Manatee Viewing Center

Vacation Travel Guide
Manatee Viewing Center featuring modern architecture and views

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

Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
Apollo Beach, FL
Situated on the waterfront, this vacation home is 1.8 mi (3 km) from Manatee Viewing Center and 2.3 mi (3.6 km) from Tampa Bay. St. Joseph's Hospital-South - ...
5/5 Exceptional! (26 reviews)
Amazing vacation
"We had a wonderful time. This property is beautiful. We saw manatees and dolphins. We would definitely stay here again."

Reviewed on Nov 21, 2021

Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
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
Situated in Apollo Beach, this golf villa is 1 mi (1.6 km) from Tampa Bay and 2.6 mi (4.1 km) from Manatee Viewing Center. St. Joseph's Hospital-South - Diabetes ...
Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
Apollo Beach, FL
This family-friendly Apollo Beach vacation home is located on the waterfront, within 3 mi (5 km) of Tampa Bay and Manatee Viewing Center. E.G. Simmons Regional ...
2.5/5 (2 reviews)
Great available host!
"Host was very accommodating. The kids loved the outdoor tiki hut and swimming pool."

Reviewed on Nov 23, 2019

Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
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.

Popular places to visit in Manatee Viewing Center

Manatee Viewing Center


Best Lodging Options Near Manatee Viewing Center

Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
Apollo Beach, FL
Serenity Now, Affordable Waterfront Oasis
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
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Apollo Beach W Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! The Manor 5 Bedroom Home
Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
Apollo Beach, FL
Apollo Beach Home w/ Pool, Entertaining Space
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
Apollo Beach W/ Pool, Room To Entertain, Pet Friendly! 6 Bedroom Home
Fun, Dog-Friendly Getaway with a Private Pool, Pool Spa, & Veranda with a Bar
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!!!
Apollo Beach, FL
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
Apollo Beach, FL
Newly renovated single family home with direct water access to Tampa Bay
Surfside Beach House
Surfside Beach House
4 out of 5
6515 Surfside Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL
Surfside Beach House
9303surfsdbhabnh - Surfside Beach House
9303surfsdbhabnh - Surfside Beach House
4 out of 5
6515 Surfside Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL
9303surfsdbhabnh - 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.