The 11 Best Everglades Airboat and Swamp Tours

If you’re planning a trip to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, visiting Everglades National Park should be on your to-do list. The South Florida national park is known for its expansive beauty, as well as its varied population of wildlife that includes everything from bobcats to alligators.

To see all the Everglades has to offer, sign up for a guided tour. U.S. News consulted both traveler sentiment and expert opinion to identify the top Everglades tours. Before you go, make sure you read through the National Park Service’s Wildlife Viewing Ethics to keep both yourself and the animals safe during your time in the park. When choosing the best Everglades tours, we avoided recommending operators that promote wildlife shows or encourage feeding or holding the animals for photo ops.

Visitors should plan to pay a fee to enter the park, as it may not be included in the price of the tour ticket. You should also keep in mind that many of these tour operators are located at least 30 miles west of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Tours that run on airboats – open-air vessels with huge fans at the back that propel the boat – can be very loud. Companies will generally offer ear protection, but if you or your companions are sensitive to loud noises, contact the tour provider to discuss options before you book.

The Best Everglades Airboat and Swamp Tours

Alligator in water in foreground with airboat full of people in background

(Courtesy of Sawgrass Recreation Park)

Sawgrass Recreation Park – Everglades Airboat Adventure & Animal Sanctuary Admission

Price: Adults from $27; kids from $17
Duration: 40 minutes

Located about 25 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Recreation Park offers two experiences for the price of one. You’ll start your visit with a 30- to 40-minute airboat ride, keeping your eyes peeled for alligators and other wildlife as you skim the glassy water at speeds of up to 40 mph. After your airboat ride, you’ll have the chance to peruse the park’s reptile exhibits, which features alligators, snakes, iguanas and turtles. Reviewers applaud the boat captions, who travelers say are well-versed in the plant and animal life of the Everglades and make every effort to find alligators for tourgoers to observe. However, a few warn that if you take this trip when temperatures are too hot (like during summer afternoons), you may not spot any alligators or other animals.

Sawgrass Recreation Park welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boats depart multiple times daily between around 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the animal exhibits stay open until 5 p.m. Tickets start at approximately $27 for adults and $17 for kids ages 4 to 12. Children 3 and younger can participate for free. In addition to public tours, Sawgrass Recreation Park also operates private airboat tours.

Everglades Swamp Tours – One Hour Group Tour

Price: Adults from $60; kids from $30
Duration: 1 hour

This hourlong sightseeing trip takes you out on an airboat to cruise through the Everglades’ main waterways in search of alligators, birds and interesting vegetation. Throughout the ride, knowledgeable guides share facts about the area’s history and ecology. Many travelers recommend booking this tour, describing it as fun and informative, with plenty of wildlife sightings. Departures generally take place daily at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., but availability may vary by month.

Tickets cost approximately $60 per adult and $30 per child ages 6 to 12; reservations are required. Children 5 and younger can ride for free. Also check out Everglades Swamp Tours for private airboat tours that last up to two hours.

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures – 30-Minute Airboat Tour

Price: Adults from $35; kids from $30
Duration: 30 minutes

Located at the headwaters of the Everglades in Kissimmee, Florida (about 40 miles south of Orlando), Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures earns praise from reviewers for its personable, experienced staff and the family-friendly environment. On the 30-minute airboat ride, you and up to 16 other passengers will glide through the tall grass in search of eagles, alligators, raccoons and more. In addition to airboat rides, the site houses a replica of a Jororo Tribe village, as well as a gem and fossil mining activity for kids.

Tickets cost approximately $35 for participants ages 11 and older and $30 for kids ages 3 to 10. Infants ages 2 and younger ride for free. Reservations are not required; tours depart throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. For a longer adventure, consider the company’s hourlong airboat ride. There are also sunset and night tours, if you’re hoping to avoid the midday heat and crowds.

