Which Everglades tour is the Best
The Florida Everglades represent the largest subtropical ecosystem in the United States, and they are home to a variety of flora and fauna that you won’t find anywhere else. Anyone can go to a zoo and see animals from exotic locales, but it’s a lot more exciting to actually see them in their natural habitat. With that in mind, we’ve decided to compare and contrast some of the most highly rated tours of the area. Whether you’re hoping to find out more about swamp tours or airboat tours, we’re going to take a closer look at the companies providing these services in order to help you make the right choice for the best possible experience.
Most of the tour companies that visit the Everglades are located along HWY 41, just outside of Miami, Florida. A short drive outside of the city could take you to some truly amazing places. Some tours specialize in taking you close to alligators in the wild, while others focus more on the natural beauty of the environment. No matter what you want to see, chances are that these businesses will offer the experience of a lifetime. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to find when you start looking for a tour of the Everglades.
PUBLIC AIRBOAT TOURS
The Florida Everglades are a very wet place, so it’s typically necessary to use airboats in order to get around. Because of this, you will find a lot of different airboat tours in the area, including some offered by amusement parks. Prices will fluctuate between $20-$40 per person on average, but depending on the length of the tour, you might even find a few that cost upwards of $80 per person. Most tours last between 45 minutes and two hours, but some include other activities such as alligator wrestling and nature shows, adding substantial value to your ticket.
- Gator Park Airboat Tours
This is an example of an airboat tour that offers more than just a ride on an airboat. Each ticket pays for admission, an airboat tour of the Everglades and an alligator wrestling show. This option is definitely going to be popular for families, at it allows them to participate in a variety of different activities. They offer online booking and are located just off of HWY 41.
Gator Park has earned 4 stars on TripAdvisor and Yelp. The most common complaints have to do with the length of the tour and the alligator wrestling show, which will not appeal to everybody. Thankfully, you don’t have to stick around for this part of the tour if you find it bothersome.
- $19.99 for Adults ($24.99 at the gate)
- $12.99 for Children
- Children under 5 ride for free
- Order Tickets Here
- 9 AM – 5 PM Monday-Sunday
- Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours
Owned and operated by a native Miccosukee family, you can rest assured that these tour guides know their way around the Everglades. That being said, these tours focus more heavily on getting you up close to the gators than they do on the natural beauty. After the thrilling experience, you can visit their gift shop or get a bite of authentic Native American cuisine including gator nuggets.
This Everglades airboat tour is located a bit further out from Miami than the rest, but it is a highly rated experience, even if it does only last 45 minutes on average. Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours has a 4 ½ star rating on Yelp and a full 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. There are only a few negative reviews, and most of them complain about the departure times for each tour. If this sounds like the kind of tour you would enjoy, make sure to get there early in order to avoid missing the last departure.
- $27.50 for Adults
- $13.75 for Children (6 to 10)
- Children 5 and under ride for free
9 AM – 4:30 PM Monday-Sunday
- Everglades Safari Park Airboat Tours
Once again, with this tour you can expect a bit more than just an airboat ride. Each ticket guarantees a 30-40 minute airboat tour, a wildlife nature show, jungle trail and other exhibits. See a variety of different exotic animals including alligators, birds, turtles and more. If you order your tickets on their website, you can save money on adult admissions into the park. This is more of a family friendly location, but the price is definitely right and there is plenty to experience at Everglades Safari Park.
With a 3 ½ star rating on Yelp and 4 stars on TripAdvisor, this location has not been as popular among tourists as others on our list. Most of the complaints had to do with the size of the airboats, as they use a larger craft than other locations. Larger airboats don’t travel as fast and they make it difficult to see the wildlife unless you’re sitting on the outside edge. Take this into consideration before making your choice.
