Sometimes, it takes spending time with tourists to really SEE and appreciate the gorgeous area that we live in.

With my boyfriend’s family in town from Pennsylvania, we lathered up with SPF 50 and signed up for Captain Pete’s Lagoon Adventures in Merritt Island where we were promised to see sea cows and dolphins,  provided with all we needed to fish and have fun exploring islands. I’ve lived around the Space Coast for almost 21 years now and even live on a canal in Cocoa Beach, and never once have I explored and appreciated our county’s beautiful waters, sea life and nature like I did on this trip.

Captain Pete and our crew mate was kind as we sailed in and around Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge along the Banana river. It was just six of us with the boat to ourselves which made the 2-hour trip very intimate and fun. While we were out on the water,  we saw a ton of wildlife. Our crew mate told us about a little trick to get the manatees up and close to the boat. He collected water in a bucket tied to a string and poured it back into the waters. The manatees thought it was fresh water and about five of them surfaced to the top of the water to take a drink!

We even saw a couple alligators basking in the sun on the shore of an island. As we were headed back to land, we saw a pack about five dolphins swimming together just 20 feet in front of us. We all “awed” at once when we the saw the baby dolphin come to the surface. Captain Pete even took us to an island to get off and collect seashells. We saw a ton of conk on the shore.

After a great afternoon on the water, we regretfully had to head back to land. But before we reached the shore, Captain Pete checked to see if he had collected any crabs and he did! He even offered to let us take them home.

I couldn’t believe it took me 21 years to really “see” and experience the amazing area we live in. If you’re looking for an up close and personal wildlife adventure with the family, I’d definitely recommend going with Captain Pete. Our family will definitely be back.

-Allysar Hassan