Manatee Viewing Center

Manatee Viewing Center featuring modern architecture and views

Manatee Viewing Center

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This viewing center is a free-entry wildlife sanctuary where large numbers of manatees congregate in the warm waters of an industrial power plant.

Take the family on an entertaining and educational trip to observe Florida manatees in the wild. The Manatee Viewing Center is situated at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.

A coal-fired industrial plant may seem an unlikely place to experience nature, but manatees are drawn to the warmth of its discharge canal. Saltwater is taken from Tampa Bay to cool down the plant, and when it flows back into the canal, it’s warm and clean.

These bulky marine mammals need water temperatures above 68 F (20 C) to survive. When the Tampa Bay temperature drops during the winter, the animals escape to the safe haven of Big Bend. They were first seen here in large numbers in 1986. So many onlookers turned up to view the animals that the power plant’s owners decided to create the viewing center.

Stand on the observation decks and viewing platforms at the end of the canal. Watch these warm-blooded mammals swim and play in the shadow of giant industrial chimney stacks. The best photo opportunities are when the manatees come to the surface to breathe air through their nostrils. They do so every three to five minutes, so you won’t have to wait too long to get a close-up shot of their faces.

Before your visit, check if there are any manatees in the water by viewing the webcams on the sanctuary’s website.

Walk in the butterfly garden and take the Tidal Walk. This is a short self-guided nature trail through native flora and is a good place for more wildlife spotting. Brown pelicans, cormorants, herons and stingrays are just some of the species that can be seen.

The Manatee Viewing Center is open daily between November and April. On-site amenities include a visitor center with interactive displays about manatees, restrooms, a café and free parking.

Top Hotels Close to Manatee Viewing Center

Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
4 out of 5
901 Silver Palm Way, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
Stay at this 4-star golf villa in Apollo Beach. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and an outdoor pool. Popular attractions Manatee Viewing Center and Cypress Golf ...
Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
4 out of 5
900 Silver Palm Way, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
Stay at this 4-star golf vacation home in Apollo Beach. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and an outdoor pool. Popular attractions Manatee Viewing Center and Cypress ...
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
Adorable Waterfront studio
Adorable Waterfront studio
Apollo Beach, FL
Stay at this vacation home in Apollo Beach. Enjoy an outdoor pool, WiFi, and onsite parking. Popular attractions Manatee Viewing Center and Cypress Golf Club ...
5/5 Exceptional! (1 review)
"Beautiful inside and out, the property is magnificent and the hosts are wonderful people We couldn’t have had a nicer time We would stay there again in a minute"

Reviewed on May 18, 2022

Adorable Waterfront studio
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Manatee Viewing Center

Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
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901 Silver Palm Way, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
4 out of 5
900 Silver Palm Way, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
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Adorable Waterfront studio
Adorable Waterfront studio
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Adorable Waterfront studio
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Fun, Dog-Friendly Getaway with a Private Pool, Pool Spa, & Veranda with a Bar
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Fun, Dog-Friendly Getaway with a Private Pool, Pool Spa, & Veranda with a Bar
 Awesome Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-Bring your boat!!!
Awesome Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-Bring your boat!!!
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Awesome Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-Bring your boat!!!
Newly renovated single family home with direct water  access to Tampa Bay
Newly renovated single family home with direct water access to Tampa Bay
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Stunning Canal-Front Home w/Private Dock, Private Heated Pool & Spa, Lanai, & AC
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9303surfsdbhabnh - Surfside Beach House
9303surfsdbhabnh - Surfside Beach House
4 out of 5
6515 Surfside Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
9303surfsdbhabnh - Surfside Beach House
Surfside Beach House
Surfside Beach House
4 out of 5
6515 Surfside Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
Surfside Beach House
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.