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Where To See Manatees In Fort Lauderdale – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale then you’re in the right place.

Nothing can beat that amazing feeling of seeing a manatee up close and personal in their natural habitat!

Why not try it for yourself?

This post will tell you all of the best places to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out. 

Are There Manatees In Fort Lauderdale?

You have a good chance of seeing manatees in Fort Lauderdale. 

Manatees are large marine animals also sometimes referred to as ‘sea cows’. After seeing one of these beautiful creatures in real life, you’ll see why!

Manatees can be spotted in Fort Lauderdale in the many canals and rivers. You can often see them poking their heads out of the water in several spots across Fort Lauderdale.

These large, slow-moving grazers can weigh up to 1,000 lbs and grow up to 10 ft! 

So where can you see manatees in Fort Lauderdale?

Best Places To See Manatees In Fort Lauderdale

There are many different places in Fort Lauderdale where you can see manatees out in the wild.

Below I’ve summarized the best spots where you’ll have a good chance of seeing a manatee. 

The most popular way to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale is to join a kayak tour as this gives you the chance to get up close to the manatees and it’s the least disturbing way to see them.

There are several different kayaking tours available in Fort Lauderdale however the tour below is the best rated:

I’d recommend booking in advance as it often sells out especially in the summer.

Other great tours available in Fort Lauderdale which give you the chance to see manatees up close are:

George English Park

One of the best places to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale is at George English Park. 

George English Park is a large recreational park with so many different things to do. It’s perfect for the whole family. 

They have athletic fields, a basketball court, fishing, tennis courts, walking paths, a pavilion, picnic tables and more.

The best way to spot manatees in this park is to get out onto the water. I love joining guided kayak tours as this gives me the best possible chance of seeing a manatee in the flesh.

On a kayak tour you’ll glide past mansions, yachts, mangroves, sea grapes and you’ll see a wide range of wildlife including manatees, birds and more.

New River

Another great place where you can see manatees in Fort Lauderdale is along New River.

New River isn’t actually a river, it is a tidal estuary that winds through Fort Lauderdale and connects to the Everglades. Manatees can often be spotted at several points across this estuary.

The best way to see manatees is to get out onto the waters of the New River. I’d recommend joining a sailing tour along New River for the best chance of seeing a manatee.

During the sailing tour, you’ll be taken out onto the estuary, you can either relax on the boat or you can jump into the water for a swim or snorkel.

As well as manatees, you’ll also likely see dolphins, turtles and porpoises swimming alongside you. 

Everglades National Park

If you’re looking for a fun day trip from Fort Lauderdale then head over to the Everglades National Park.

Well-known as one of the most beautiful and unique places on Earth, you won’t be disappointed with the Florida Everglades. Especially as it’s teeming with marine life including the famous Floridian manatees!

To make things super easy for you, you can book an Everglades Adventure Tour which includes a hotel pickup and drop off in Fort Lauderdale.

During the Everglades Tour, they will take you to all the best spots including the famous Ten Thousand Islands which is the 2nd largest mangrove forest in the world.

Ten Thousand Islands is a labyrinth of water and mangroves and is home to a wide range of animals including manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and more.

Did you know you can also see manatees in Miami?

Las Olas Isles

Another place in Fort Lauderdale where you can often see manatees is along Las Olas Isles. 

Las Olas Isles is a neighborhood that sits along the water. You’ll find tons of waterfront homes with boat docks here.

To see manatees you’ll need to get out onto the water. One of the most fun things to do in Las Olas Isles is stand-up paddleboarding.

Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, your experienced guide will show you how. 

During the stand-up paddleboarding tour, they will take you along the canals searching for marine life.

If you’re lucky you might spot a manatee swimming around, searching for something to eat.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Another great place for manatee viewing in Fort Lauderdale is at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.

Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Central Park’ is an oasis for relaxation and exciting activities. There’s tons of things to do here including cycling, fishing, swimming, roller blading, hiking, camping, snorkeling and more.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a great place to hangout and see some nature. You can often see groups of manatees swimming along the seawall.

Miami Seaquarium

You can also see manatees in captivity at the nearby Miami Seaquarium which is just a 35 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale. 

The Miami Seaquarium is a 38-acre oceanarium located in Biscayne Bay on the island of Virginia Key. 

They have a wide range of animals in the aquarium including manatees, penguins, dolphins, seals and more. 

Their manatee exhibit teaches guests all about the manatees and how we can try to save them. They are a featured part of the rescue and rehabilitation program at the seaquarium.

Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm 

Best Time Of Year To See Manatees In Fort Lauderdale

The best time to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale is between April and October.

The manatees which live in Fort Lauderdale only breed in warm waters. From April to October, the water is warm so the manatees eat, sleep, socialize and hang around in the toasty waters of Fort Lauderdale.

During the winter months it gets too cold for them in Fort Lauderdale so they migrate further south to places like Key West. 

In fact, the manatees would die in water that is colder than 60 degrees so they wouldn’t survive in Fort Lauderdale during the winter.

If you want to see manatees in the winter then head over to Key West, I have a guide on the best places to see manatees in Key West.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To See Manatees In Fort Lauderdale?

You can see manatees at any time of day in Fort Lauderdale.

The manatees spend about half of their day eating and half sleeping. You’ll often spot them throughout the day when they’re looking for food.

The best time of day to see manatees is in the early morning. In the morning, manatees often move around in groups and are very playful. You can often see them eating and playing.

Manatee Spotting Tips

Manatees are an endangered species so it’s important that we do all we can to protect them.

Unfortunately manatee numbers are declining. This is due to a variety of factors including habitat loss, collisions with boats, entanglement in fishing gear and climate change.

It is actually illegal to touch or feed the manatees in Florida so to make sure you are keeping them safe, follow these simple tips:

  • Don’t feed the manatees.
  • Don’t touch the manatees.
  • Try not to be too loud as this could startle them.
  • Don’t get too close. Give them enough space to move.
  • If you are in a boat or on a jet ski, stay a safe distance so the manatees do not get injured.

These simple guidelines help keep both you and the manatees safe.

Can You Swim With Manatees In Fort Lauderdale?

Unfortunately, you are not able to swim with manatees in Fort Lauderdale.

Don’t worry though you can take part in lots of other fun activities involving the manatees including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and boat trips.

This rule is designed to protect the manatees and luckily it doesn’t stop you seeing them out in the wild.

Fun Manatee Facts

To get you prepared for your trip to Fort Lauderdale where you’ll hopefully see some beautiful manatees, here’s some fun manatee facts.

  • According to a legend, sailors once mistook manatees for mermaids.
  • A manatee can only swim up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Adult manatees generally weigh around 1,000 pounds.
  • Adult females tend to be larger than males.
  • They swim so slowly through the water that algae can actually grow on them.
  • They have fingernails on their fins.
  • The oldest known manatee lived to be 65 years old.
  • Manatees tend to live into their fifties.
  • Manatees are almost exclusively herbivores. 
  • If they lose a tooth, it will regrow. 
  • Manatees eat up to 150 lbs of plants each day.

Remember that manatees are super friendly so if you happen to bump into one whilst in Fort Lauderdale then don’t be afraid.

Thanks for reading this post on where to see manatees in Fort Lauderdale. 

You should now have all the information you need to get out there and spot some manatees!

Why not use these fun Florida Instagram captions, puns & quotes for any photos you post to Instagram from your stay in Fort Lauderdale?

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