The 6 Best Airboat Tours Orlando Has to Offer!
The 6 Best Airboat Tours Orlando Has to Offer!
“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.” – Lovelle Drachman
Of course, Orlando is best known for its world-renowned theme parks and themed hotels. However, it’s a shame that not many Central Florida visitors know that Orlando also boasts access to some of the best natural areas in the country. We’re talking about miles and miles of marshes and everglades just a short drive of Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and downtown Orlando. Exploring the headwaters of the Everglades is a bit tricky since a conventional boat’s propeller can easily get stuck in the marshes.
Best Airboat Tours in Orlando
Honestly, the best way to explore the headwaters of the Everglades is via an airboat, which is actually even more fun because airboats are capable of traveling at high-speeds and airboat adventures provide both thrills and educational opportunities about Florida’s unique ecosystem and wildlife dynamics, as well as ongoing conservation efforts. Below are some of the best airboat tours in Orlando that you and your family should definitely add to itinerary during your next Central Florida vacation getaway.
1 | Airboat Rides at Westgate River Ranch | Believe it or not, just an hour south of Orlando lies Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, an authentic Florida dude ranch that offers a myriad of outdoor recreational activities, including thrilling airboat ride adventures. The 40-minute-long airboat rides on the scenic Kissimmee River allow you to glimpse Florida’s diverse wildlife such as alligators, turtles and bald eagles. Westgate River Ranch also features luxury Glamping opportunities, including 35-foot-tall Luxe Teepees, if you wish to enjoy an extended stay and take advantage of all the onsite amenities here such as horseback riding, trap & skeet range, swamp buggy rides, a thrilling adventure park that includes ziplining and rock climbing, a spectacular Saturday night championship rodeo and much more!
WHERE: 3200 River Ranch Boulevard, River Ranch, FL 33867 | WHO: 863-692-1321
2 | 90-Minute Airboat Everglades Adventure Tour | As the name suggests, the Everglades Adventure Tour will last around 90 minutes for a nice opportunity to view the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. The beauty of this specific package is that every airboat only accommodates six people. It will give you a more intimate experience as you explore the Florida Everglades. Also, the Everglades Adventure Tour provides an excellent option if you don’t want something that’s too crowded. Another benefit of the limited capacity is that you’ll have a better view of the scenery. You’ll have a good and comfortable look at Florida wildlife such as alligators and bald eagles. The company also provides you with everything you need to have a comfortable and enjoyable trip such as ear protection, which is a big help as the boat engine produces a lot of noise. Bimini tops offer sun protection. There’s also a life jacket for each passenger. Lastly, if it happens to rain during the trip, the airboat tour company will provide you with rainwear.
WHERE: 2830 Neptune Road, Kissimmee, Florida 34744 | WHO: N/A
3 | Florida Everglades Airboat Tour and Wild Florida | If you’re on an extended Central Florida vacation and wish to head south to Miami for a daytrip (approximately 3 and ½ hour drive), the Florida Everglades Airboat Tour provides another excellent airboat adventure that allows you the opportunity to explore the Florida Everglades. The exciting part of the tour is that you have the option of visiting the onsite wildlife park as an added bonus. The wildlife park houses more than 200 different animals such as bobcats, watusi cattle, zebras, sloths, lemurs and more. It covers approximately 13 acres, which is pretty good for a company that primarily offers airboat tours. On top of that, there’s a tropical bird aviary that you can visit. Another thing that’s different about this tour is that you have the option of having lunch in the park. And, it’s not just your a typical kind of meal. The park offers a delicious barbeque, which is a perfect complement to the weather in South Florida. Lunch is served at the onsite restaurant known appropriately as the Chomp House Grill. The airboat ride itself explores the Florida Everglades and a full tour allows you to explore 4,200 acres of scenic rivers, marshes and swamps. Like most airboat tours in South Florida, the trip includes an alligator-handling show. You don’t want to miss that one as seeing active alligators is not for the faint of heart.
