Desperate sailors of old oft mistook manatees for smoking-hot mermaids, which is easy to understand once you've glimpsed these gentle sea giants in six-inch pink flipper pumps. See for yourself with today's Groupon: for $25, you get a touch-and-swim manatee tour (a $35 value) plus the necessary wet suit and snorkel (a $20 value) from Native Vacations (a $55 total value). Native Vacations' goal is to allow you to experience Florida's natural splendor in an environment that's intimate, immediate, and unmitigated by tourist crowds. Each tour requires a minimum of two people (maximum of six per outing), so tell your friends about today's Groupon to form your own manatee swim club.
You'll shove off for your three-hour tour at 8 a.m. from Native's Crystal River marina and ply the shallow, dangerously inviting water of Kings Bay in search of easily apprehended fun. As you drive deeper into this Heart of Cuteness, Captain Traci will spout out facts about manatees and their habitat, answering any and all questions. Once she spots a particularly snuggly herd of seacows, you'll slip into the water and sidle up to these 13-foot, 2,000-pound critters, photographing them, and seagossiping with them over a nice tender clump of seagrass. If the manatees happen to be particularly secretive on the day of your tour, your time on the water may be extended so that you'll have enough time to get acquainted with the beasts.
Because manatees are a threatened species, you'll have to sit down to a short film prior to disembarking that will fill you in on proper respect and manatetiquette. You'll also a receive a voucher good for a 10% discount on a nearby Cuban restaurant, Cravings on the Water, that allows you to help save the manatees by binging on shrimp, their chief natural predator.
Call to make a reservation (spots are subject to availability, with weekends being particularly busy). This Groupon is not valid on holidays. Though manatees have a year-round presence in Kings Bay, many leave for vacation during the spring and summer months.
TripAdvisors give Native Vacations a solid five-star average. Here's what they're saying:
- We saw this gentle creature in clear sun dappled water rest on the bottom. When he / she came up, she went face to face with my daughter. It was an amazing experience that she will never forget. – ruthk191
- We went into Three Sisters Springs, which is absolutely beautiful. We saw several manatees, including a mother and a calf. It was our BEST DAY during our week in Florida… – Williamfaith
- There are not words to describe how fun and exciting it is to swim with the Manatees. – dkorwood
The Native Vacations crew constantly views their surroundings with the eyes of explorers. They see opportunity on any terrain, and they search for adventure while aiming to preserve the landscape. On land, the crew coordinates horseback-riding tours that wind through the Withlacoochee Forest. As hooves beat a lazy drumroll in the dappled sunlight, riders watch deer and sherman fox pups as they dart between trees. In the waterways, Native Vacations leads kayaking tours, airboat rides, and snorkeling adventures. Kayak paddles leisurely stir waters populated by dolphins while bald eagles slip through the warm air, and airboats tear across the surface of the Crystal River with the metallic purring of RoboCop drinking warm milk. In the waters of King's Bay, guides teach snorkelers the basics of breathing underwater and allow them to pet any of the elephant-gray mammoths that approach.