With room for kayaking, picnicking and viewing manatees in a natural environment, Manatee Park proves itself to be a true hidden jewel in Fort Myers. The unique water refuge and park is considered one of the best places in the entire state to see manatees up close, and often in large numbers.
Although the park is open to visitors all months of the year, the very best time to spot manatees is during the winter, especially during late December through February. Usually they don’t hang around much during the summer season.
Mostly the manatees enjoy the park when the Gulf temperature dips down below 68 degrees. They’re attracted to the location by the warm water released from the nearby Florida Power and Light power plant.
Compared to the Gulf water in the winter months, the water near the park certainly proves to be much more appealing. The morning tends to be a better time for viewing before the manatees head out looking for food.
There are several places in the park to get a closer look, including one particular area where you can see down into the water and sometimes hear the manatees. You can also choose to head out on the water in your kayak or canoe, or even rent one on-site. Be advised, though, the park recommends visitors don’t come into contact with the manatees and that you try not to disturb them.
Amenities in the park range from the canoe and kayak launch to a picnic area and a family-friendly setting. You’ll find some nearby kayak and canoe rentals and customized tours are available. In addition, Manatee Park offers a butterfly garden and some educational programming.
The park is open all year long from dawn until dusk and its free to enter. There is a small fee for parking. The park is located at 10901 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33905, to the west of the Verandah community.