Tag Archives: Everglades

Airboat Rides in the Everglades: An Ultra Favorite Florida Activity

9 Jun

I visited the Everglades Safari Park on Sunday to have a nice airboat ride and get some one-on-one time in with Florida’s beloved alligators. I had taken an airboat ride once before, a couple of years ago, and knew the experience was quite enjoyable. But this was my first airboat ride on the Miami side of the Everglades and it was a positively different experience!

Everglades Safari Park camp, Miami, FL

Most of inhabitable Florida is beaches,  football, SUVs, and shopping centers, so in my mind airboating in the Glades is one of the few activities you can do that is exotic and makes you feel like somewhat of an explorer. I brought along a guest who had never done this before. I chose Everglades Safari Park because they promised 30-40 minutes of riding time, as well as their unique system of jungle walkways at the base camp. They also have a wildlife show which we unfortunately missed.

An exploration of the jungle walkways allowed us glimpses of various types of alligators, crocodiles, and exotic birds. The amount of dragonflies in the air was almost magical, and I was grateful since they eat mosquitoes. And if you have never been to the Everglades, trust me, the mosquitoes out there are guerillas. They’re relentless and swatting at them only seems to make them latch on with more zeal.

For $3 I had the opportunity to hold a baby alligator. This was a new experience and was awesome! Generally I’m not a reptile fan, so was a bit nervous, but I figured if they’re letting anyone hold the little guy he must be pretty safe. His belly felt cold and very dense, he was heavier than I anticipated.

After some exploring on foot, it was time for the ride. With nine rows of benches, our airboat was massive. Each bench could seat about 7 people. I think it’s best described as the pontoon boat of airboats. We chose the last row allowed, the eighth, and got seats on the end. There are pros and cons to riding on such a large airboat.

Cons:

-There are a lot of passengers accompanying you. This leads to a less intimate experience with the Glades, especially when some of your fellow explorers are loudmouths.

-The boat doesn’t hit the top speeds that the smaller ones can. Logistically and safety-wise it’s  not reasonable. This is, for all intents and purposes, a party boat.

-Because of its massive size, the boat can’t be maneuvered into the narrower mangrove passages. You’re forced to stay in the wider, more open, and less biologically diverse areas of the Glades.

Pros:

-Because of the lower speeds, we were able to stand up while riding on the boat. This was super fun and felt freeing.

-It’s still an airboat ride in the Everglades, therefore is intrinsically fun. Likewise, it’s a ride in a boat at fast speeds, which provides a nice breeze on a hot Florida afternoon.

Everglades Safari Park was on SW 8th Street, all the way into the heart of the Everglades. The area is home to at least four other airboat ride facilities, each with their own unique tourist attractions. I would certainly go again on another lazy Sunday, as any excuse to get out of the city is fine by me. I also find the Everglades peaceful to look at, providing a calm environment to get some peace of mind.