Manatee Park in Fort Myers is a place that demands a visit while you’re on vacation. Located off of Palm Beach Boulevard, this park is a great place for catching sight of the Florida Manatee. You can do more than just watch for manatees here, from fishing to taking a paddleboat out on the water. One of the best parts is just how family-friendly Manatee Park is, complete with playgrounds for kids to enjoy. It’s all just down the road from our condos for rent in Fort Myers Beach, FL!
So, what can you expect from a visit to Manatee Park?
What is it?
Manatee Park is a warm water refuge for non-captive Florida Manatees. These “sea-cows” are a sub-species of the West Indian Manatee and are slow-moving – hence how easy it can be to spot them swimming. Over the past 30 years, their numbers have increased due to strong conservation efforts. Unfortunately, their slowness means they often get struck by passing vessels in many areas – but not in Manatee Park!
What to do there?
The most obvious thing that people like doing in Manatee Park is looking for manatees. This is the best place to see manatees in Fort Myers, Florida. The park itself isn’t large, but you can head onto the walkway and boardwalk to look for manatees when the temperature is in the mid-60s or below. Be sure to bring your camera so you can snap a picture of one of these gentle creatures!
Of course, there is more to do at Manatee Park. Get the kids out of your Fort Myers, Florida rentals, and let them run around on the well-kept playgrounds. The park itself is one of the most exciting things to do in Fort Myers Beach. Even if you see no manatees, you can enjoy a pleasant walk about the park. If you enjoy light hikes, this is definitely the place for it.
The butterfly garden is a stunning addition courtesy of the Florida Friendly Landscaping program.
Manatee Park is also a prime spot for fishing, so bring your rod and reel! Want to get out on the water? Rent a canoe or kayak from the nearby gift shop. Once you’re done fishing, playing, and searching for manatees, you can eat a picnic lunch.
What kind of manatees can I see?
These gray-brown creatures have wrinkly, thick skin on which algae often grows. They like to graze, so they play a huge role in plant growth in areas like Manatee Park. Manatees are mammals, so they do get cold when the weather cools off. They take refuge in both the naturally and artificially created springs, so they like to come here when the weather is cool to keep warm!
The manatees you see here are Florida Manatee (T.m. latirostris), which is a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee. West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus) and are classified as a vulnerable species. Florida Manatees do travel as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as Texas, but they’re most abundant around Florida’s sunny shores.
When is the best time to visit?
Your best chance of seeing them is when the weather is cool. November through March are prime times for manatee viewing in Fort Myers. While looking for things to do in Fort Myers during the winter, seeing the Manatees should be atop your list.
You might see them during other times of the year, but if you’re booking your Fort Myers beach condos with manatee-spotting in mind, the cooler months are the best.
Ready to book your Fort Myers vacation rentals? Check out these cozy Fort Myers beach rentals. Getting from your front door to Manatee Park is quick and easy, so you can make multiple trips to the park to spot some of Florida’s most unique and gentle mammals or visit other attractions like The Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs!