Canaveral National Seashore | MANATEE OBSERVATION DECK

Manatee Observation Deck at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Manatee Observation Deck at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge


See the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge web page for an interactive location map.


An observation deck for viewing manatees at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located where Kennedy Parkway crosses the Haulover Canal. This is a popular stopping point for tourists, and while the parking lot may fill up, people don’t stay very long, so there are always spots coming available. The observation deck has benches for guests to sit and enjoy the sights, plus wayside exhibits about manatees.

Manatee Observation Deck at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Manatee Observation Deck at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

For whatever reason, manatees enjoy this spot on the canal, though the water temperature must be at least 70° F or they won’t come around. Winter can be hit or miss, but during the spring, summer, and fall the water is usually warm enough. I was there in early March and saw four manatees during my ten-minute visit. If the water gets too cold, they head for the warm discharge waters near power plants.

Manatees in Haulover Canal

Manatees in Haulover Canal

Manatees are not paid performers, so there is never a guarantee that you will see them. If you cannot find any here, the try the Bair’s Cove Boat Ramp.

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Last updated on February 8, 2024
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