There is no bad time to visit New Smyrna Beach on vacation, but if you have the longing to see manatees and check it off your travel bucket list, then you’ll need to plan ahead. It is one of the most popular seasons for guests to book their New Smyrna Beach vacation rentals, so don’t wait until the last minute.
One of the most captivating Florida marine wildlife species, second only to the dolphin, are manatees. Large, friendly, and endangered, manatees are plentiful in a few vacation destinations in Florida. New Smyrna Beach is one of them.
Don’t miss out on seeing one of Florida’s most popular marine species. Below is your intuitive guide to exploring New Smyrna Beach on the lookout for these highly protected gentle giants of the sea.
Best Times (and Seasons) to See Manatees
The most common manatee in Florida is the West Indian Manatee. During the summer months leading up to about October, the manatees take advantage of the deep and warm coastal waters and explore the oceans. They may venture as far south as Brazil and as far north as Virginia.
These are not opportune times to see manatees unless you have a boat or yacht and you head out to the Atlantic. The best time to see manatees in Florida is during November to April. During this time, the Atlantic cools and the manatees head to the fresh waterways and interior bodies of Florida water for warmth.
New Smyrna Beach has many manatees during the fall and into winter. They are particularly common in the early mornings where they feed on mangrove leaves, algae, shoal grass, and 60 other species of plant.
Manatee can thrive in fresh, salt, and brackish water. But their numbers are dwindling due to human interference, reckless marine boats, and pollution from homes into the waters.
They are curious animals, which makes them incredible marine companions for equally curious (and responsible) humans.
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
One of the best places to see these curious wonders of the sea is Bethune Beach. The park area is designed to both protect the manatee and give visitors a wonderful place to explore. The park and beach area also offers a few tennis courts, picnic tables, and a playground for kids.
One of the main attractions is, of course, the manatees. They are primarily found holed up in the cove across from the oceanfront park. You won’t miss the area if you head to the coast of the park and listen for the waves crashing into the cove, seemingly pressed into the coast.
It is possible to actually kayak in the area. Simply visit JB’s Fish Camp (859 Pompano Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169) to rent a kayak for the whole family. This family-friendly adventure will take you along the park area and by the cove.
It is important to remember that the manatees are highly protected. It is illegal to touch or feed the manatees. They may be willing to bop their head right up by the kayaks, so be aware of their curiosity (they won’t hurt you) and the laws regarding their protection.
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park is about a 20 minute drive from the main downtown area of New Smyrna Beach. You can easily get to the area from any number of the beachfront New Smyrna Beach vacation homes.
Manatee Protection Zone
There are well over 1,000 acres of marshlands throughout Mary McLeod, with a large portion of it designated as Maximum 30 MPH Manatee Protection. Inquire with the city of New Smyrna Beach for specific details regarding where you are allowed and the protective measures of the manatees at 386-410-2600.
For more information about where you can stay while on your excursion to see manatees in New Smyrna Beach, please contact us (386)-478-7863. Our beachfront New Smyrna Beach vacation condos can act as your definitive entry-point to Florida’s fascinating wildlife.