Have you ever seen video of cool air boats with the big fans in the back flying down a waterway in the Everglades? Have you ever dreamed of taking a ride in one? Well, I have. And you know what? It’s a heck of a good time!
Since I moved to Southwest Florida 4 years ago, I have seen ads for airboat rides everywhere. I live so close to the Everglades that it is easy for me to run down to Everglades City in less than an hour and hop on one. If you are ever in this neck of the woods, or should I say swamp, you might try an airboat ride for yourself.
Airboats are designed to ride over extremely shallow water, like in a swamp, and they are loud as heck! Good news is that tour companies either give you ear plugs for the noise, or even better, a headset, so they can talk to you. Just be sure to bring a hat or ponytail holder if you have long hair due to the wind.
From the Gulf Coast of Florida, near Naples and Ft. Myers, the main area for airboat tours is in and around Everglades City. Just take Exit 80 off of Interstate 75 and follow Highway 29 to the west. There are airboat tour companies near the intersection of Highways 29 and 41 and further into Everglades City proper.
If you are accessing the Everglades from the East Coast of Florida, near Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, you will find airboat tour companies on Highway 41. The companies are clustered at the east entrance to the Everglades on Highway 41.
Airboat tour companies basically offer the same type of airboat tours through the Everglades, but some are in slightly different areas. Some tours are more through mangroves, with their walking roots, while others are in more open areas with some sawgrass. A few of the companies even offer petting zoos and live alligator exhibits.
Of course, hopefully you will see alligators in their natural habitat while out on the airboats. But, this is not a guarantee! I took an airboat tour in March of 2017 and didn’t see any alligators at all while out on the airboat. But the pictures and video in this post are of an airboat tour I took over Thanksgiving weekend 2018 and I saw plenty of alligators! So, you just never know.
Besides alligators, you might see birds of all kinds from osprey to egrets to herons. You might also be lucky enough to see a roseate spoonbill. You might mistake it for a flamingo. I did! Nonetheless, your head will be constantly turning to try and catch a glimpse of any kind of wildlife as you fly by in the airboat.
What might catch you by surprise though is the beauty of the Everglades. I have been many places in my life and have never seen country quite like it. The Everglades are vast and open with sawgrass stretching forever, intertwining waterways, and weird types of trees like the mangroves that seem to simply grow out of the water. It is truly something to see!
I hope you enjoy this post and perhaps one day take the time to get down this way and see the Everglades for yourself. Maybe you’ll even take that airboat ride that you’ve been dreaming about.