Take an Airboat Tour in Everglades National Park
The Everglades in southern Florida is home to Alligator Alley and some amazing wildlife. An airboat tour is a fun and educational way to truly appreciate the beauty of this area. There are plenty of tour companies to choose from. We chose Captain Jack’s mangrove airboat tour and it did not disappoint. Hilton Naples and Hilton Marco Island Resort (re-opening summer 2018) are both nearby.
Florida Everglades Airboat Adventure with Kids
Our Everglades Airboat Tour
This airboat tour takes you on a winding tour of the mangroves which are home to alligators, blue herons, raccoons, owls and many more beautiful creatures. The mangroves line a water roadway where an inexperienced boater could get completely lost. The airboats move effortlessly over the logs and branches that inhabit these treacherous waterways.
Airboats were created in the 1920s to enable fishers and hunters to utilize the mangroves. They are flat bottom boats that can easily glide over the shallow waters with the propulsion of a giant caged fan. Airboats are still used for fishing and hunting but are now a huge source of tourism for Florida.
Our captain took us on an hour-long journey where at times we hit 40 mph and took some 180° turns on the water. It was exhilarating and a little terrifying at the same time, yet I never felt afraid for even a moment.
The captain spent a lot of time teaching us about the mangroves themselves, the wildlife we saw here and the history of the area. We learned that a blue heron can eat a baby alligator whole and that the raccoons found in the mangroves are not rabid. We also learned that Everglades National Park is the largest protected mangrove forest in the hemisphere.
Spotting Everglades Wildlife
There are no guarantees on seeing wildlife; however, the captains are very well versed in where to look. Plus, they all work together to communicate sightings so that everyone gets a chance to see something interesting. Perhaps our favorite sightings were the 10-foot gator and a raccoon resting in the tree.
If you asked my kids, they would say they enjoyed the top speed boating and 180° turns the most, but nothing beats seeing a wild alligator in its element. They are massive and prehistorically beautiful creatures.
Perhaps my favorite part was the twisty mangroves. They wove around themselves so intricately and house so many incredible types of wildlife. Their reflection off the water was artistic and peaceful.
Tips for Your Everlades Airboat Adventure
- Don’t wear hats or sunglasses that are too loose and may fly off at these top speeds.
- If you choose to bring a bag and a camera, make sure you have a strap to hold onto.
- Don’t forget sunscreen, the sun is intense. While you won’t feel hot because of the speeds, the sun is still strong.
- Bring a bag lunch to snack on before or after because, depending on where you are staying, the drive to the everglades can get long.
- And last but not least, hold on tight!
You may also enjoy:
- Animal Encounters in the Upper Florida Keys
- Key Largo with Kids: Day Trip to the Everglades Alligator Farm
- Shelling on Marco Island, Florida
- 4 Reasons to Take Your Kids to Marco Island, FL
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Michelle and her family reside in a small town outside of St. Paul. They love the quiet their little city affords them, but enjoy being just minutes…