- $25 for Adults ($3 off online)
- $12 for Children (5 to 11)
- Children 5 and under ride for free
- 9 AM – 4 PM Monday-Sunday
PRIVATE AIRBOAT TOURS
A private airboat tour is obviously going to be more costly than anything offered to the public, but you’ll also get personal attention from your tour guide. Unlike the public option, private tours typically last a lot longer and you’re given more of an opportunity to actually learn valuable information about the Everglades. If you’re more interested in learning about the nature of this subtropical location, you will want to consider spending a little bit more to secure a private airboat tour. Most of the public airboat services provided above will also do private bookings as well, but some companies specialize in private tours. Here are a few notable private airboat tours in the Florida Everglades.
- Airboat USA
Although they offer an option to share a ride with other passengers, Airboat USA specializes in private tours that can last up to 2 ½ hours long. They can be a bit costly, but considering the amount of time you get to spend out on the water, it’s a pretty good deal. If you want to get away from the crowds and experience the Everglades on your own with a knowledgeable tour guide, this is an excellent option. If the typical “tourist” locations for families aren’t your style, this airboat tour is exactly what you need to get away from it all.
With a 4 or better rating on both TripAdvisor and Yelp, Airboat USA is one of the higher rated companies on our list. Most of the negative reviews are related to mistakes made with coupons and scheduling problems. The lesson to take away from these reviews is that you are better off scheduling several weeks in advance and preparing to pay the price they ask for. Remember that every tour you plan to take in the Everglades will depend on the weather, so it’s probably best to schedule your airboat tour during peak season (Nov-Apr).
- $30 per person for a shared 1-hour ride
- $200 for a private 1-hour tour for 2 people ($25 extra per person)
- $250 for a private 1 ½ hour tour for 2 people ($25 extra per person)
- $300 for a private 2 hour tour for 2 people ($25 extra per person)
- $350 for a private 2 ½ hour tour for 2 people ($25 extra per person)
- Private Airboat Tours can be scheduled at almost any time during the day. Call Airboat USA for more information.
- Everglades Nature Tours
If you’re looking for a private airboat tour that will be more educational than the rest, Everglades Nature Tours may be the highest rated service out of the bunch. Their tour guides are very knowledgeable and will teach you all about the flora, fauna and wildlife that you can expect to see in the Florida Everglades. This is a perfect choice for anyone who wants to both see alligators in the wild and learn about them from a professional. You’ll have to pay a premium to get the experience of a private tour, but it’s well worth the price.
This location has a full five star rating on both Yelp and TripAdvisor, making it one of the most trusted tour companies in the area. Reviewers typically report that the tour guides are very well versed and entertaining. A lot of people swear by Everglades Nature Tours and some have even said they would give the company 10 stars if it were possible.
- $171 for a private 1 hour tour for 2 people
- $276 for a private 1 ½ hour tour for 2 people
- $381 for a private 2 hour tour for 2 people
- $44 per each additional adult passenger
- $28 per child (ages 6 to 12)
- Children under 5 ride for free
This will vary depending upon availability and when you book your private tour. Call Everglades Nature Tours for more information.
SWAMP BUGGY TOURS
If you’re looking for a more educational adventure into the Everglades, consider going on a swamp buggy tour. Swamp buggy tours can last longer than airboat tours, and tour guides often provide more information about the local wildlife. Many tour companies in Miami offer swamp buggy tours in addition to their other activities, but some actually specialize in this type of tour. There are no guarantees that you will see a lot of different animals, but you’ll probably learn quite a lot about the area. Depending on the length of the tour, you can expect prices between $25-$150 per person.
- Captain Steve’s Swamp Buggy Adventures
Captain Steve is a knowledgeable tour guide who will show you what the Florida Everglades are really like. According to National Geographic, Steve is an authorized Big Cypress Preserve outfitter, so it’s safe to say that he knows what he’s doing. Most of his tours last a full half-day, but you can organize private swamp buggy tours that actually last all day. Captain Steve also offers stargazing campfire tours for those who want to experience the Everglades after dark.
As if the press weren’t good enough, reviewers on TripAdvisor and Yelp have given Steve over four stars on average. As with many other tour businesses, most of the negative reviews were based on what time of year the visitors took the tour. If it is the dry season, you might have to get out of the buggy from time to time in order to get closer to the wildlife. In these cases, you should dress accordingly to make sure that your clothes do not get dirty or wet.
