I have to admit that I had been a bit of a pain with my boyfriend begging him to come here (making a big detour) to see the manatees but I really wanted to see them. I had a brief and unintentional encounter in Belize, near Caye Caulkner island, but at that time I was so excited for all the other marine life that I had seen on that day that I didn’t realize I had just met a beautiful example of an endangered specie. The Florida manatee is the largest of all living sirenians. Sadly, they have been hunted for hundreds of years (and still are, in some part of the world); vessels pose a huge threat to this specie as well and boaters are always reminded to exercise extreme caution (you will see plenty of signs in any marina). Since 1966 Florida Manatee has been listed as an endangered specie and a big conservation program has ensured that the Florida manatee population (that some thought was going to be extinct) accounts now for around 6,000.
Wakulla Spring State Park is an astonishing State Park in Florida, not far from Tallahassee. The flowing Spanish Moss gives drama to an unforgettable kind of Gothic scenario. For as little as 8$ (on top of the entrance park fee), you get on a boat that takes you slowly and quietly down the river Wakulla where plenty of gators, turtles and amazing bird species (including bald eagle, herons and egrets) live, and of course, manatees. As with all American tours, a friendly chap will give you a good introduction of the area and point you all the variety of animals that you will encounter during your tour.
The park gets very busy during spring/summer with a lot of visitors enjoying the spring waters. I visited the park in January 2015 (too cold to swim in the spring) and we saw several manatees during our boat tour. You can spot manatees all year round on Florida coastlines but during the winter months manatees head for warmer waters, such as springs and shallow rivers so you know where to go if you want to see them.
I visited the Everglades on 2 occasions and I was disappointed twice. Hundreds of tourist on dozens of buses driving down to Miami, boarding a noisy airboat and then quickly back on the bus. Wakulla Spring is completely different and well worth the detour. If travelling with kids, they would love it too!