Throughout history tales of beautiful women bathing in the shallows and shapely figures passing below docking vessels have evolved into tales of mermaids and sirens luring ships into shallow waters. Now these ancient tales, entertaining though they were, have been mostly put down to sightings of our cute and curvaceous friend the Manatee lurking in the not-so-depths.

Now I say cute, in the same way a pug is cute, not in the ‘’Yarr full sail ahead check out that voluptuous Manatee’’ cute. That being said voluptuous may be the right word, weighing up to 590 kilos and anywhere under four meters long, the manatee is a lump… but like the sailors of old used to say ‘’Whatever floats your boat’’ of in this case, sinks it.

Now it’s not the manatees fault it’s so beautiful, as it’s not to blame for being so alluring basking in shallow waters as the Manatee is most comfortable in a mix of fresh and salt waters they are most commonly found near the mouth of rivers as they enter the sea, or combing their long golden locks atop rocky pinnacles. Oh? Sorry about that, I’ve been reading too many nautical adventures.

So to put a rather odd tangent back on course, let me present to you my top spots for swimming with the rare and beautiful Manatee

Playa Del Carmen – Mexico

Manatee Kisses

A well-known hot-spot for large aquatic sightings, Playa Del Carmen sits on that perfect point between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, offering perfect conditions for our gentle and gigantic friend to eat sea grass and do very little else.

Manatee Springs – Florida


The crystal clear Manatee Spring pumps out over 100 million gallons of water in a year. This is a great spot for those who want to swim with manatees without taking a boat trip to get there. Divers and snorkelers are welcome

Citrus County – Florida


Sure Florida holds a few of our top manatee viewing spots because, well, that’s where all the manatees are. Edging the Gulf and feeding the sea with many fresh water rivers leaving Citrus County’s many lakes, it’s not hard to see why they stick around.

Ambergris Caye – Belize


It’s possible to see them all year round but if you visit Ambergris Caye in June to September you’re landing on peak manatee season. For the keen divers information that time is also bang in the middle of Hawksbill Turtle nesting season… the icing on the cake; it’s cloudy with a chance of Whale Sharks!

Okinawa – Japan


Waaaay away from the manatee hot-spot of the Gulf of Mexico, Okinawa doesn’t have a specific manatee season but a chance to swim with our harmless friends year round! Okinawa is also home to a good number of Manta rays and Humpback Whales spend their winters off shore.

By Jack Van Toorn