- $120 per person
- $450 for private tour (up to 6 people)
- 9 AM and 3 PM rvery day. Call ahead to make reservations for private swamp buggy tours.
- Wooten’s Everglades Swamp Buggy Tour
This swamp buggy tour is only one of the activities provided by Wooten’s, so it’s going to be a lot less private than something like Captain Steve’s tour. That being said, their swamp buggy tours are highly rated and very informative. During this swamp buggy tour, you’ll take a trip through the Cypress forest and discover a lot of historically and environmentally relevant information about the Everglades. Unfortunately, these swamp buggy tours only last 30 minutes, but they’re still a lot of fun.
Reviewers were far more kind on TripAdvisor than on Yelp, where the business received 3 ½ stars. When it comes to the reviews for Wooten’s, let’s just say that guests have mixed feelings. A lot of visitors enjoy the Airboat and Swamp Buggy tours, but not many people enjoy the zoo area or other attractions. Thankfully, Wooten’s seems to excel in the area of swamp buggy tours, so this is at least one activity that you’ll more than likely enjoy at their location.
- $24 for Adults
- $20 for Children (age 4 to 12)
- $2.50 for Children (age 4 and under)
- 9 AM – 4:30 PM Monday-Sunday
- Captain Jack Swamp Buggy Tours
Much like Wooten’s tours, Captain Jack provides many more activities in addition to their swamp buggy tours. Once again, you can expect a tour that will last roughly half an hour, and the prices are also fairly low. Experienced tour guides will point out all of the various flora, fauna and wildlife that is unique to the Florida Everglades. In addition to every tour, you’ll also receive free admission to their animal sanctuary, making this an excellent option for any family.
Just as with Wooten’s reviews, most of the negative responses were related to other attractions. When it comes to Captain Jack’s Swamp Buggy tours, most visitors are very happy with what they get. If you aren’t interested in the zoo or other activities, it’s best to avoid them and stick to their swamp buggy and airboat tours. Remember to dress appropriately and book your excursion during the right time of year.
- $62.65 for Adults (save $2.75 when you order online)
- $42.50 for Children (save $2.50 when you order online)
- $2.50 for Children under 4
- 9 AM – 5 PM Monday-Sunday
If Airboats are a little too fast and a swamp buggy tour doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in, a serene kayak tour through the Everglades might be just the experience you need. These Everglades tours are all about taking in the natural beauty of the area and getting as close to the environment as possible. With the right guide, kayak tours can be a wonderfully informative activity. Prices can range from between $50-200 per person, and they can last several hours.
- Tour the Glades Kayak Tours
While airboat tours take a quick look around the Everglades, this kayak tour prides itself on providing a slower glide through the mangroves. Learn more about the delicate ecosystem of this beautiful subtropical climate zone by paddling through the grass prairies with an experienced tour guide. A standard kayak tour with Tour the Glades can last between 3 and 4 hours long, providing an up close look at the flora and fauna in the Florida Everglades.
This is only the second listed tour company that had a full five star rating on both TripAdvisor and Yelp. Many of the positively glowing reviews have great things to say about the tour guides, who are apparently very attentive, intelligent and entertaining. To put it bluntly, there really aren’t any negative reviews of Tour the Glades, so it’s a pretty good bet that you’re going to have a great time on this kayak tour.
- $99 for Adults
- $60 for Children and Teenagers (age 7 to 17)
- Children 7 and under ride for free with an Adult
- 7 AM – 9 PM Sunday-Saturday
- Everglades Area Tours Guided Kayak Tours
Described as an “eco tour,” Everglades Area Tours specializes in providing a fun and educational experience. Experienced guides will take you on a 3 ½ to 4 hour kayak tour where you will learn more about the wildlife and plant life in the area. If you’re looking to really get out on the water and start seeing more aquatic life such as dolphins and manatees, this is an excellent opportunity that you won’t want to pass up.
Everglades Area Tours is highly rated, although it has a higher rating on Yelp than TripAdvisor. There are very few negative reviews, and the company makes sure to respond respectfully to each and every complaint in order to address the problems and make sure that their visitors are happy. At the very least, even if you do end up experiencing them on their worst day, their attentive service will take care of any issues you may have.
