As the southern part of the sprawling Orlando metropolis, Kissimmee is your gateway to the remarkable natural world located near the theme park fantasy of Orlando. In many respects, the Florida Everglades does what no amount of imagination can – it brings you the sheer surprise and thrill of a natural world that we ourselves are part of. That kind of connection makes for some extraordinarily memorable encounters. And by adding in the thrill of an airboat gliding over the swampland, you’re likely to get an adrenaline boost that no rollercoaster can match.
The flat, brackish wetlands around Kissimmee are home to an abundance of wildlife. You’re almost certain to encounter caimans and alligators. And given that alligators are pretty near the top of the food chain (barring us humans, of course), you can guarantee there’s plenty of wildlife on all the rungs below that to sustain them. There are lots of great airboat and swamp tours from Kissimmee, so we have narrowed the list down for you a little, bringing you the best five based on many considerations, such as the value for money, tour duration as well as the reviews of previous guests.
FROM: $32/per person
By far the best value tour on this list is the Boggy Creek airboat. It’s ideal for those who want to experience the wind on your face as you glide over the water at speeds of up to 45mph, without being exposed out there for too long. Coast past cypress swamps and tall grasses, on the lookout for wildlife like alligators, turtles and birds. For optimal wildlife viewing, morning tours are best during the warmer months, while in colder months, afternoon tours are better. Life vests and hearing protection are provided to each person, as is the case with every tour on this list, and tours depart regularly. Please note that this particular airboat tour does not operate on Mondays.
From $56/ per person
There’s so much to see and experience out in the Florida Everglades that many people prefer longer airboat adventures. And naturally, the longer you go, the deeper into the wilderness you can travel. This hour-long airboat ride focusses on the swamps around Shingle Creek, not only providing time to explore the natural beauty, but also to learn more about the Native Americans who coexisted with the region for centuries. You will also hear about the first European settlers and their efforts to carve trails and towns into the wetlands here. Nowadays, part of the allure of an airboat tour is the stark contrast to the urban sprawl that dominates Central Florida between Tampa and Orlando. This airboat tour operates daily.
From $59/ per person
For many of the airboat operators in the Central Everglades, urban development has gradually reached and surrounded their base of operations. However, further south from Kissimmee, tours around the wild Cypress Lake – such as this one – are as yet untouched by any of that. From start to finish, this 30-minute airboat tour allows you to be out in the wild and over the water, without having to worry about navigation. As with all airboat rides, there’s a good chance you’ll get wet, particularly if you have a cheeky airboat operator, who likes to take the airboat for a spin. Literally! This tour also includes entry to the Wild Florida Wildlife Park, a drive-through safari with giraffes, camels and zebras.
From $89/ per person
For many people, the longer the airboat tour, the better. And while many of the registered Florida airboats only head out into the wilds for 30 minutes to an hour, this excellent option is ideal for those who just can’t get enough. Head out onto the marshes in the search for gators, turtles and eagles with your guide, who’ll be able to offer greater insight into the region’s ecology and social history, as well as offering a trained eye when it comes to spotting creatures in their native environment. Better yet, while most airboat tours often taken larger groups of 17, this one is capped at six people, so provides a more personal service.
From $68/ per person
When the sun goes down, the swamps often come alive, particularly in the warmer months, when it’s too hot during the day to be active. This one-hour airboat tour heads out into the swampy Everglades when the gators are becoming more active, during the hours of sunset and beyond. Heading out onto the wetlands at this time can be extra special given that added sense of isolation. Preceding your airboat tour, your ticket also includes entry to the Wild Florida Wildlife Park, with a drive-through safari, an aviary and even hands-on alligator demonstrations.