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Swamp Tours New Orleans

Which Tour Is Best for You?

Updated: December 13, 2023

This post is a review of the best New Orleans swamp tours available to you, including airboat tours, canoe, and kayak trips as well as nighttime and free options.

Since 2010, we have operated walking tours in New Orleans, serving tens of thousands of visitors to the city each year.

And, many of our guides bring groups from New Orleans to the 3 main swamps around New Orleans.

We see the good, the bad, and the exceptional of all of the swamp tour companies out there.

An in this video, Andrew, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot New Orleans, goes over everything you need to know when considering one.

And the number one question we get asked is whether a swamp tour is worth it or not.

The answer is most likely a resounding yes.

Just check out what some of the roughly 40k members of our New Orleans Travel Tips Facebook Group have to say.

Aside from alligators, the swamps are teeming with wildlife, including wild boars, raccoons, snakes, bald eagles, herons, egrets, mink, and turtles.

Another highlight of these excursions is the flora and fauna, particularly gliding through the moss-covered cypress trees.   

And if you are considering adding a swamp tour to your itinerary, then you will quickly see that there are many companies to choose from as well as options to explore the swamps.

Most swamp tour companies operate in either the Honey Island Swamp or the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, both of which are between a 30-45 minute drive from the French Quarter.  

Click on the map to enlarge it.

A couple of others operate in the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, approximately 30-minute drive west of the Quarter.

You could choose a flat-bottomed swamp boat, which is the most common option. Swamp boats can accommodate between 15-28 people. 

Large Swamp Boats New Orleans

Or you can go on an airboat tour, which is a smaller, faster boat with a large fan attached to it. 

Airboat Swamp New Orleans

Alternatively, you can go by kayak or canoe or you could even go on a hike. 

There is even a nighttime swamp tour that operates on Thursdays through Sundays from June through September.

TIP: If you are considering the New Orleans Pass or the Sightseeing Pass, tourist discount cards, then keep in mind that both include swamp tour experiences at no additional cost. 

You may also be interested in our review of plantation tours as well as riverboat cruises.


There are numerous companies offering tours of the surrounding swamps via swamp boats.

A flat-bottomed boat generally carries approximately 22 people, though some offer smaller (and more expensive) swamp boat tours.

Large Swamp Boats New Orleans

Expect to pay at least $20/adult and $13/child (though there are occasional discounts) if you drive up to the swamps on your own.

If you add hotel pick-up, then expect to pay at least $42/adult and $21/child for transportation from downtown New Orleans.

Tours last approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, and this is consistent among all companies.  

These large boats offer an easy and relatively affordable way to experience Louisiana's bayous and swamp. 


New Orleans cajun encounters

This company is probably the largest most well-known and best-reviewed outfit. They operate in the Honey Island Swamp.  

They are our choice for an operator because their size means that they usually can fit you in.  

They use 22 passenger swamp boats for their public tours and have 10 passenger swamp boats for private bookings.

They offer online booking, which is not something that many other companies offer (which we find annoying).  

They also offer a seasonal night swamp tour from May through September.

They will pick up from just about any hotel in downtown New Orleans. They have an excellent review profile, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.

Read our post reviewing all of Cajun Encounters tours.

Tour Start Times:

If you choose to be transported, then the pick-up times are as follows:

Pickup TimeTour TimeReturn Time (appr.)
8:00 – 8:30 am9:30 am12:45 pm
10:15 – 10:45 am12:15 pm3:40 pm
1:15 – 1:45 pm2:45 pm6:00 pm
3:30 - 4:00 pm5:00 pm (seasonal)7:45 pm
6:00 - 6:30 pm7:30 pm (seasonal)10:00 pm

NOTE: The 6 pm tour may not be available at all times throughout the year.


  • Self Drive-Up:
  • With Transportation:
  • Child tickets are for 3-12 years old.
  • 2 and under are free.

Cajun Encounters also offers combo tickets that combine swamp, plantation and city tours.


