Everyone knows that Everglades airboat tours are the best way to explore the Everglades in Florida. But which companies offer the best tours? Read my experiences with Everglades airboat tours right here, including great tips what else you can do in the Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is one of the largest nature reserves in the United States. It is located in the state of Florida and is approximately 1 hour’s drive from Miami. Everglades National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique ecosystem consisting of mangroves and swamps and is best known for its alligators and airboats.
Airboats are small open-air boats with a flat bottom and are propelled by a kind of large propeller. They are perfect for sailing in shallow waters such as swamps. This is the ideal means of transportation to explore the area around the Everglades National Park and to spot wildlife. There are no airboat tours within the Everglades National Park. You can find these outside the borders of the official national park.
One of the experiences of my first Florida trip that I remembered the most is an Everglades airboat tour. I can still vividly remember how great an activity I found this. Full enthusiasm, I convinced Jan to come along and experience the Everglades together for the first time.
Everglades airboat tours
Book an Everglades airboat tour
We left Miami early in the morning and hadn’t made plans yet where to book an Everglades airboat tour. From downtown Miami where we stayed it was about an hour drive to the Everglades National Park. From experience I knew that we could just drive towards the park and that we could find various airboat tours companies on the way there.
A few years ago I did an Everglades airboat tour with Buffalo Tigers Everglades Airboat tours. And I enjoyed it very much. I still remember that these tours mainly went through the swamp and grassy environments. I was able to spot a lot of wildlife and I had an enthusiastic and helpful guide who was very happy to share his knowledge with the visitors.
Of course I wanted a different experience and Jan wanted an airboat tour through the mangrove. After a short google session on the internet, we found an airboat company that offered mangrove tours.
Jungle Erv’s airboats
Arriving at Jungle Erv’s airboats I was a bit disappointed. This company is located in the centre of Everglades City. There are various airboat tours companies next to each other. I thought it didn’t look very authentic and especially very touristy. But since Jan was super enthusiastic because of the trip was through the mangrove, I decided to give it a chance.
We paid 42 USD per person for an 1 hour airboat tour through mangrove. We also had access to the boardwalk and the alligator show.
Through the Mangroves
Together with a Swedish family and our fairly silent guide, we boarded the airboat. From the moment we turned into the mangroves we were amazed by this unique maze of lush, overgrown waterways. Our guide turned a gear up and we bursted through the narrow, winding mangroves. A real adrenaline rush!
On the trip we could spot little wildlife. We saw 1 alligator and a raccoon. The guide tried to lure the raccoon closer with vitamin water. I personally thought this was not ok.
Besides being a good airboat captain, I can hardly tell anything more about our guide. He mainly drove the boat and didn’t give much explanation.
You should definitely not book this trip to spot wildlife, but it is highly recommended if you want to speed through the mangroves.
Boardwalk and Alligator show
After that, we made a pleasant walk along the boardwalk of Jungle Erv’s airboats through the beautiful nature and along the water.
Once we arrived at the alligator show I found it hard to hide my aversion. Various alligators were held here and exhibited to visitors. The keeper explained that these were alligators who wouldn’t survive in the wild and were very happy here. But when they were taken out one by one, got a band tied around the mouth and were touched by the visitors, I didn’t think they looked really happy. I refused to touch an alligator and I absolutely didn’t want to take any pictures of it.
If you really want to spot alligators in the Everglades, then look for an airboat tour that focuses primarily on spotting wildlife and not so much on spectacle.
What else can you do in Everglades National Park?
Of course you can do much more activities in the Everglades National Park than just airboat tours.
There are various entrances to Everglades National park: Flamingo, Shark valley, Gulf coast visitor center and Chekika. There is an entrance fee.
At the main entrance and Flamingo you pass the Ernest F. Coe visitor center and the Flamingo visitor Center where you can find more information about the Everglades National Park, but also buy mosquito repellent for example. A little further away is the Royal Palm visitor centre from which the most beautiful hiking trails Anhinga Trail and Gumbo Limbo Trail depart.
From the Shark valley visitor centre you can take a shark valley tram tour through the swamp to the observation tower where you have a beautiful view over the Everglades National Park. You can also rent a bike there and ride this road by bike.
The Gulf coast area consists mainly of mangroves. Here you can rent canoes and kayaks to explore the densely grown mangroves in an adventurous way.
Chekika is primarily a known place to spot beautiful birds.
Where to eat near Everglades National Park?
Looking for a place to have lunch, we came across Joanie’s blue crab café. This is with one of the most exceptional places we have eaten on our road trip through the Deep South. It is also a place that we would definitely recommend to anyone. Here you can actually soak in that typical local atmosphere
It’s absolutely not a star restaurant, but you must go there for the experience. For dessert I would advice the Key Lime Pie, a typical regional dish with a refreshing Lime flavor.
Where to spend the night near Everglades National Park?
If you can’t get enough of the Everglades National Park and you want to spend several days. Then take a look at these unique accommodations.
Even though this airboat tour was a bit disappointing for me. Nevertheless, I recommend that you definitely do one during your stay in the Everglades. But plan your trip in advance and search for a good Airboat tour organization that will take you to see and experience the beautiful fauna and flora of the Everglades.
Are you traveling to Florida in the United States soon? Then don’t forget to read following blog posts:
- The highlights of Miami in 1 day
- The perfect family trip to Ginnie Springs
- Experience the Deep South in B&B The Herlong Mansion
- The 5 best beaches around Sanibel Island
Did you ever take an Everglades airboat tour, let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
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