming with the manatees – the key thing to remember is that you should lie still in the water and let the manatees come to you.  Manatees are the most beautiful, gentle and inquisitive creatures – they are also very BIG!  I had quite a shock when one rose from the depths and appeared underneath me.

We were the first tour out so we got some quality time before other tours arrived, it did become quite crowded in the water towards the end of our session, so we got back in the boat and enjoyed a hot beverage.

I, personally, wouldn’t do it again.  I appreciate that I have done it so it is easy to say, however, I would and have many times been and observed the manatees at Blue Springs State Park and I enjoyed that much more – I didn’t have to get up so early and it didn’t cost as much either.  All that said, it is a once in a lifetime experience that you can’t do many places in the world.

Manatee Swim_Crystal River_2b_Find Orlando Fun

Northeast Regional Park Polk County Florida

Less than half a mile from our place in the sun, situated on US27 Going South from the US192 you will find the Northeast Regional Park – and what a hidden gem.

The park is open from 7am to 10pm.  There is ample parking available.

Down at the bottom end of the park there is a wonderful lake – there were a few people fishing this morning.  The water is clear and you could see the fish.

There are several picnic pavilions with BBQ facilities

3 walking trails – all less than 1 mile in distance, taking you through the oaks and Spanish Moss.  There were plenty of dragon flies, crickets and birds around today.

Moving up the park there are 2 dog parks – separated depending on size of dog!  With dog hurdles and doggie bags with waste disposal units right there.  There are even 2 gates to enter the parks to avoid any runaway pets!

2 basketball courts, soccer and American football pitches, tennis courts and a fantastic children’s playground with climbing frames, swings, slides and even adult seat swings for those watching the kids play.

And it’s all free…..