My family recently took a vacation to Pompano Beach, FL. One activity included a short drive to the Everglades for an airboat tour. The hour-long excursion took us through a tiny corner of the park. (Everglades National Park spans 1.5 million acres.) The boat quickly winds through the swamp–well, it’s really a slow-moving river–making the occasional stop to observe various flora and fauna of the area. Of course, everyone wants to see the alligators and there are plenty to see!
Since we toured during alligator mating season–which is a great idea, by the way–we got to see plenty of gators. The captain made sure to circle the area so that both side of the boat could see the glorious reptiles. They’re pretty chill creatures. They either swam along the side of the boat or swam away if they didn’t want to be bothered. I’m pretty sure the families of gators in that area are accustomed to the boats. They keep a safe distance but don’t seem perturbed by onlookers.
While they’re relaxed around the airboats, the alligators ARE NOTE TAME so…ya know…don’t stick your hand down to pet one.
The tour also stops to feed birds (white bread, which is disheartening, but overall that was the most unsustainable part of the trip) and play with reeds that can be used as gauze in the case of an emergency. Fun times!
When you get back to land, you’ll be given the option to watch a presentation by one of the Gator Boys. Again, these rescued gators are super chill. The guide uses them for educational demos and a few harmless tricks. One had plenty of personality. He seemed to reluctant to cooperate during the presentation and then the guide walked away. The gator followed him. He plopped down at the guide’s feet and just looked up at the guide, then the tourists. It was kind of funny, like he was playing hard to get and then said, “Nah, nah. Just kidding. Let’s play.”
If you’re thinking about taking an Everglades tour by airboat, there are a few things that you should know.
- You’ll likely have to wait (about 20 minutes) so be sure to bring a water bottle and maybe a little misting fan to stay cool on hot days.
- If you get caught without a refresher, there is a convenience store that carries snacks and drinks. I recommend the Mexican frozen fruit and cream pops. Very sweet yet refreshing! My husband loved them and gobbled down three.
- If you’re really hungry, a tiny restaurant sells hamburgers, hotdogs, and that sort of thing. Not much for vegetarians. Outdoor seating only.
- The airboats are covered, so you won’t bake in the sun during the tour. Yay!
- If you’re sensitive to sound, you might want to bring little ear plugs. The boat is REALLY loud. The boat doesn’t go high speed all the time so you’ll be able to take out the earplugs and hear the tour guide speak.
- A waterproof camera is always a good idea. If you don’t have one, many people did just fine with their cameraphones and DSLRs. There isn’t too much splashing on the boat. No one on my tour complained about their devices getting wet. Just be smart.
I wasn’t planning to make a blog post out of this but we did manage to put together a quick video. This will give you a taste of the tour. Enjoy!