Josh laughs as I twist and shove the squishy, orange earplugs into my ears “Eh, that’s good enough.  I may look silly, but at least my ears will be protected from the noise that is to come.”  I glance behind me to see our driver perched up on his seat, and we feel the deep rumble as the engine fires up.  The loud hum and vibrations of the enormous fan takes over, and the boat starts to glide out of the small marina.  We are officially off on our adventure; an airboat ride in the Everglades, Florida.

 

Where Can You Ride an Airboat in the Everglades?

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It’s a beautiful day to go on an airboat ride in the Florida Everglades (and you can see my bright orange ear plugs!).

There are a number of places just outside of Miami where you can take an airboat ride in the Everglades.  We decided to drive to the Everglades Safari Park.  For $23 per adult ($20 if booked online in advance) you can experience a 40 minute airboat ride, plus time to walk the grounds and enjoy a variety of exhibits. 

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Welcome to the Everglades Safari Park – just outside Miami, Florida

What Does Alligator Taste Like?

When we arrived, we purchased our ticket and they said it would be about a half an hour until our group would depart.  So we walked up the to restaurant for some air conditioning, and because Josh said that he wanted to taste some of their “gator bites,” breaded & deep fried pieces of alligator meat which came with a very spicy dipping sauce.  “Mmmm, these are pretty tasty, “Josh says, “they taste a bit like chicken.”  I decided to take his word for it.  I’m not very adventurous when it comes to meat.

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Josh is enjoying some “gator bites” – breaded and fried alligator along with some very spicy dipping sauce!

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen & Bugspray

Then our group is called and we head over to the boat, grab our optional earplugs, and take a seat.  The sun beats down on us on this hot August afternoon, but the airboat skimming fast across the top of the watery marsh helps to cool us by drying our skin from the sticky humidity.  Luckily, we made sure to lather ourselves up with sunscreen.  We also coated ourselves in bug spray, since we didn’t know what kind of flying things would be swirling over this mix of land and water.

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Airboats are ready to go

The boat we are on is huge.  There are multiple rows and the boat could probably fit 30 people easily.  However, our boat is only about half full.  So Josh and I had a whole row to ourselves – which is nice so that we can move back and forth looking out each side of the boat.  Soon we leave the channel and are out into the open Everglades!

The boat weaves back and forth over the water and foliage.   We can see nothing more than the marsh for as far as we can see.  Glancing down in the water we spot some wildlife, and we are able to see some beautiful birds including the Blue Heron, with it’s massive wing span.

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Lucky to see the large wing-span of the Great Blue Heron, as it takes off in the Florida Everglades

The Everglades is an Important Ecosystem

Eventually, our driver & guide stops the boat.  He explains to us the history and ecology of the area.  He tells us that indigenous people used to live out here on the bits of land that stood above the water.  The natives moved about to hunt and gather when the tide would lower, and then would retreat back to higher ground.  We are shocked to hear just how many different types of animals still live out here.  From land animals like foxes, bear, and dear, as well as turtles, alligators, and all the birds; the Everglades is an important ecosystem.

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Peeking down in the water at a soft shell turtle swimming around in the Everglades, Florida

Then our driver takes us through a nearby area slowly, where we were able to catch a glimpse of a couple alligators hiding in their natural habitat; their heads barely poking out of the water!  We also saw soft shell turtles swimming around the boat, and plenty of fish.  As we headed back toward the airboat dock, we continued to move slowly so that we could shift around the boat and carefully scanned the area for more alligators.

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Can you spot the alligator? Enjoying our airboat adventure through the Everglades!

Holding an Alligator

When we finished with the airboat ride, we went to watch a short alligator show.  Instead of wrestling, they showed us how smart gators are; even responding to their own names!  Afterwards, Josh chose to take a picture holding one of the baby alligators.

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Josh holding a baby alligator at the Everglades Safari Park, Florida

Awesome adventure in the Florida Everglades

Overall, going for an airboat in the Everglades, Florida was an awesome experience and definitely something that you should do if you are ever in the area.  The scenery is spectacular and it’s a great way to get close to nature and see some alligators (safely).  It’s fun for the whole family, and although optional, the earplugs do come in handy so that your head isn’t ringing afterwards.

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The beauty that is Everglades National Park

 

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