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You're planning to go from Panama City to the Keys and back in two weeks? That's pretty ambitious, unless you have an AWFULLY fast boat! I've spent a week just going from Tampa Bay down to Fort Myers and back, and even at that I would have liked to have had more time.

Heck! Even if I was driving, I would want to spend more than two weeks just going from Panama City down to Naples and back.

If you're doing the whole thing in two weeks, I don't think you're going to have much time for stopping at neat places. Nonetheless, some of the places I especially like along the west coast of Florida are Cedar Key, Tarpon Springs, Sarasota, Venice, Cayo Costa, Sanibel (really, there's about two weeks worth of interesting places to visit just in the Pine Island Sound/Charlotte Harbor area).

Anyway, good luck.
 

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If your wife wants to see manatees, take her here: Manatee Viewing Center - Tampa Electric right now! If you are coming in the summer, or even in the spring when the water is starting to warm up, then whether or not you will see manatees is pretty hit and miss. They spread out and move around once the water starts warming up.
 

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Do you know if you can get in the water with them or not?
No, you cannot get in the water with them.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act states, "It is unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner intentionally or negligently to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any Manatee."

Courts have consistently held that this means, if they swim up to you it is okay to look at them. Reach out to touch them, though, and you face arrest. Swim towards them... Same thing, big-time fines and/or jail time.

Yes, every year a lot of people get away with harassing manatees, and don't get caught. It warms my heart, though, every time I read about someone doing jail time, or facing bankruptcy-level fines, for thinking that they could swim after a manatee, pet it, play with it, whatever. They are not pets. They are a seriously endangered species. Please look, but otherwise leave them alone!
 
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