Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

Do you know how to swim with a manatee? After a quick lesson, my family and I were ready to get into the water and swim.

A Real Life Swim with Manatee

No matter how much you read about it, look at photos, watch videos or see them from a far in aquariums nothing can prepare you for your first encounter. Nothing!

DisclosureTMOMSomething that truly made the difference for us, and something that the company we chose (Snorkel with Manatee) had in comparison to others in Crystal River was that we were able to swim with the Manatee of Homosassa Springs.

For some reason more people go to Crystal River than Homosassa Springs, which is 74 degrees year round (same as Crystal River). It also has the same perfect conditions and the same amount of manatee coming here year after year.

When I booked the tour I had no idea about this huge difference. In Crystal Rived you will find hundreds of people every day which isn’t appealing to me. While we were getting ready to get to the boat we were told that we were going to Homosassa Springs instead. This worried me because I hadn’t read anything about the place and didn’t know that this area was a good place to swim with them.

Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

That’s when we learned the hidden truth. No other company in the area comes out here. This made the swimming area ours and ours alone. What an incredible surprise!

We also had a lot of fun with our guide and captain. She has a genuine love for these animals. Even when she has a day off, she goes out to swim with them. She told us that her love affair with these creatures started when she was seven years old.

Knowing that made the experience smoother. And trust me, just being face to face with a manatee for the first time makes your heart stop – in a good way. We were given some guidelines but we didn’t really know how to act and its mass and unexpected curiosity can completely throw you off guard. So having her around was great!

After this experience I am sure that my oldest boy has found his calling. He instantly became friends with the baby manatee that came by to say hello with his mom.

Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

Photo credit: Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Gringa TravelingMom

He called his new buddy Ralph and soon bonded and played with him for over one hour.

To us the greatest revelation was how friendly and sociable these creatures were. Ralph didn’t want to leave my son’s side at all. Even after we all got back into the boat he clung onto a rope until the engine was turned on. We then waved our goodbyes.

Saying goodbye to these creatures is really hard. My boys still talk about Ralph and about how they will return some day.

On the other hand my baby went into the water, got a bit freaked by the huge animal that wanted to play with him and decided to return to the boat and wave from there.

On the ride back we had hot cocoa as we reminisced about our incredible adventure.

I know it was a good day out because the baby fell asleep really fast.

I highly recommend swimming with Manatee to every family with kids. Your kids will learn, fall in love and understand the Manatee.

This was without a doubt one of the greatest highlights not only of our trip, but of our year!