Enter. Win. Swim: Sign up to enter our Swim With the Manatees giveaway

We’ve partnered with Plantation on Crystal River to offer up to four guests a two-night stay, a dinner at West 82 Bar & Grill and a snorkeling trip to swim with Crystal River’s wintering manatees.

Florida’s eco-friendly Plantation on Crystal River features a full-service marina, 18-hole golf course, 9-hole executive course, Aveda spa, remarkable dining and inviting accommodations. [Plantation on Crystal River photo]
Florida’s eco-friendly Plantation on Crystal River features a full-service marina, 18-hole golf course, 9-hole executive course, Aveda spa, remarkable dining and inviting accommodations. [Plantation on Crystal River photo]

Winter temps usually mean most people want to keep out of the water, but that’s hardly the case when you can share that water up close and personal with hundreds of manatees!

Every winter, manatees flock to springs and power plant outflows across the state to avoid the severe temperature dips in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. As many as 400 West Indian manatees (or more!) migrate to the Kings Bay estuary in Crystal River to enjoy the stable water temperatures of the Three Sisters Springs.

But Crystal River is the only place in Florida where the federal government allows “passive observation” of these marine mammals. That means you can get in the water and swim with the manatees yourself — here and no place else!

To celebrate this unique Sunshine State opportunity, Florida Beach Insider has partnered with Plantation on Crystal River to give away a FREE two-night hotel stay for up to four people, including dinner at West 82 Bar & Grill and A CHANCE TO SWIM WITH MANATEES! That's right, just enter, win and swim!

ENTER THE DRAWING

BY CLICKING HERE

Plantation on Crystal River is a 232-acre, eco-friendly resort with full-service spa surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay. West 82 is the hotel’s on-site restaurant, featuring a wide variety of seafood, desserts, cocktails and more.

The main event, of course, will be an excursion to the estuary to put on a wetsuit and snorkel and swim with those manatees. All gear and instruction, plus the boat ride to the springs, is included! Live the experience of a lifetime by sharing space with these gentle giants, and learn more about the risks the species faces.

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Snorkel with manatees, scallop, relax and unwind at the Plantation on Crystal River, a natural gem tucked along Florida’s Nature Coast. [Plantation on Crystal River photo]

I’ve done one of these excursions before, friends and neighbors, and let me tell you, it’s a truly unique experience. Communing with these sea creatures is a rare and exciting feat for any animal- or water-loving adventurer, regardless of snorkeling experience. (You can even stay on the boat to watch the manatees, should you prefer keeping high and dry.)

READ MORE: Here’s a list of places where you can spot wintering manatees in Florida.

All you have to do to enter is click here and follow the instructions. We’ll only ask you for a little information. No purchase necessary. Visit floridabeachinsider.com/contest for official rules.

Enter now, because the deadline for signing up for our random drawing ends on Jan. 7, 2019.

HAVE YOU ENTERED YET?

IF NOT, CLICK HERE

You’ll be able to use your trip to Plantation on Crystal River for up to one year, based on availability, but we suggest acting fast: Just like Florida’s surfers and sunbathers, the manatees move along once the water warms up.

Sign up for Florida Beach Insider’s Swim With the Manatees giveaway today!

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Joshua Gillin is Florida Beach Insider’s Beachcomber-in-chief. When he’s not actively looking for a clear spot on the sand with his family, he enjoys hiking, martials arts, comparing drink specials and shopping for American-made products.