Florida is a state full of incredible nature and wild animals. So what better way to create memories of a lifetime than sharing a few hours out in nature and meeting the local residents? Today I’m going to share with you my favorite animal encounters across Florida, and I hope to inspire you to add one of these unique activities to your next vacation.
Top Places to see wild animals in Florida
One of the most popular animals to swim with in Florida are manatees. These gentle giant creatures offer a unique and astonishing experience as you float above them in the waters of Crystal River. It’s one of the only locations where it’s legal to swim with manatees, but do remember you won’t be able to touch the creatures at any point. With your tour, you will receive snorkelling equipment, and the waters at Crystal River are as clear as their name suggests. I know you may be trying to relax on vacation, but I’d highly recommend a 6 am morning tour, as there will be a lot fewer boats about to detract the creatures. Make sure you book in advance as these tours are extremely popular! If you aren’t looking to swim with manatees, you can also consider a boat tour, which is offered in Cocoa Beach.
Another classic Florida resident is the alligator, and what better way to see them in their natural habitat than on an airboat ride. The Everglades National Park is the perfect place to take one of these rides, which are a lot of fun regardless of the animals you spot. These boats speed across the marshes, and you’ll experience the real wilderness of the state. Expect to also spot deer, herons or hawks on these rides.
Other great animal encounters in Florida – Dolphins and Giraffes
While giraffes may be available in many of the theme parks and zoos in the state, my favorite place to see them up close is at the Lion Country Safari. Located near Palm Beach, it’s the only drive-through safari in the state, where you get to drive your own vehicle through the site. With over 900 animals on the property, you’ll love this five-mile drive where you’ll spot lions, giraffes and chimpanzees. However, my favorite experience here is the giraffe feeding. It’s a unique experience that will provide lifelong memories for visitors of all ages.
Finally, one of the most anticipated experiences for visitors to Florida is seeing or swimming with dolphins. Personally, I recommend seeing them in their natural habitat, which can be done in Key West. Take a boat tour where you will see dolphins swim alongside your vessel. Key West also offers world-class snorkelling, so try and find a combination tour to experience both activities on one day.
Regardless of what animal you are hoping to see in Florida, you’ll be impressed with the options available to you. Even just strolling around the area you are staying in, you will see creatures unlike those from your home country or town. Another great way to enjoy the nature of Florida is to head out on a half- or full-day Cape Coral Fishing Charter. It’s such a relaxing, peaceful way to see another side of Florida, and you’ll enjoy learning more about the species of fish in the local waters. Make sure you factor in some time on your next trip to Florida to escape the beaches and theme parks and see the amazing wildlife the state has to offer.