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5 Things to See on a Walk Along the Manatee River

Enjoy a fun stroll along the Manatee River in Bradenton, Florida. It’s one of the most recognizable rivers along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Its wide waterways, shallow depths, and subdued tea coloration are all notable traits that fit right at home with many people’s image of Florida’s interior waters. The Manatee River in Florida is 46 miles long and flows from Manatee County over to Tampa Bay.

While many people are interested in the water part of Manatee River, there are also some easy, accessible trails along its shores that offer stunning views. The most popular of these is at the DeSoto Memorial. Riverview Pointe Preserve has some gorgeous Manatee River views, as well.

Wherever you wind up for your sightseeing adventure, what are five things you can expect to see as you walk the Manatee?

a manatee in Anna Maria Island

1. Manatee

It should go without saying that manatees are everywhere in the river. Keep your eyes peeled for the places they like to hang out, such as manatee coves. These hollows in the river walls house small groups of manatees. They are easier to spot in the coves as they like to float up near the surface and away from the water currents. If you have a guide, you may be allowed to get a little closer, though most contact is prohibited in a natural setting. The only exception is a single-hand touch, and only once they approach first.

Want to learn how to swim with manatees? Contact us for aquarium details and specific places to lawfully enter the water with these friendly giants.

2. Excited Kayakers

Experts and first-timers alike test their skills, sometimes patiently, along the majestic Manatee River. You are bound to see lines of kayakers out in the water during the high season.

You don’t have to watch from afar. You won’t find many better activities than Manatee River kayaking. You can utilize the Manatee River 9-mile paddling trail to have a big adventure on the water.

Close up of alligator in Anna Maria Island

3. Gators

You could also go for a little gator chasing on the Manatee River. There are plenty of gators to spot along the river’s surface. But, don’t worry, unless you jump in the river with a steak dinner, they’re not apt to bother you much. That said, swimming the Manatee River is not recommended.

Instead, keep your eyes on the surface and by the shore, and you may be lucky enough to spot a few beady eyes and scaly backs in the shallows. Manatee River alligators tend to sleep below the surface during the day but are often seen surfacing at dusk.

4. Fishing

Pull out your Manatee River map because it is time to find some great fishing spots. For every manatee you may spot, you are sure to see 20 fishermen lining the edge of the river. Manatee River fishing is popular due to the steady populations of local species and the easy access to the river’s edge along many of its 46 miles.

Close up of a bird in Anna Maria Island

5. Assorted Flying Wildlife

Between the sea turtles, the alligators, and the many fish, there’s no end to the different marine animals you can find. And birds are everywhere, too.

Anna Maria Island is a pivotal breeding point for many species. Hidden in the hardwood hammocks are herons, egrets, and assorted shorebirds. You can even find wild peacocks and pelicans tucked away by the river. The most astonishing sight is probably the bald eagle, usually perched high in the trees.

If you are interested in hitting the water, there are two main water entry points. The first is at Ray’s Canoe Hideaway and the other is at the Rye Wilderness Preserve. The former access point has year-round kayak rentals available.

Whether you stay on the trails or hit the water properly, the Manatee River is the perfect place to experience the best of Anna Maria Island’s nature. Browse our wide selection of our Anna Maria Island pet-friendly vacation rentals or our Anna Maria Island rentals with a pool and start planning your Anna Maria Island vacation today!