Buzzing Along on an Airboat Through the Everglades

Florida’s Everglades National Park

Yes, you can hike, canoe, and even bike in the Everglades, but who wants to do that when you can jump on one of Alexander Graham Bell’s coolest inventions?

Sure the telephone was decidedly ingenious but to devise a cross between an airplane and a boat? That’s just positively delightful. An airboat is the way to go.

Everglades Airboat Tour

Everglades Safari Park

To get our first taste of the park (we would be driving through later from Key West to Naples) we decided an airboat tour would be entertaining. We chose Everglades Safari Park based on location, reviews, and the fact that they offered a Groupon.

The family-run park has been operating for over 40 years and offers 30 to 40-minute airboat tours. The tour admission includes the airboat ride, alligator nature show and access to a walking path with observation areas. It took us about 2 hours total to explore everything.

From start to finish, we were pleasantly surprised. I was looking forward to the day, but it took a little arm-twisting to get my husband on board. When it was all said and done, he was extremely happy we chose the excursion. Not only was the boat ride amusing, but the marshland was beautiful and like nothing we’d seen before.

Everglades Safari Park Everglades Safari Park

First off, arrive early. We were on the first tour of the morning and it wasn’t full which was great. When it was time to sit and watch the show and then walk around it still wasn’t too hot which made it much more enjoyable. When we were leaving there was a long line forming and we were glad we popped out of bed early.

The Airboat Ride

The excitement kicked off as soon as we were loading onto the boat. A not-so-tiny alligator was lying along the shore RIGHT by the walkway to the boat. Just as I was asking Dave if he thought it was real, it started floating back into the water. It seemed crazy to be so close to this prehistoric-looking man-eater with no fencing or gate! I quickly walked hustled on the boat.

Everglades Safari Park

We glided through the vast waters camouflaged with sawgrass. The weather could not have been better. The turquoise sky with white puffy clouds made for a perfect backdrop for our introduction to the Everglades.

Experience the Everglades with Us!

We saw four alligators (including the one by the boat in the beginning), a blue heron and various other birds while we were on the tour. Ear plugs are included and a necessity as it is extremely loud buzzing around on an airboat.

The Wildlife Show

Once we finished the airboat tour we were led to a seated area around a gated gator island. A knowledgeable park ranger started the experience outside the gate with a non-poisonous snake. He informed us that there are 50 species of snakes found in Florida, with only six being venomous. Yuck! I am not a big fan of snakes so I was happy when this part of the show ended.

Everglades Safari Park - Park Ranger

The next part of the talk shocked us. The park ranger joined the extremely large alligators behind the fence which was alarming at first. He revealed to us that they have a close bond and that the alligators will answer to their names being called! What? Ludicrous I tell you.


The Best Part of the Day – We held a Baby Alligator!!

For an additional fee of $5 you can hold Snappy, the resident name of any baby alligator at the park (I’m sure they are probably on Snappy XXX at this point). I’ll admit I’m not the fearless one in the relationship so I was quite nervous. You can tell by looking at my body language versus Dave’s. He is cool as a cucumber gripping him tight and fully where I look like I’m barely holding on with just my fingers. Dave is holding him close to his body, I, however, look like I’m ready to drop and run at any given moment! It was the highlight of our day. So cool.

Interesting Information about the Everglades

  • It occupies almost all of southern Florida leaving only a little space for the cities of Homestead and Miami to the east.
  • Rainy and bug season runs from April to November.
  • It protects over 1.5 million acres
  • It is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states (behind Death Valley and Yellowstone)
  • It is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators coexist.
  • One out of three Floridians rely on the water from the Everglades for drinking water, over 7 million people in total.
  • Thirty-six protected animals live in the park including the elusive Florida panther.
  • It is one of only three areas in the world to have been declared: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Wetland of International Importance, and an International Biosphere Reserve.

Tip: Even though Safari Park has a nice picnic area with tables, I suggest finding a different place to eat if you packed your own lunch. We were under attack by the birds. They did have a cafeteria-style restaurant on site but I can’t speak to it since we did not eat there.