Marsh Landing Adventures – 90-Minute Everglades Airboat Tour

Price: Adults from $65; kids from $60
Duration: 1.5 hours

For wildlife lovers who want more than half an hour to experience the Everglades, this 1.5-hour airboat ride from Marsh Landing Adventures is an excellent experience. Located in Kissimmee on Lake Tohopekaliga, Marsh Landing Adventures promises travelers an in-depth look at the headwaters of the Everglades and the plants and animals that inhabit its waters. What’s more, because its boats are smaller, the company says it can reach areas of the Everglades that are inaccessible to larger boats. Travelers give kudos to the boat captain for their educational and entertaining delivery. Many call the experience the highlight of their Florida vacation.

Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $65 for participants ages 11 and older and $60 for kids ages 3 to 10, as well as seniors 62 and older. Children 2 and younger ride for free. Reservations are required, and there is a 1% fuel surcharge. Marsh Landing Adventures also offers hourlong, two-hour and four-hour airboat rides.

Alligator swimming, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA.

(Getty Images)

Everglades City Airboat Tours

Price: Adults from about $47; kids from about $31
Duration: 1 hour

Everglades City Airboat Tours sets itself apart from other companies by offering participants two-way headsets, which allow passengers and guides to better engage with one another throughout the hourlong ride. As you navigate through narrow creeks and shallow bays, you may spot alligators, manatees and birds. Tourists enjoy the ride and appreciate the headsets. Reviewers are also complimentary of the boat captains, who they describe as entertaining and knowledgeable.

Tours depart multiple times Monday through Saturday, although timing may be modified based on the season. Tickets cost $46.99 for adults and $30.99 for kids ages 4 to 10; tickets for children 3 and younger cost $13.99. Everglades City Airboat Tours is located approximately 85 miles west of Miami and 35 miles southeast of Naples, Florida.

Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours – 45-Minute Standard Airboat Tour

Price: Adults from $45; kids from $27.50
Duration: 45 minutes

For an excursion that combines cultural immersion and wildlife viewing, consider this outing from Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours. The Miccosukee family-owned company’s standard tour focuses on introducing visitors to the homelands of the Miccosukee people: an American Indian tribe that migrated to Florida before it became a state. During the tour, you’ll not only see local wildlife, but also will get to see a Miccosukee Indian camp and take a nature walk. Visitors recommend the tour, describing it as an amazing experience thanks to the small, intimate group size.

Tickets for the 45-minute tours start at $45 for adults and $27.50 for children ages 3 to 12. Kids ages 2 and younger tag along for free. Tours are offered daily at multiple times between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The company also offers private outings.

Coopertown Airboats – The Original Airboat Tour

Price: Adults from about $30; kids from about $19
Duration: 40 minutes

Explore 9 miles of the Everglades in search of alligators, turtles, raccoons and endangered birds on this approximately 40-minute airboat tour. The company earns high marks from reviewers for the engaging and experienced boat captains, as well as its proximity to Miami (less than 30 miles west). Reviewers also appreciate the reasonable ticket prices.

Coopertown welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the last airboat of the day leaves at 4:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. Tickets cost $29.95 for adults and $18.95 for kids ages 6 to 11; tickets do not include the mandatory national park entrance fee. Coopertown also operates private airboat tours.

Everglades River of Grass Adventures – Semi-Private River of Grass Airboat Tours Everglades

Price: Adults from $85; kids from $45
Duration: 1.5 hours

One perk of this tour is that it is capped at six to eight travelers per boat. During the approximately 90-minute excursion, you’ll get the chance to see the famous flora and fauna of the Everglades, including herons and alligators. Visitors say this is a family-friendly tour and call the trip “memorable” and “amazing.”

This tour will set you back around $85 per person, although children ages 5 to 12 can come along for $45. These tours run seven days a week; since they’re semiprivate, you must call or email to find out the best times to depart. River of Grass Adventures also offers sunset tours of the Everglades.

Other Popular Everglades Tours

Person in kayak in mangrove tunnel within Everglades National Park in Florida.