WHERE: 24050 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33194 | WHO: 800-559-2205
4 | Wild Florida Airboat Rides | Located in Kenansville just southeast of Orlando, Wild Florida Airboat Rides features a different kind of airboat experience as the tour starts with an airboat glide over a marsh-lined river. Then, you’ll be taken into the swamps and Everglades. The entire trip is far from boring, with so many exciting things to see along the way. Majestic bald eagles and fierce alligators are only some of the many species that you can see while you experience this amazing tour. What makes Wild Florida Airboat Rides different among Central Florida airboat tour companies is they have an animal park that houses more than 200 species of animals from around the globe. Of course, you can choose to explore the animal park before or after your boat tour. Wild Florida Airboat Rides features a four-hour tour, which is then followed by a 60-minute or 30-minute boat ride. You can drive to the park or you can arrange to take the company-provided transport, which will pick up guests at designated meeting points. Like most airboat tours in Florida, the Wild Florida Airboat is also family friendly so you can take the kids along with you. It’s also an excellent educational experience for the little ones. As an added bonus, the entire tour is accessible via wheelchair.
WHERE: 3301 Lake Cypress Road, Kenansville, FL 34739 | WHO: 407-957-3135
5 | Crystal River Tour | Looking for a Florida airboat tour with a West Coast flavor? The Crystal River Tour offers guided cruises, mostly in the Crystal River, which lies about 90 minutes west of Orlando. What makes this tour different is that you’ll be able to view manatees in their natural habitat. In fact, the Crystal River and the surrounding area is a natural habitat for these gentle marine mammals. Believe it or not, you also have the option to swim with the manatees if you so desire. The tour also brings you to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Aside from the resident manatees of the park, there’s also a chance to see alligators, panthers and even black bears. Furthermore, breakfast and a picnic lunch are also included with the fee. The boat ride tour will explore some parts of the scenic Withlacoochee River. Each boat will have a narrator to guide you through all the sights and sounds of the trip. The airboat tour will take around 30 minutes. There’s a boat cruise that you can also experience that highlights the local manatees. If you are interested in swimming with the manatees, then you’ll be pleased to know that the company also provides snorkeling equipment.
WHERE: 469 N.E. 1st Street, Crystal River, FL 34429 | WHO: 352-586-5259
6 | Boggy Creek Adventures | If you want an airboat adventure that adds additional exciting activities to the experience, then the Boggy Creek Adventures is an excellent option. The airboat tour typically lasts 30 minutes, and you’ll be discovering the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. As always, keep your eyes on the marshes as an alligator may pop up its head at any time. After the airboat trip, you can then head to the 70-foot mine for a unique prospector gem mine experience. Furthermore, it’s fun for all ages, so you should definitely bring the kids along. All the fun activities in Boggy Creek Adventures will likely make you hungry. Worry not as there’s the onsite Boggy Bottom BBQ, which provides indoor and outdoor seating and genuine Florida-style barbecue. The sandwiches are simply amazing, and you have plenty of options such as beef brisket, steak and cheese, grilled chicken, BLT and pulled pork. The fee also includes a Native American Presentation. And yes, it’s a live show. Also included in the price is a meal voucher. Last but not least, you also have the option of checking out the Alligator Oasis.
WHERE: 2001 E. Southport Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746 | WHO: 407-344-9550
Use Our Handy Map to Find These Top Airboat Tours In The Wild!
Last Tips on the Best Airboat Tours in Orlando and Beyond
As you can see, an Florida airboat trip is a different kind of outdoor adventure. Hence, there are certain aspects that you don’t know yet that can significantly impact your experience.
Below are a few tips to keep in mind:
Check Airboat Tour Availability: Be sure to call the company before heading out. Most attractions in Orlando only operate during certain days of the week. Also, an unscheduled closing is not very uncommon due to the unpredictable weather conditions in Florida. The last thing you want is to prepare, get excited and find out that the place is closed.
Use Earplugs: An airboat is powered by a huge fan that propels the boat forward. It’s a fast way of maneuvering through the swamps and Everglades. However, the engine can be very noisy. Hence, be sure to ask if the airboat tour service provides you with earplugs. In many cases, they do provide ear protection, but it’s still best that you ask so you can bring your own if they don’t.
Bring Plenty of Water: Orlando features high temperatures and humidity. If you are not used to this type of weather, it can sometimes be very draining. The best way to combat such a climate is to drink plenty of water. Most importantly, you will want to drink water at regular intervals, even if you are not thirsty.
* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.