Three Sisters Springs is best known for one species: manatees. Related to the elephant, manatees are herbivores, surviving on seagrass and other vegetation growing beneath the water's surface. Population estimates put the manatee at around 6,000 individuals in the state of Florida, and each manatee can reach an impressive 1,200 to 1,800 pounds.
In the winter months, hundreds of these gentle giants converge on the springs, taking advantage of temperatures that hover near 70 degrees year round. Special swimming and snorkel tours offer visitors the opportunity to see the manatees in their underwater world, though certain areas are always roped off for the marine mammal's protection. The manatees are usually present in the spring from mid-November to mid-March.
If swimming is not in the cards, visitors can walk a circular wooden boardwalk above the springs for equally good looks at both the manatees and the springs. When water clarity prevails, the springs seem to shine a particularly impressive aquamarine shade, beautiful throughout the year. From April 1 until November 15 the manatee restrictions are lifted, and people are permitted to kayak within the springs. There are no boat facilities at the springs, which must be entered by boat or observed from the wooden boardwalk.
Because there is no parking at the springs, only walk-in visitors are permitted, unless they opt for the trolleys. Tickets are $7.50 for the trolleys, which depart from the Three Sisters Springs Visitor Center.