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Where To See Manatees In Sarasota – Complete Guide

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

Are There Manatees In Sarasota?

You have a great chance of seeing manatees in Sarasota. 

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 Sarasota in the shallower waters of the beach or in the canals and creeks. 

You can often see them poking their heads out of the water in several spots across Sarasota.

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 Sarasota?

Best Places To See Manatees In Sarasota

There are many different places in Sarasota where you can see manatees out in the wild. Below I’ve summarized the best spots where you’ll have a high chance of seeing a manatee. 

The most popular way to see manatees in Sarasota 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 Sarasota however the tour below is the best rated:

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

Lido Key

The best place in Sarasota to see manatees is at Lido Key.

Lido Key is a beautiful barrier island home to one of Florida’s most scenic and pristine beaches. 

To explore Lido Key and see the manatees up close, join a kayaking tour. This will increase your chances of spotting both manatees and dolphins in Lido Key, Sarasota.

Kayaking is the most ideal way to see manatees as they are non-motorized so they won’t scare away the manatees. 

If you choose to join a kayaking tour, your guide will take you around Lido Key and into the mangrove forests. As well as manatees, you’ll see dolphins, birds, rays, crabs, fish and more.

Alternatively, you could try a stand-up paddleboarding tour around Lido Key. These are a super popular and fun way to explore the area.

Lido Key is incredibly scenic. Whilst paddling around with the manatees, you’ll have a backdrop of white powdery beaches and bright turquoise waters.

Look how close you can get to the manatees in Lido Key whilst on a kayak in the video below:

Did you know you can also see manatees in Fort Lauderdale?

Siesta Key

Another great place where you can see manatees in Sarasota is at Siesta Key.

Siesta Key is another scenic barrier island, located just off the coast of Sarasota. There are plenty of spacious, pristine beaches, coral reefs and more in the area.

The best way to explore Siesta Key is by joining a kayak tour. You’ll struggle to see manatees unless you get out into the water itself.

The best spot in Siesta Key to see manatees is at the Jim Neville Marine Preserve. This area is home to manatees, dolphins, birds and even sometimes sea turtles. 

You’ll have the chance to get super up close and personal with the manatees if you’re in a kayak or on a paddleboard. You literally can’t get any closer!

If you’re not keen on getting wet then you can also join a private boat tour where your personal guide will take you out into the water and show you the area. 

Expect to see manatees coming up for air, dolphins playing in the bay and tons of other wildlife like fish, herons, osprey and more.

You’ll get a great view of the marine life from the boat but you won’t be able to get as close to the manatees as you would if you joined a kayak tour

This is because the boat can harm the manatees if it gets too close so it has to maintain some distance.

Look how close you can get to the manatees in Siesta Key in the video below:

Did you know you can also see manatees in Marco Island?

Longboat Key

Another place in Sarasota where you can see manatees is at Longboat Key.

Longboat Key is another barrier island that lies just off the coast of Sarasota. This island features 12 miles of white sandy beaches and tons of luxury resorts.

The best way to explore Longboat Key and spot manatees is by renting a kayak. Alternatively you could rent a stand-up paddleboard if you prefer. 

Kayaking is a super popular activity in Sarasota so I’d suggest booking in advance to ensure they still have availability.

Nothing beats being out in the water and coming face to face with a manatee. They move super slowly (their top speed is 15mph) and often you’ll see their noses popping out of the water as they come up for air.

Manatees are super friendly and only eat vegetation so don’t be afraid! I have more manatee spotting tips below.

Phillippi Creek

Another place where you can see manatees in Sarasota is in Phillippi Creek. 

This 7-mile river, that feeds into Sarasota Bay, is a prime location for spotting manatees due to it’s calm and warm waters.

The best way to explore Phillippi Creek is to rent a kayak. You can slowly paddle through the bendy river, looking out for manatees and other wildlife as you go.

As there is not much boat traffic and noise in the creek, it serves as a safe place for mothers to raise their calves as well as an ideal mating spot.

Mote Marine Aquarium

If you’re not keen on getting out into the water, you can also see manatees at the Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota.

This aquarium aims to educate the public on manatees which are an endangered species including how we can protect them.

They put a huge emphasis on animal rehabilitation. You’ll get the chance to see manatees up close and personal here and you’ll be guaranteed to see a manatee.

At the time of writing, Mote Marine Aquarium has 2 resident manatees called Hugh and Buffett who have been at the aquarium since 1996!

You can see the manatees of Mote Marine Aquarium enjoying some lettuce (their favorite snack) in the video below:

Best Time Of Year To See Manatees In Sarasota

The best time to see manatees in Sarasota is between April and November.

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

During the winter months it gets too cold for them in Sarasota 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 Sarasota 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 Sarasota?

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

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 Sarasota?

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

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 Sarasota 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 Sarasota then don’t be afraid.

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

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 Sarasota?

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