The Lee County Manatee Park is the Best Place to See Manatees in Florida
The manatee is Florida’s State Marine Mammal. While the cute and goofy-looking aquatic “cousin” of the elephant can be seen all along the gulf coast, you’re often lucky to see one just for a few seconds as it comes up for air. If you want to get a close look and see dozens of manatees, the Lee County Manatee Park right here in Fort Myers is the best place to see Manatees in Florida sleeping, playing, and swimming in huge groups.
When and Where to Go
Manatees will only be at the park when the Gulf temperature is below 68 degrees, so the best bet is to go during the winter time. The park website (linked above) updates when the manatees are out. You also want to try to get there earlier in the morning as the manatees tend to head out later in the day for food.
Why Do the Manatees Come to a Power Plant?
Since the plant opened, the manatees have recognized this is a place where they can come and warm up during the winter. They’re smart creatures and that’s why you’ll see dozens of them hanging out and sometimes even choosing the park to mate and raise their young.
Manatee Viewing by Land and by Kayak
The Fort Myers Manatee Park may not be the largest park out there, but it has room for picnicking, concessions, large groups, tours, and an amphitheater. Along the water, there are several great viewing points to see the manatees, including an area where you can see below the water and even hear the manatees. The crowds tend to thin out the further down you go. When you’re ready to come back, there’s a separate boardwalk through the mangrove trees you may enjoy.
There’s also the option of bringing a kayak in your Land Rover SUV, or renting one. The Orange River is a no wake zone, so you gently hang out with the manatees just outside the park or paddle down the river where you’ll see more Florida wildlife without being disturbed by noisy motor boats tossing you around. It’s a very relaxing and peaceful way to spend part of your day!