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Day 8 Tour Of Florida With Kids Naples

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best manatee tour naples

Pete and Ashley visited a new CrossFit box this morning. They really enjoy the different workouts and equipment that each Box has and meeting new people. I love hearing about it all when they get back. We get a lot of our travel tips this way too. We normally plan way ahead of time what we are going to do in each area we visit, but this time we decided to go with the flow and see what happens. We have all been on the go for weeks now, so we thought relaxing at Naples Bay Resort sounded like a great plan because this resort lends itself to peacefulness and relaxation. I envisioned coffee on the patio/balcony and a leisurely morning of work from my laptop. 

Pete had other ideas. He knows that seeing animals in their natural habitats is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve played many roles in my life, and aside from my one as part of this family, being a zoo keeper was my favorite. I learned so much and it just instilled a greater love of animals in my heart. So when Pete said he booked us on a Manatee tour I practically squealed. I’m quite civilized in life until you start throwing around words like “manatee, alligator, and dolphin”.  

manatee how to see near naples fl

We drove for about a half hour to Port of Islands Marina where we took a tour with Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tourism Adventure. 

boat ride

Emmy took the tour very seriously. She studied the flier with all the birds and wildlife listed.


We learned about Mangroves and the role they play… plus that Alligators hang out in them!

manatee boat tour

Our tour guide Andrew, and his son Andrew Jr. were both leading tours and Andrew found a couple Manatees pretty quickly so we headed over to see them. Andrew Sr. had taken us over to see if he could spot some Bald Eagles first after Emmy had asked about them.

manatee tracks

We learned how to spot them with these footprints in the water.

how to see manatees

And then we started to see them rising to the top. They looked like huge brown blobs at this point. All of a sudden a nose appeared! 

manatee nose

These Manatees were a bit shy so we moved on. Captain Andrew makes the Manatees safety and comfort the priority while still trying to give us the best views. Since these guys were not wanting to be seen we decided to go farther down the waterway to see what we could see.



So happy we did because seconds later a mommy and baby dolphin popped up and played with us for a bit!

kids on manatee tour

The girls had so much fun! I took this picture of Ashley right before she said she could see something in the water near us…


And these faces all popped up. There was a mommy and baby manatee on one side and three more manatees on the other side…

up close manatees

Look how close they came to our boat! It was like they wanted to see what was happening up here. Captain had already turned the engine off and these guys just kept circling our boat. It was so amazing and something we will never forget!

learning about manatees

Our hour and a half tour was coming to a close and Captain Andrew gave the girls a very good science and animal husbandry lesson as we drove back. The only thing we didn’t see that we really wanted to was alligators, but we had seen so many other things and this was a manatee tour after all, that we were still on cloud nine from the experience! Captain said that the mornings when the water was lower is the best alligator viewing time so we decided we would look for them another day. 


As we were pulling into our dock, Captain Andrew pointed off the side of the boat and this guy was waiting for us. I still can’t believe it! What a perfect tour! Looking back I was pretty proud of myself for not freaking out too much knowing that there were sharks, alligators and crocodiles in the waters.

5th ave naples fl

Back in Naples we strolled and had dinner on 5th Ave of downtown Naples. The streets here are beautiful!

naples bay resort

The sun didn’t set until after 8 pm so we enjoyed the evening and then relaxed back in our suite at Naples Bay Resort.

Here is our day 8 video:

What is the most exotic wildlife you have seen?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • This looks like a fun outing. I bet it was really neat seeing the manatees. I ran into some one time when I was snorkeling down the Crystal River,

  • I am a South Florida native (Miami) who lived in Tampa Bay for 8 years as well. I love Naples – you did an awesome job showcasing all it has to offer. My husband has never been and I can’t wait to get him down there. He’ll never want to leave LOL!

  • Mangrove colonies are amazing. My cousin was living in Thailand when the tsunami hit. They would have lost their house if it weren’t for the mangroves.

  • You remind me of why Iove Florida! I know it gets hot in the summer, but we have spend time there the last three summers and I want more!

  • I don’t know why, but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit Florida. Being raised in a land-locked state, the allure of the ocean calls to me. And let’s face it, I want to see a manatee, even if it’s being shy. 🙂

  • I have actually been to Naples, but not on this tour! I need to take my kiddo on this! I have been on 5th ave! It all looked so familiar!

  • I’ve never been to Naples although I have family there I need to visit. When I do visit, I need to take this tour!

  • I’ve lived your unique perspective of these not so well known Florida spots. Thank You so very much!

  • This looks like such a fun adventure! I have never been on a boat before like this! I guess I am missing out on tons of travel experiences!

  • That tour looks like SO MUCH FUN! I think it’s so cool that the dolphins and manatees came so close to you and with babies too. I really enjoy wildlife tours.

  • Oh my goodness, I have never been on a manatee tour… actually, I don’t think I have ever seen a manatee at all… LOL! I had no idea you were a zoo keeper once. That is so cool. Thanks for sharing with us

  • How cool is this tour?! I would love to be able to go on one of these one day! I have only been to Florida once but would love to go back.

  • That looks like so much fun. I think wildlife is amazing! That’s one of my favorite things to do is look at wildlife. My girls enjoy it as well.

  • Lions and Tigers at the zoo are probably the most exotic animals i have see. I love your video. It looks like everyone had a ton of fun.

  • What an amazing experience. I too love seeing animals in their natural habitats. I would love to get that close to manatees!

  • I love a good manatee sighting! Sounds like you had a great adventure. I love seeing animals in their natural setting also.

  • Wow! That must have been a blast, especially since you had the kids with you as well. I love how their faces light up every time they spot an animal they’ve never seen up close. This is definitely a must try for all families vacationing in Naples!

  • That must have been very exciting! I would love to see manatees up close, but I’d do away with alligators. I am totally freaked out even at the sight of them. I take it from your pics that your girls did have so much fun at Naples!

  • What a wonderful experience! I’ve seen crocodiles and alligators at a gator park in Myrtle Beach… there were lots of them and watching them feed was pretty crazy and gross. 🙂 I did notice how you said you weren’t freaking out “too much” knowing there were sharks, alligators and crocodiles in the water. 🙂

  • Oh what fun. I would love to visit Florida at some point, and I think my kids would LOVE to do something like this. Seeing a manatee in their natural habitat is something I cannot wait for my kids to see among all the other sea life we’ve never got to see up here in Canada!

  • Awesome, I love the video! We did a boat tour in Florida once, but we didn’t see any animals — besides the black spider crabs that decided to jump in my hair! I love that you got to see the crocs and the manatees!

  • If I could financially afford to give up everything and travel the world watching animals in their habitats, I would do it in a heart beat. I’ve always been intrigued by manatees and watching them would be awesome!

  • You’re making me miss my summer playground. I spent all of my childhood summers in FLA and haven’t been back in a few years. Thanks for sharing your tour with us. It looks like it was just perfect in every way. I’ve never seen a Manatee before.

  • What an awesome day. I have seen manatees in the wild and they are spectacular.

  • I have driven through Naples tons of times but never stopped to wander the area. Looks like a great spot. Love dolphins, we usually see them when we are out in and near the waters.

  • This looks like a great tour. I would love the nature parts of the tour, the outdoors in my thing!

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