Florida – Turtles, Alligators & Manatees

by Funhog Family on September 17, 2011

The Famous Manatee

Knowing we had only 3 months when we planned our journey, we decided we would make it to Florida in December when we came back east to attend Jodi’s brother’s wedding. But due to various circumstances we were pushed forward and were able to make it to Florida. Our plan had been to go to Crystal River to swim with the manatees, but since Crystal River was an additional 3 hours south and 3 hours back, we looked for a place closer that might have manatees. We discovered that one of my old favorite swimming holes had manatees of late, and we headed to Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahasee.
Wakulla Springs State Park is a wonderful place that hosts one of the best cave dives in the world. The cave pumps out 500,000 gallons of crystal clear water a minute that maintains a constant 70 degree temperature which the manatees love.
In order to see the manatees we took a Wildlife Boat Tour. We had an awesome boat captain as the kids loved the freedom they were given on the boat. They roamed from side to side watching alligators, turtles, manatees, and numerous types of birds. Tirzah squealed with delight watching the flying mullet, and Elijah almost went overboard trying to touch a soft shell turtle with his nose. It was non-stop wildlife during our 1hr tour.

Underwater Fun

After we finished the tour we decided that Jodi and the kids would take a nap while Kendall and I went for a swim. The water was cold enough to take your breath away upon entry, but you quickly numb up to it. It was great fun watching Kendall jump off the high dive that the grown-ups around here were nervous to do. She would jump off, coaxing other adults to follow her. When naps were over the whole family went for a swim. I thought it was pretty fun that you could actually see an alligator from the swimming area and the only thing that separated us was a lane marker rope. It was also very cool to swim over the top of the cave entrance and look down into the 165ft opening. If we lived closer I am sure we would be going to Wakulla often, and I am also sure I would get my cave diving certification in order to enjoy that whole other world.
Another bonus to our Florida visit was family. While we were there my cousin Chris was gracious enough to invite us to stay with them. Then I also got a chance to visit with my brother, Kevin. Our time ended in Florida too quickly, but I am certain we will one day return.

A Wildlife Boat Ride

The Alligator

A Bird Drying It's Wings

Smile

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