I found Snorkel with Manatees through an internet search and actually lucked out on finding a high-quality tour. It's very laid-back and casual - located in a small harbor on a river. You're still a ways away from the Gulf, so I was disappointed that we didn't have Gulf views. We rented a car and drove there and had no problems finding it. Since it was late August, it was considered "off-season" for Manatees, but we didn't care. The harbor is kind of like a boat maintenance facility, so it's nothing fancy. There's a working bathroom with shower, but it's like something you'd find at a campground. It seems that a lot of local residents bring their boats here for a quick fill-up before heading out on the water. There's a small shop where you can purchase drinks and snacks, but not a big selection. And finding someone there is hit or miss. The Snorkeling tour is not a part of the larger facility, so if the tour boats are out, just wait around a bit and enjoy the views.
The tours seem to operate on their own schedule and they really try to find you the manatees. The downside is if you're on the next tour, it may cut into your tour time. But we had all the time in the world and didn't mind, especially since they treat you like you are the only one there. I forgot who our Captain was, but he was an older gentleman and super, super nice. We lucked out that there was only one young couple on the tour with us, so we got a real personal tour. Wetsuits are optional, and it was so HOT that day, so I opted not to wear one. BIG MISTAKE. The water temperature is constant year-round, and it is COLD. I was so uncomfortable in the water that I couldn't stay with the manatees long.
We managed to find a mom and a calf, but they like to stay under the piers, so the water gets even colder in the shadows. They are super gentle, but definitely intimidating at first! The captain does not get in the water with you. He will navigate the boat, point them out, and then off you go! I kind of like that - being able to go where we please. We saw an amazing HUGE crab on the bottom of the floor - that's how clear the water is. It is a residential area, so don't be surprised to see neighbors out and about. Yes, alligators are around, but they typically shy away from the heavily populated areas so you don't have to worry about them. (Unless someone's feeding them from their backyard)
In short, this is a great, laid-back tour that really tries to get you a personal experience with the manatees. It's endorsed by the National Geographic, so they really care about the local ecosystem and protecting the manatees. Highly recommend. After the tour, our captain said you could drive a bit and get to the Gulf, but we decided to head back to the hotel. (We drove from Orlando) I would recommend for older children - you have to be able to swim/ snorkel on your own. Water is deep. They provide noodles to hold on to for a break from swimming.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.