Your enjoyment of this park will depend on when you go. You need to take 2 things into consideration:
There is no food source for the manitees in this inlet. The manitees are drawn to the warm water created by the power plant if the bay water is too cold. If the bay waters are warm, then the manitees will actually avoid this park as it would be uncomfortably hot for them. Winter, during a cold spell, will attract over 250 manitees into this small area. During long cold spells, mother manitees will actually leave their babies with baby sitters in the inlet while they return to the bay to feed and replenish their milk. When we visited, it was 50 degrees in Florida and the park was filled with manitees. However, I understand that it typically is home to about 50 manitees at a time for most of the winter.
Time of Day
Viewing the manitees is hard if the sun is reflecting off the surface of the water and shining in your face. Therefore, you want the sun behind you. Visit in the morning or noon when the sun is overhead. As you get into the afternoon, it will be harder and harder to see them under the water.
When I visited, there were tons of manitees to watch and they were easy to view.
This park screams of value. It costs only $1 per hour to park. There are no other fees. Even if you do not see a single manitee, the park is interesting. The park is also home to many butterflies and interesting flora.
I highly recommend you bring a bag lunch and sit in one of the covered picnic tables.
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