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Where To See Manatees In Miami – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to see manatees in Miami 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 Miami and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out. 

Where To See Manatees In Miami

You have a great chance of seeing manatees in Miami. 

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 often be spotted in Miami in the shallower waters of the beaches or in the canals and creeks. 

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

The best place, where you are almost guaranteed to see manatees, is at Virginia Key.

My favorite way to see manatees at Virginia Key is to hire a kayak or paddleboard as this gives you the chance to get up close to the manatees and it’s the least disturbing way to see them.

If you don’t want to get wet, then you can join this private sailing tour around Biscayne Bay and spot the manatees from the boat.

Below I’ve summarized the best spots where you’ll have a high chance of seeing a manatee and I’ve also included handy links to the best rated tours.

So where can you see manatees in Miami?

1. Virginia Key

The best place to see manatees in Miami is at Virginia Key.

Virginia Key is an 863-acre island located in Biscayne Bay. You can easily access it from the mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway.

To explore the key you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard. This is one of my favorite activities and is the best way to see the manatees up close.

It is the closest thing to being able to swim with manatees in Miami and you’ll often find dozens of manatees swimming around your kayak or paddleboard.

As you glide around the creek, you’ll be able to spot manatees, iguanas, pelicans and sea birds. 

It’s so calm here and the water is super clear making it easy to see the manatees.

I’d recommend booking your kayak/paddleboard rental beforehand to ensure you can get straight out onto the water and not spend ages waiting in line when you get there.

💡Tip: Bring a waterproof camera like the GoPro Hero 10 to get some photos and videos of you with the manatees.

Check out the sort of sights you can expect whilst kayaking at Virginia Key in the video below:

2. Are There Manatees in Biscayne Bay?

Yes, there are manatees in Biscayne Bay.

Manatees, as well as dolphins, are frequently spotted in Biscayne Bay. 

Biscayne Bay is a very large lagoon that extends most of the length of the Miami area. 

If you want to see manatees in Biscayne Bay then I’d recommend booking onto this private sailing tour just for you and your party.

The tour takes you on a cruise along the coastline where you’ll visit sandbars, mangroves and small islets along the way. 

You’ll be able to look out for manatees and dolphins as you sail and the trip also includes an optional swimming and snorkeling experience.

For something a bit more adventurous, you can join this jet skiing tour around Biscayne Bay.

Not only is jet skiing super fun (it’s one of my favorite activities), it also gives you a great chance to look out for local wildlife like manatees.

Remember not to get too close with your jet ski to avoid injuring the manatee.

You can also hire a kayak and explore the bay yourself and at your own pace.

The best place to see manatees in Biscayne Bay is in the harbor just north of the Visitor’s Center. 

Summary of options:

3. Waterways of Coral Gables

If you don’t want to get wet then another great place where you can see manatees in Miami is in the waterways of Coral Gables.

Head up to the bridges that pass over the waterways within Coral Gables. These waterways pass through several residential areas as well as the University of Miami.

Manatees often come into these waterways to seek refuge in the warm waters when it is colder. 

It’s not guaranteed that you’ll see manatees here but sightings are frequent. You have the best chance of seeing them here when the days are cooler.

Check out the video below to see some of the manatees in the waterways of Coral Gables:

Did you know you can also see manatees in Sarasota?

4. Black Point Marina

Another place where you can often see manatees in Miami is at Black Point Park & Marina which is located close to Biscayne National Park.

The marina is nestled in a mangrove preserve directly on Biscayne Bay so it’s an ideal spot for manatees. 

Look out for the manatees poking their noses out of the water. They usually do this every 2 to 5 minutes but can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes so be patient.

The best spot to see manatees here is in the canal that leads from Black Point Marina to Biscayne Bay.

There’s lots to do at Black Point Marina including exploring the nature trails, fishing, canoeing and sandbar hopping.

Check out the family of manatees spotted at Black Point Marina in the video below:

5. Manatee Bend Park

Another place where you can see manatees in Miami is at Manatee Bend Park which sits on the banks of Little River towards the northeast side of the city, along the shore of Biscayne Bay.

This park sits just where the Little River bends and it is at this point where you can often find hordes of manatees hanging out.

The park provides an open green space with lots of grass areas and trees. You can take a walk along the trail which runs by the river edge to get a good view of the manatees.

6. Oleta River State Park

Another place with frequent sightings of manatees is at Oleta River State Park.

This 1,043-acre state park sits on Biscayne Bay in northern Miami and is actually Florida’s largest urban park. 

At Oleta River State Park you can hire kayaks, paddleboards and canoes from the outdoor center.

Head out onto the water and keep your eyes peeled for manatees in this protected river estuary covered in tangled mangroves.

Manatees love hanging out in this park due to the warm waters which run into Biscayne Bay.

Find out where to see manatees in Marco Island.

Best Time Of Year To See Manatees In Miami

The best time of year to see manatees in Miami is from November to March.

Whilst you can sometimes see manatees at any time of year, the best time to see manatees is during the winter months

During the winter, water temperatures drop so manatees migrate south to Miami to stay in the warmer waters during the winter months from November to March.

The West Indian species of manatee, which lives in Miami, only breeds in warm waters. In fact, they die in water colder than 60 degrees so they wouldn’t survive in the winter further north.

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

You can see manatees at any time of day in Miami.

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.

Where Can I Swim With Manatees in Miami?

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

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.

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.

Fun Manatee Facts

To get you prepared for your trip to Miami 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 Miami then don’t be afraid.

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

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

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

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