2615
Florida
Manatee Swims, Dolphin Encounters and Other Marine Wonders
Get to know Florida like an insider as you kayak through mangroves, speak with a local author, learn about marine life and swim with manatees in the calm waters of Crystal River.
Rating (5)
Program No. 2615RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,499
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
7 days
6 nights
18 meals
6 B 6 L 6 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Ft. Myers/Estero
D
Four Points by Sheraton Fort Myers Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation: At 5:00 p.m., we will gather in our reserved room at the hotel and the Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. All transportation will be via private vans unless specified otherwise. Scheduled free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal, plus coffee, iced tea, soft drinks, water.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Manatee Park, Manatee Myths & Facts, Free Time
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Four Points by Sheraton Fort Myers Airport

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet, plus coffee, juices, water.

Morning: Our first day begins with a field trip via van to Manatee Park, where we will be led by a park expert. Located along the Orange River, the park encompasses where warmed water from power plants upriver creates an ideal environment for manatees. With an expert, explore the habitat and learn all about the manatee at the amphitheater.

Lunch: At the park, enjoy a picnic style lunch, plus iced tea, juice.

Afternoon: With our park expert, separate myths and facts about manatees, Florida’s state marine mammal. Nicknamed the sea cow, manatees are known for their slow, graceful movement as they peak their nose and whiskers above the waters surface. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at Manatee Park to enjoy the facilities.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal, plus soft drinks, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Dolphin Watching, Koreshan State Park, Lecture, Short Hike
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Four Points by Sheraton Fort Myers Airport

Activity note: Walk up to 1/2 mile on uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Ride to the Estero Bay for cruise in pursuit of dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife. With a marine biologist, learn about the diverse ecosystems and some of the local marine life such as sea urchins, sea horses, conchs, brittle stars, and more.

Lunch: Picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Guided Exploration of Koreshan Park. The Estero River flows through the park into Estero Bay. On its banks, the remains of this unusual pioneer settlement are being preserved. Portions of the grounds have been restored to their appearance during the early years of the 20th century. Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic District has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal, plus iced tea, soft drinks, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Mote Research Center, To Crystal River
Crystal River,FL
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Express Crystal River

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:30 a.m. Drive approximately 100 miles to Mote Marine Laboratory; approximately 216 miles to Crystal River. Various rest stops along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and ride to Mote Marine Laboratory for a morning filled with sharks. you can explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory. Florida is home to nurse sharks, bull sharks, blacktips, and sandbar sharks, among others. Get up close — safely! — at Mote’s 135,000-gallon shark habitat. This exhibit is also home to the world’s largest grouper species, the Goliath grouper (a cousin to Florida’s favorite seafood dish) and some of the world’s most exciting sport fish: tarpon, snook, and redfish.

Lunch: At the aquarium, enjoy a picnic lunch plus iced tea, juice, water.

Afternoon: We will continue north for the second half of our program to Crystal River and the surrounding Kings Bay. Located in the heart of Florida’s Nature Coast, the water around Crystal River is fed by dozens of springs and maintains a constant temperature of 72°F year round. Kings Bay is the only place in the United States where visitors can legally interact with manatees. In the late afternoon, arrive and check into the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal, plus coffee, soft drink, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Kayak Chazzowitzka River, Whooping Crane Lecture
Crystal River,FL
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Express Crystal River

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a buffet, plus coffee, juice, water.

Morning: Set out for a kayaking field trip on the Chazzowitzka River with a local naturalist. While learning about the area’s habitat, keep your eyes peeled for manatees and the wide variety of bids that call the area home.

Lunch: Picnic lunch.

Afternoon: At the Chazzowitzka National Wildlife Refuge with a local naturalist, we will learn about the whooping crane migration project. An endangered species, it is one of two crane species found in North America that came close to extinction by the 1940’s, before conservation efforts were put into place to save the birds. Today, there are less than 500 whooping cranes in the wild.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have a buffet, plus soft drink, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Snorkel With Manatees, Homosassa State Park & Wildlife
Crystal River,FL
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Express Crystal River

Activity note: Wet suit, snorkel, fin and mask are included.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Meeting in the hotel lobby at 7:00 a.m., we will have a short ride to Manatee Swim Snorkel. We will be fitting with snorkel equipment and wetsuits before boarding the boat and setting out for swim with manatees led by our Group Leader. We will ride to two or three sites that have been selected for the best possible opportunities to interact with the manatees in the water. Homosassa and Crystal River support a year round population of Florida manatees thanks to the warm waters and protection of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The waters around the wildlife refuge are home to the largest herds or wintering manatees enjoying their natural protection.

Lunch: Picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Visit Homosassa Springs State Park and Wildlife Center for an opportunity to view many of Florida’s native wildlife with a certified Florida Master Naturalist. The 50 acre park offers manatee feeding plus views of a number of native species including black bears, American alligators, and Florida panthers. The park is also a prime birding destination, offering a chance to see and photograph species including roseate spoonbills, flamingoes, wood storks, and more in their natural surroundings.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have a plated farewell dinner, plus coffee, soft drink.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
To Ft. Myers, Lettuce Park Hike, Program Concludes
Crystal River,FL
B,L

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:30 a.m. Ride is approximately 71 miles.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant, enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of hot and cold items, plus coffee, juice.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and begin our journey to Ft. Myers as we take the scenic route. Stopping outside of Tampa, we will enjoy a short hike at Lettuce Park for an opportunity to stretch your legs. The park is home to a variety of native flora and fauna and an extensive boardwalk for prime viewing opportunities. You may even see an alligator or two.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy a buffet meal plus coffee, iced tea, soft drinks.

Afternoon: Participants will be dropped off at Ft. Myers airport. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!