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Manatees in the Everglades: A Naples Day Trip You Won't Forget!

Read about where to see manatees in the Everglades. Take an Everglades manatee tour in Naples with Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Adventures.
Where can you see manatees in the Florida Everglades? It turns out that manatees live alongside the residents of Naples along the Florida Gulf Coast

What are Manatees? 

Sometimes called sea cows, manatees are plant-eating marine mammals. 

There are three species of manatee: the Amazonian manatee, West Indian manatee, and West African manatee. The Florida manatee is a sub-species of the West Indian manatee and can be found in the Florida Everglades.

A manatee spotted near the Florida Everglades

Did you know that in the Age of Exploration, New World explorers sometimes mistook manatees for mermaids?

Dugongs are similar to manatees but there are some key anatomical differences, namely, a fluked tail and a larger snout. Dugongs are mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere around Australia. Unlike manatees, dugongs are rarely found in rivers.

Where and How to See Manatees in the Florida Everglades

Read on as we get up close and personal with manatees in the Florida Everglades in what turned out to be one of our most memorable wildlife encounters in all of our travels.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other amazing wildlife adventures to inspire your travels? Check out my photos of Tasmanian Devils at Bonorong Wildlife Park in Australia and Shoebill Storks in the wild in Uganda.

Manatees Guaranteed on a 90 Minute Boat Cruise

We booked ourselves in for a boat tour with Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Adventures (aka Manatees Guaranteed). At $64.99 USD per person, the 90 minute Manatee Sightseeing & Wildlife Boat Tour is expensive but very, very worth it. 

The boat only holds 6 people. The tour operator will often give an internet discount if you mention that you saw the tour on their website (we took advantage of this for $20 off per person).

Where to See Manatees in Florida: Manatee spotted near the Florida Everglades

The manatee watching tour launches from the Port of the Islands dock in Naples near the edge of the Florida Everglades. 'Captain Storm' was at the helm and he was every bit as much of a character as his name would suggest.

Captain Storm led us out onto the narrow dock. We were soon aboard our open-air vessel which was equipped with a canopy to protect us from the harsh Florida sun as we journeyed out into the channel to where we could expect to see manatees.
Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Adventures boat in Naples, Florida at the edge of the Everglades

Manatee Zone: Idle Speed, No Wake

Before we knew it, we had cast off to look for manatees, those gentle giants of the river systems around Florida.  Warning signs sternly told us to go at 'Idle Speed'.  

Manatees are most often injured or killed by propellers on speed boats going too fast in the waters where they live. 
Sign warning: Manatee Zone, Idle Speed, No Wake

The Art of Manatee Spotting

Captain Storm gave out polarizing sunglasses to make it easier to spot the manatees in the water. Soon we saw something lurking below the surface and before we knew it, we were face to face with this cutie.  This young manatee was swimming with its mom and was super curious about our boat!
Where to See Manatees in Florida: Naples Florida
The manatee calf came right up alongside us! We also got a good glimpse of the manatee's mama.  She was huge!
Where to See Manatees in Florida: Naples Florida near the Florida Everglades
At one point, the manatee calf started hovering really close to the surface and stuck its snout out of the water to say 'hello'.
Manatee snout peeking out of the water
Our Everglades river tour to see manatees was definitely off to an auspicious start!
Manatee seen below the surface of the water near the Florida Everglades in Naples

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Did you know that Naples is less than a 2 hour drive from Miami? Once you've gotten your fill of Florida wildlife, why not get an architecture fix in the Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District.

Manatee Footprints

Captain Storm told us to keep an eye out for a manatee's footprint, a telltale sign of their presence.  You can a manatee footprint here...a series of circles in the water.  The manatee is just ahead of the footprint.
Where to See Manatees in Florida? Manatee footprints in the water on the Florida Gulf Coast

Where to See Manatees Among Florida's Mangroves

We soon moved on and left Mama Manatee and baby to go about their business.  We cruised down the main channel admiring the mangrove forest as we went. It was a spectacular day to be out on the water!
Boat wake along a channel through the Florida Everglades.
Our boat was equipped with a very small motor to be mindful of the safety of the manatees living in these waters. 

When we thought we were close to manatees, Captain Storm would turn off the main engine and we'd glide slowly and silently using the power of this little motor.
Where to see manatees in Florida: Tiny motor on the boat used to spot manatees near Naples

Developing a Good Eye for Spotting Manatees

It turns out that I have a pretty good eye for manatee spotting :-)  I was the only one on our boat to see this footprint in the distance and Captain Storm took us over to have a look.

Sure enough, two adult manatees were speeding along.
Where to see manatees in Florida: animated gif of a pair of manatees near Naples

Manatees in Your Backyard

As we were headed back to the Port of the Islands Marina after our 90 minute manatee sightseeing tour, I noticed this lovely home nestled right along the channel.  How cool would it be to have manatees so near to where you live; in your backyard, really?!
House along a channel at the edge of the Florida Everglades

Use Insect Repellent When Looking for Manatees

As our manatee spotting tour came to a close, we drank in the sunshine.  The only downside of the trip was the stinging flies that seemed to take a liking to us.  

Captain Storm offered us some insect repellent at the start of the trip but those of us that declined got bitten quite badly.  A word of advice, use the insect repellent before you set out to see manatees. Future you will thank you :-)
Where to see manatees in Florida: Shallow channel near Port of the Islands Marina in Naples

Thanks to Captain Storm for a Memorable Day Looking for Manatees!

The dock came back into view and it seemed like we were disembarking all too soon -- this trip was so much fun! 

We highly recommend a visit to Port of the Islands Marina in Naples for a chance to see manatees in Florida up close. They truly are gentle giants.
Where to see manatees in Florida: Port of the Islands Marina in Naples
If you're looking for more nature and wildlife adventures in Florida, the mangrove swamps near the beaches of Pelican Bay in Naples are also a wildlife and bird lovers dream. 

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Manatees in the Everglades: A Naples Day Trip You Won't Forget!
Manatees in the Everglades: A Naples Day Trip You Won't Forget!
Read about where to see manatees in the Everglades. Take an Everglades manatee tour in Naples with Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Adventures.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog