Everglades Airboat Tours

Exploring the River of Grass: Marshes, Wetlands, Alligators, and more

Everglades Airboat Tours near Miami

Everglades Airboat Tours are one of the most popular options for exploring the vastness of the area, learn about the many ecosystems and enjoy searching for wildlife.

It is important to note that airboat tours are not conducted within the Everglades National Park boundaries, but there are numerous operators spread over the area just outside the park.

Everglades Airboat tours vary in duration, most common ones range between 20-25 minutes to 90 minutes and there are many options to choose from, smaller more private boats or the larger steadier crafts.

During the dry season (November through April), tours are conducted on a continuous basis, every half hour or so for most outfits. On weekends and holidays, they are all quite busy and making reservations ahead of time is a good idea specially if you have a large group.

It makes it easier having your own car as there are no public transportation options to bring you to the Everglades from Miami or Miami Beach. If you don't have your own transport though, there are many tours that will provide pick up service to/from the hotels in the city.

Everglades Airboat Tours: anhinga

About Everglades Airboat Rides

An Everglades Airboat Tour is often on our "to do list" when we have family or friends visiting, this is certainly one of the highlights of their Florida visit, specially for the kids.

Here's a recap of one of our recent Airboat rides. This visit was in mid-April, almost at the end of the season. Water levels were very low, any lower and the boats would not have been able to make it.

We opted for one of the large boats since we had grandma and grandpa with us and they preferred something steadier than the little boats that spin all around.

This recap is from Everglades Safari Park on Tamiami Trail. It was a very enjoyable ride as always.

While Getting Ready to Board...

You will spot wildlife as soon as you step in the park so keep your eyes open! As we were waiting to board our boat:

We spotted an alligator just relaxing by the shoreline soaking in the rays...

Everglades Airboat Tour: an alligator

Not far from the gator, a turtle wading in the water just underneath the lotus foliage...

Everglades Airboat Tour: turtle

An egret just walking around and catching some food near the shallows...

Everglades Airboat Tour: Egret

And as if on cue, a blue heron standing by the boardwalk greeting on the visitors...

Everglades Airboat Tour: Egret

And We're Off: The Airboat Ride

As soon as we were aboard, we were given ear plugs just in case it got too noisy and were reminded not to toss the wrapper overboard, and we were off.

The ride starts off slowly as you move through the dense vegetation and the mangrove jungle. This is the best time to spot wildlife, when the boat is not moving fast. Our guide was quick to point out, everything that came our way, like these baby Blue Herons right at the start of the tour:

Mangrove Jungle

And as soon as we were underway it was gator galore...

Some just lazying around the edges...

Everglades Airboat Tour: Gators

Some swimming straight to the boat...

Everglades Airboat Tour: More Gators

And once we got into the open expanse, the airboat really flew. As our guide explained, the "swamp" is actually a slow-moving river. At the time its depth was only between three to five inches of water.

You can see the difference in the vegetation and the landscape and what a difference of only a few inches of altitude can make, in between the marsh and grasses there were small islands or hammocks where the elevation was only a few inches higher.

Everglades Airboat Tour: Marshes and Hardwood Hammock

If you are a bird lover, then bring some binoculars and look everywhere. We were lucky to see many different sorts of birds.

Egrets and herons which were plentiful but beautiful to watch in flight...

Everglades Airboat Tour: bird in flight

And the quite unusual and beautiful Purple Gallinule...

Everglades Airboat Tour: Purple Gallinule

There is plenty to keep you watching and admiring for the entire time, our tour lasted around 30-40 minutes. Take a look at this short video of our Everglades Airboat ride:

After the airboat rides, most places have boardwalks and exhibits, cafeterias, wildlife shows, etc. so you can easily spend a couple more hours in the area or head over to Everglades National Park.

Where to go for an Airboat Ride?

One of the most popular routes to find an airboat tour is along US 41, or Tamiami Trail, which is not only a very scenic road full of wildlife, but also convenient when visiting Everglades Park at the Shark Valley entrance or even going further to explore the Big Cypress National Preserve.

If you are visiting the park at the Main Entrance in Homestead, you can find a couple of airboat tours right before you get to the park.

Simply drive along these two corridors and you can not miss the many signs advertising the airboat rides, there are plenty of them.

See the above Airboat Tour Options described here.

Types of Airboats and Tours, Big Boat or Little Boat?

Another consideration will be whether to take a group tour on one of the larger operators or one of the smaller private tours.

If you are after a more personalized experience where you have your expert naturalist guide sharing his/her knowledge and passion at your own pace then going with one of the smaller operators will suit you best. Advance reservations are of course required.

The small boats also claim to be able to get to parts where the larger boats cannot, but remember that wildlife viewing is a bit of hit or miss, there is no telling what you will see whether you are on the big boat or the small one.

Everglades Airboat Wildlife Sightings: Alligator

The small boats can certainly go much faster and take in the turns and spins, which if you are traveling with the kids, it will be a real hit.

And if price matters, the large airboat tours are certainly more economical but depending on the size of your group a private tour might not be that much more expensive since the price is per group not per person.

Everglades Airboat Tour Operators

Here are some Everglades Airboat Tour Operators around Miami. Although not at all comprehensive (we're still working on it) it can get you started!

Everglades Airboat Ride Options

Operator
(MAP #)
Description Times * Cost Rating/
Reviews**

* Times subject to seasonal changes, please check with operator
** Ratings and Reviews provided by TripAdvisor visitors

Everglades Safari Park
1

26700 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33196
+1 305-226-6923

Eco Adventure includes 30-40 minute airboat tour, a Wildlife Nature Show, Jungle Trail and Exhibits.

Private tours available.

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Boats leave about every 20 to 30 minutes

Admission Adult $28
Children 5-11 $15
Check for Groupon Discounts
Tours including Transportation $49 Book

4-star rating
Reviews

Coopertown Airboats
2

22700 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL 33194
+1 305-226-6048

A family-owned business since 1945, they operate 7 airboats. Boats range in size and can hold between 12 and 30 people each. Specialize in personalized tours.

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Boats leave about every 20 minutes

Adult $23
Children 7-11 $11
Check for Groupon Discounts

4-star rating
Reviews

Gator Park
3

24050 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33194
+1 305-559-2255

Tickets to Gator Park include admission, airboat ride through the Everglades and alligator wrestling at the Wildlife show.

Private tours available.

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Boats leave about every 20 to 30 minutes

Admission Adult $24.99
Children $12.99
Tours including Transportation $39.99 Book

4-star rating
Reviews

Everglades Nature Tours
4

ValuJet Flight 592 Memorial, Mile marker 30, Hwy 41, Miami, FL 33194 Miami, FL 33194
+1 305-878-3392

One and one-and-a-half hour Small Group tours. Also available Swamp Buggy Tours, Swamp Walks, Van Tours, Private Tours

7:00 am to 7:00 pm

One-Hour $50
90 minutes $70
More info and booking

5-star rating
Reviews

Everglades Alligator Farm
5

40351 SW 192 Ave, Homestead, FL 33034-6901
+1 305-247-2628

Admission ticket grants you access to 20-25 minute Everglades airboat ride, all family-friendly activities and wildlife shows, snake show and alligator feeding.

9:00 am to 5:30 pm

Admission Adult $27
Children (4-11) $19.50
More info and booking

4.5-star rating
Reviews

Options for Airboat Tours

There are also a big range of tour options that combine a little sightseeing in the city, a Biscayne Bay cruise, and an excursion to the Everglades. If you are short on time and want "to see it all" these options are worth considering as they will also save you some money. Also, if you don't have a car, these provide transportation from hotels or central points in Miami and Miami Beach and the Everglades.

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