Additional information: Federal rules will be administered in 2016 banning the majority of private airboat tours currently operating in the Everglades. Only grandfathered companies will continue to operate as contractors for the park: Coopertown Airboats, Everglades Safari Park, and Gator Park.

Looking for more tips on travel to Florida?

Check out these posts:


Have you ever been on an airboat or held an alligator? Tell us in the comments.

Everglades Safari Park - Florida
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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

23 Responses

  1. LisaLDN

    I went on the Airboat ride when I lived in Florida, and it was so much fun! I actually had no idea it was Mr. Bell who invented it, that’s such a cool fact 🙂 I’m terrified of birds, so we didn’t end up eating in the picnic area, haha.

    • Dang Travelers

      Ha! The birds were bold as can be! They were trying to chase us out and hoping we would leave our food.

      • Gary White

        I am just leaving from here. I had a good time and the staff was very informative. I lost my shades over the side in 5he park and the staff tried to retrieve them…thanks for the effort Mikey.

  2. Chris Travels

    What an interesting (and seemingly ignored) little “nugget” the Everglades appear to be with all the cool facts you’ve given about this National Park. The airboat excursion you included in your day was certainly a big highlight, and provided a little adrenaline rush with the gator factor!

    • Dang Travelers

      We were so surprised how beautiful the Everglades were. We had no idea. To be fair, we had a perfect day. The sky was bright blue with big puffy clouds and it was around 70 degrees that morning. A wonderful day to be out and about!

  3. Milosz Zak

    I’m so glad I ran into this expose, when I was 12, I did the everglades watercraft tour with my family, and remember it as a frightening, awesome experience. The ‘gator’s were fierce.

    • Dang Travelers

      Glad we could bring some of those memories back to you! We weren’t sure if we’d like it, but it was so much fun.

  4. Dan Vineberg

    I toured the everglades during my trip to Fort Lauderdale with TBEX.

    I have to say though… I don’t know if it’s the fact that I visited on a rainy day or just the camera you’re using, but I never saw it quite like that!

    Super photography.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Dan. I do think we were really lucky with the day we had. I don’t think the weather could have been better. The sky was a vibrant turquoise and the white puffy clouds reflected off the water. Usually weather discussions are for small talk but we kept saying to each other, “man, it is a gorgeous day out here!” 🙂

  5. Vicki | MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld

    I loved the Everglades and airboat rides are so much fun! I also got to hold a baby aligator when I was there – but it was a lot smaller and had his snout taped shut. I would have preferred him not to have had – but for the sake of my fingers, I went with it!

    • Dang Travelers

      LOL I know the feeling. The ranger was joking around because I was nervous and before he handed him to me he basically jolted Snappy at me almost giving me a heart attack!

  6. Dom & Claire Flashpacking Duo

    Those airboats look so cool! We’ve always wanted to take a ride on one. Sounds like you had a great time, we never knew crocodiles and alligators lived there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Stacey Valle

    Very interesting facts about Everglades! I didn’t know it’s the only place in the world that crocodiles and alligators co-exist together!

    Despite being scared of the baby alligator, that’s awesome that you still tried to face it! haha, I can see your body language 🙂 Everglades have been on my list for a while and hope to visit it soon!

    • Dang Travelers

      We had no idea what we were on for when visiting the Everglades, but we are so glad we did! My heart was pounding so fast and look at the lil’ guy, he’s not that scary!

  8. sally

    This was one of my fav things in the Everglades! The Gators are magnificent aren’t they!? Like modern day dinosaurs! Great pictures!

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Sally. Yes, they are totally like modern day dinosaurs! It was one of our favorite things as well. The Everglades are so remote and secluded.

    • Dang Travelers

      Definitely something to add to your travel wish list Dylan. We weren’t sure it was going to be worth the money, but we loved every minute of it.

  9. Bethel Smith

    Wow, that looks like it was such a fun trip. I would love to go on an airboat tour one day. The water looks beautiful in your pictures and makes me want to go on vacation right now!

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