Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Whether you’re on a road trip to the Florida Keys or visiting Miami with friends, make sure to add a side trip to the Everglades on your itinerary for prime wildlife watching in Florida. The Everglades sits in the southern tip of Florida and await to add some serious ecological depth to any vacation. Over one million acres of complex marshland and swamp offer an array of wildlife sightings, interesting terrain and otherworldly flora. Of course, this rugged patch of the southern state can get pretty dicey, so opting for an expert let boat tour is a fantastic way to literally get your feet wet. These are the best boat tours in the Everglades.
Folks get the best of all worlds on this voyage amongst remote parts of Everglades National Park. Traveling is done by boat, foot and even kayaking. First time paddling? No problem. Beginners can work out their skills while gliding to Barrier Island Beach. Exploring deeper than many boat tours, you’ll see mangroves, beaches and possibly even wildlife up close. It’s certainly a way to start a trip with a splash, in this diverse ecosystem.
Airboats are a crazy contraption with a giant fan on the back to propel the vessel through the water, as passengers excitedly get misted and splashed. It’s a fun way to get some adrenaline going while having the privilege of listening to nature experts, who certainly know a thing or two about this swampy environment. The icing on top of this pick is the reptile demonstration after you disembark. You’ll leave with a whole new outlook on crocodiles, snakes and other species.
Ain’t no party like an airboat party—seriously, that’s why we are including another one (and several more below). Conveniently departing from Fort Lauderdale, this can be an easy add on to a current trip, and it clocks in at a reasonable four hours. The boat navigates through tall grasses and marsh areas, where turtles, gators and birds are abundant. The captain has been known to have some fun tales to tell, which makes the ride more enjoyable. If you have sensitive ears, bring some earplugs—these boats get noisy.
You know this is going to be pretty sweet when the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue Team from Animal Planet put on a gator demonstration as part of your excursion. Then get ready to hit the water for an hour of information infused exploration. It’s highly likely to spot a variety of animals among grassy water paths. As a bonus, groups get two photos of themselves enjoying the ride.
Solidly rated at five stars, you know this airboat trip should be on your vacay radar. The guide treks into areas with a high population of gators, while the boat keeps everyone safe and sound. What’s great about this ride is the limited seating for six, which is plenty for a family but small enough to where you won’t miss a thing.
Travelers staying in Miami will be pleased to know there’s an included transfer to the boat launch site for this tour. The entire experience is a bit longer than most, coming in at five hours. However, an alligator show is included during the adventure. That’s always a great addition to these rides, so you absolutely know you’re going to get to see a real live gator!
Tours depart conveniently from many cities, and Orlando is one of them. So maybe you are on a Disney or Universal Studios vacation and would like a day out in the water. You’re in luck! The experience even includes an alligator demonstration, which truly seems to be quite the popular add on to these airboat trips. We love it.
A host with deep knowledge of ecology takes guests on an exciting boat ride through the River of Grass, which is most definitely loaded with lines of tall, swaying brush and is a key part of the natural environment. Operators take extreme care when navigating, to avoid disturbing any habitat of the striking animals you’ll see. Initially, this tour departs from Miami, and can last from one to a few hours—the choice is yours.
The trip on the way in, via seaplane, might be cooler than the boat ride! Passengers will board the small aircraft to make a scenic entrance into the Everglades, from Miami. But you’ll boat through some unusual places like a native Miccosukee Indian site, and the guide will continually answer questions and fill you in. Then you have the fun plane ride back out!
What’s the benefit of venturing into the Everglades at night? Well it’s less crowded, you’ll see animal activity you wouldn’t during the day, and it’s just different, essentially. But before boarding for the starlight ride, you get exclusive access to a variety of exhibits, which focus on both animals, and the history of the Everglades. Before your adventure, guests get to truly appreciate the landscape and conservation efforts that have kept it all in tact over the years.