(Getty Images)

Shurr Adventures Everglades – Three Hour Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour Small Group Adventure

Price: Adults from $109; kids from $99
Duration: 3 to 4 hours

Enjoy an up-close view of animals and nature, and get some exercise in too, on this kayak tour of the Everglades’ mangroves. As you paddle your way through the mangrove tunnels, you may spot orchids, birds and, of course, alligators. Kayakers say this tour is excellent and appreciate the patient, experienced guides who share a wealth of information about the plants and animals that reside in this unique ecosystem. What’s more, reviewers appreciate that the tours are limited to just eight participants.

Tours are available Monday through Saturday from August to April; times vary by season. Tickets start at $109 per adult and $99 per child ages 7 to 11. (Kids must be at least 7 years old to participate.) Tourgoers will enjoy three to 3.5 hours out on the water but should plan to spend a total of four hours on-site from start to finish. Shurr Adventures Everglades also offers a full-day tour of the mangrove tunnels, as well as a motorboat tour in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Everglades National Park, among other options.

Shark Valley Tram Tours

Price: Adults from $29; kids from $15
Duration: 2 hours

These naturalist-led excursions not only include a tour around Everglades National Park in an open-air tram, they also give tourgoers the chance to explore on foot. Halfway through the tour, participants can climb a 45-foot-tall observation deck to see sweeping views of the surrounding vegetation. During the two-hour tour, travelers also have the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife. Tourgoers enjoy learning about the Everglades from the expert guides and say riding the tram is part of the fun. Many also recommended taking a morning tour to avoid the midday heat.

Tickets start at $29 for adults, $23 for seniors ages 62 and older and $15 for children ages 3 to 12. Note that you’ll have to pay a separate fee to enter Everglades National Park. From mid-December through late April, tours depart on the hour daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. From May through mid-December, tours depart at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. Shark Valley Tram Tours also offers self-guided bike tours.

Everglades Florida Adventures – Ten Thousand Islands Tour

Price: Adults from $40; kids from $20
Duration: 1.5 hours

If you’re hoping to see the Everglades by boat, but want something a little quieter than an airboat ride, consider this1.5-hour cruise. Departing from the National Park Service’s Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades, Florida, this 45-foot passenger catamaran glides across Chokoloskee Bay, into Indian Key Pass and through the mangrove islands of Everglades National Park. Passengers may also see Picnic Key and Marco Island as the boat navigates to the Gulf of Mexico. Tourgoers report spotting lots of birds, turtles, dolphins and manatees. They also call out the insightful crew and clean, comfortable boat as highlights.

Cruises are offered daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; an additional 4 p.m. tour may be available depending on the month. Ticket prices start at $40 for adults and $20 for kids ages 5 to 12; children 4 and younger can ride for free. Everglades Florida Adventures also offers kayak and canoe rentals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Like any other form of transportation, riding an airboat may come with some risks. To stay safe on your Everglades airboat tour, be sure to choose a company run by experienced, professional boaters (most of which undergo special training and are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard) and adhere to all rules set forth by your guide. Parents should keep a close eye on children and be sure they are properly fitted for their life jackets, and all passengers should protect against the heat by wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated. Commercial airboats typically do not exceed speeds of 30 to 40 mph to ensure a safe, smooth ride, and most operators will reschedule your tour in the event of lightning or other inclement weather. Tour companies will also generally provide riders with proper ear protection, as the boats are quite loud.

Typically, passengers will feel the most comfortable in lightweight, sleeveless clothing and shorts while on an Everglades airboat tour. If you are taking a wintertime tour, keep an eye on the weather – pants and long sleeves may be a better option, but you likely won’t need a heavy jacket. Be sure to bring sunglasses, sunscreen and water to protect yourself from the effects of the sun; you may also want a hat to provide further shade and keep hair in place. Passengers with long hair are advised to wear it in a ponytail or bun to keep it from becoming knotted in the wind. Tourgoers may also wish to apply some bug spray prior to embarking on their adventure.

You might also be interested in:

13 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida

Reagan Pool at Ocean Key Resort & Spa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *