I can’t remember the first time I saw an Everglades airboat tour featured on TV, but it remained on my mind as a to-do travel item. Couple that with the fact that the Everglades are in danger of disappearing and I knew we needed to get there SOON. So while researching our stay at Fort Myers Beach, I realized just how close we were to the Everglades and Mr. Yoder Toter and I were sold on adding it to the itinerary.
We stayed at the south end of Fort Myers beach, making the Everglades region only 60 miles away. There are numerous airboat companies around and I really just perused TripAdvisor and read 10-15 reviews before picking a couple to call and price. I was impressed by the customer service of Captain Mitch‘s and I’m glad we chose their tour!
Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tour offers a one-hour ride from their base outside of Everglades City. They charge $40/adult and $20/child over 5 (Another reason to travel while your kids are YOUNG). We found a coupon for $3 off per person from a local tourist guide. While the Everglades water was “high” while we were visiting at approx 18 inches deep, Florida State Law requires tour operators to provide life jackets for all of the children.
Our tour was led by Captain Mark. The airboat ride was 1/3 adventure -skimming quickly over the water and through the mangroves, 1/3 scenic tour- moving slowly to look for wildlife or stare at the alligator Mark spotted and 1/3 asking questions of someone who was born and raised locally. These three items combined for a very memorable 60 minutes! My favorite part was hearing about how Captain Mark hunts frogs and alligators and how he almost lost his leg from an infected gator bite — even after he poured bleach into the wound?!?! What?! There’s nothing like a local yarn to make the tour more enjoyable!
After the airboat ride, the group was led into the company building for an “alligator show” where Mark brought out a 2-yr-old farm raised alligator and let any willing tour members hold the alligator while he answered questions. My husband was much more keen than I, but I did hold the small reptile, who snapped at me!
Jerk! The kids thought we were regular Crocodile Dundees at this point, haha, so we ended our time by getting them each a souvenir stuffed alligator (for $5 and change it was the cheapest souvenir we could have hoped for!) and a tee-shirt for Mr. YT.
If you go:
- The “Captains” do work off of tips, so plan accordingly with having cash available. We had to go back to our van for cash and almost missed out on giving Mark a tip!
- YOU NEED BUG SPRAY (or some crunchy option for insect repellent)! They did offer some at their gift shop, but it’s nice to have your own. We chose OFF! family care and it worked okay on our kids –Unfortunately the bugs enjoyed Jackson’s face- where I didn’t spray. 🙁
- Capt Mitch’s did offer earplugs (for $) but they wouldn’t stay in the kids’ ears. We took turns holding C and covering her ears. I don’t see any lasting damage, but if you have noise-canceling headphones for your little ones, I would bring them!
- The thing I love about Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours was that they departed from their location on the Tamiami Trail. We went into Everglades City after the tour and the companies that leave from there go through a much further No Wake Zone and skim by houses on their way to the swamplands. Something to consider!
Have you been to the Everglades region of Florida? Did you go on an airboat tour? Maybe you’ve heard of someone cleaning a wound with bleach?!
**I was not contracted or paid by Capt. Mitch’s boat tours, this is just my honest opinion of my family’s day out. This post contains affiliate links.
And FYI- no airboat tours are located within the boundaries of Everglades National Park. The Park bans them because they believe they endanger the wildlife and ruin the grassland.