- $149 per person
- 9 AM and 1:30 PM Departure times
HIKING AND WALKING TOURS
There are a lot of hiking trails in and around the Everglades. If you’re looking for some more affordable fun, these trails will take you through some of the more scenic and beautiful areas of the Everglades National Park. One of the easiest trails to access from Miami is the Shark Valley bike trail. If you want to go for a hike, it might be wise to make the trek to Homestead, Florida, where you can access the Flamingo and Pine Island hiking trails. For those who want to learn about the wildlife and the plant life in the Everglades, you’ll want to think about paying for a professionally guided hiking or walking tour. Here are a few tour companies that provide these services in Miami.
- Everglades Nature Tours
In addition to a variety of other tour options (such as the private airboat tours listed above), this company also provides Everglades walking tours that will take you right into the wilderness. If you want to get really close to the natural beauty of the area, these walking tours could even take you into the water. Of course, if you plan to do what they call a “wet walk,” you’ll want to bring a change of clothes for the ride home. These walking tours are highly rated and last between 1 ½ and 2 hours. You can schedule a private walking tour or take advantage of their cheaper semi-private walking tours instead.
As mentioned above, Everglades Nature Tours has a full five star rating with the major review sites. When it comes to the nature walks, some reviewers report having a lot of fun wading (sometimes thigh deep) in the waters of the Everglades. Others report that during the dry season there isn’t much walking in the water, so your experience could vary in this area. Either way, reviewers have said that they learned a lot from this walking tour, and some have even called it a “memorable” experience.
- $33 for Adults / Semi-private tour
- $23 for Children (age 7-12) / Semi-private tour
- $108 for private 1 ½ hour tour for two
- $186 for private 2 hour tour for two
- April 1st-October 31st: 7 AM
- November 1st-March 15th: 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 2:00 PM and 4:30 PM
- Semi-private tours are daily at 2 PM
- Clyde Butcher’s Eco-Swamp Walk
If you really want to get close to nature and experience the swamps of the Everglades up close, you’ll want to consider Clyde Butcher’s Swamp Walks. During a two hour excursion, a knowledgeable tour guide will take you through the natural beauty of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Alternatively, you can also take part in a three hour Photo Safari that will take you by some of Clyde’s favorite spots, allowing you to take some truly breathtaking photographs.
This tour is located much further out from Miami than others, as it is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve. It might take a bit longer to get there, but reviewers on TripAdvisor have given the experience a full five star rating. There are no negative reviews of Clyde Butcher’s swamp walks, so as long as you’re willing to make the trip out to see him, this tour is probably well worth the time and money invested. We’re talking about a swamp walk tour that was featured in the New York Times, so it’s a pretty good bet that you’re going to have a great time.
- $380 for up to 4 people / Eco-Swamp Walk
- $600 for up to 4 people / Photo Safari
- Eco-Swamp Walk: 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM daily
- Photo Safari: 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM daily
- Call ahead to make reservations for either tour
OTHER TOUR OPTIONS
If you don’t want to visit one of the many tourist locations in the Everglades that offer airboat tours, swamp buggy tours and walking tours, perhaps you’d be better suited to a Tram Tour. Shark Valley Tram Tours is a highly rated experience on both Yelp and TripAdvisor which will take you around the Everglades. From the Tram tour, you can experience some of the wildlife and plant life that lives in the area while comfortably seated. The vehicles are equipped with observation decks, allowing you to really get a look at what the Everglades are like.
There are many other tour opportunities in and around the Everglades National Park, but a lot of them are located further away from Miami, Florida. If you feel comfortable with going out on your own excursion on one of the many public hiking/walking/biking trails in the area, that option could be more affordable. In addition to being less costly, some reviewers of the tours listed above have reported seeing more animal life on their own self-guided tours throughout the park than they saw at some of the above tourist locations. Whatever choice you make, it’s important to dress appropriately and prepare for the environment you are going to enter; be safe while you’re having fun out in the Everglades!