Manatee Park, located in Fort Myers, is a great place to visit when the temperature drops because that is when manatees come to the park in search of warmer water.
Although we really don’t have a winter here in paradise temperatures can get a little cooler during January and February. If it’s in the 50s or low 60s the beach is really not the best bet, especially if it’s windy outside.
Manatee Park is a non-captive refuge for the endangered Florida manatee. When the temperatures of the water in the Gulf of Mexico and the rivers drop below 68F the manatees come in herds to Manatee Park seeking the warm waters generated by the Florida Power and Light discharge canal.
When to Go
The park opens at 8:00m and closes at sunset daily. For optimal viewing go on a cold day and check the Manatee Park website for updates. Mornings are the best time to go. an “All About Manatees” free program is offered at 11am and 2pm each day.
The brackish waters of the canal are pretty dark so even if the manatees are there you really need to wait for them to come closer to the surface or come out to breath to be able to see them. Make sure to bring dark glasses as that will help with the glare on the water and will make seeing them easier. For better pictures consider bringing a polarized lens for your camera to minimize the glare.
Other Things To Do At Manatee Park
Manatee Park has a playground for children as well as pick nick tables and pavilions. You can rent canoes and kayaks to paddle along the rivers and canals. The 17 acre park has lots of winding walkways, boardwalks and trails through different native plants habitats as well as a butterfly garden.
We visited Manatee Park for the first time last year. We didn’t get there until noon and by then the weather had warmed up considerably on that particular day. We got to see only a couple of manatees, among them a mother and baby. It was a wonderful experience. Both my kids loved the manatees and had a wonderful time chasing butterflies, running around in the native plant gardens and learning about different Florida habitats.
After listening to the all “All About Manatees” talk we had a pick nick and the kids had fun playing in the playgrounds. There is one for toddles and one for smaller kids. We are planning to go there again now that the weather is colder and hopefully we will see a big heard of manatees this time.
- For more information and to make reservations for kayak and canoe rentals you can visit the Manatee Park website.
- You can print a Butterflies of Lee County guide HERE.
- You can download a Manatee Park brochure HERE.
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