Like Cajun Encounters, this company is focused on swamp and bayou tours.

Cajun Pride is unique from other companies in that they operate in their own private swamp, which they claim means that your boat will be alone on the water.

Cajun Pride Tours

In addition to their large swamp boats (28 passengers), they also offer a smaller boat (16 passengers).

They have a good review profile on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (see the reviews).  

Since their tours are the Maurepas Swamp to the west of the city, this company may be a good option for those who are also planning a trip to one of the plantations.

One bonus is hotel pick-up from most New Orleans hotels.  

Read our detailed post reviewing all of Cajun Pride tours.   

Available in English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.

Ticket Prices (online prices are shown)

VIP Small Boat Tour (16 passengers)

Ticket Prices (online prices are shown)

  • Without Transportation
    • $50 - Adults
    • $30 - Child (4-12)
    • Not Currently Available
  • With Hotel Pick Up
    • $70 - Adults
    • $40 - Child (4-12)
    • Not Currently Available

Read our detailed post reviewing all of Cajun Pride tours.   

Tour Start Times

  • Daily all year @ 9:30 am, 12 noon, + 2:15 pm
  • 4:15 pm runs March 1 - October 1

Cajun Pride does offer a number of other great tours, including a combination ticket for $105 for Adults and $60 for Children where you get a swamp tour and a visit to either Laura Plantation or Oak Alley Plantation. 

Learn more about Oak Alley Plantation at Oak Alley Plantation Tickets, Tours, and Reviews.


Much like its competitors, this company operates in the Jean Lafitte Swamp, providing swamp and airboat rides around the area.

They offer their tours with or without transportation to and from the departure point, allowing you to save money by using your own car if you'd like.

Their prices are comparable to most of the other options on our list and they offer a total of 4 tours per day (10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM & 4 PM).

The main advantage of choosing this service is that their children's tickets are very affordable.

  • Without Transportation
    • $29 - Adults
    • $12 - Child (under 13)
    • Purchase.
  • With Transportation from French Quarter
    • $52 - Adults
    • $26 - Child (under 13)

TIP: This tour is available for free with transportation from the French Quarter with the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.

If you plan on doing a lot of different things in the city, this could be a great way to save money on a swamp tour.


This outfit also focuses on just swamp and bayou tours. As their name makes clear, they operate in the Honey Island Swamp.  

They claim that they use small swamp boats, but they appear to use the standard 20-passenger swamp boats. They provide two options, drive-up and hotel pickup.

They also have a good review profile.  

***Online purchases are only possible on Viator***  If you visit Dr. Wagner's website to book, you will need to fill out a form to request a tour and they will call you to confirm.  

They appear to only accept cash or checks and not credit cards.

  • Without Transportation
  • Transportation from the French Quarter

Tour Start Times

  • Daily all year @ 9 am, 11:30 am + 2 pm
  • Departures from New Orleans are 7:45 am and 12:30 pm.
  • 4:30 pm runs seasonally


Gray Line is a national brand with a licensee in New Orleans. Gray Line offers tours with large swamp boats as well as airboat tours.

They only offer tours with transportation from the French Quarter, which depart from their ticket office on Toulouse St. and the Mississippi River (map). 

There are no hotel pick-ups.  

They have a very good review profile.

Swamp and Bayou Tour Prices

This product is also part of their Swamp/Plantation combo ticket

Departure Times

  • Nov 1 - Dec 31 - 11 am & 1 pm Daily
  • Jan 1 - Feb 29 - 11 am &  1 pm Daily
  • Mar 1 - Oct 31 - 8:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm & 2:45 pm Daily
  • Nov 1 - Dec 31 - 10:45 am & 12:45 pm Daily

Additional Companies:

Ultimate Swamp Adventures

If you are considering purchasing the New Orleans Power Pass, keep in mind that this company's swamp tour is included in the price.  

It only includes the tour and not the ride to the swamp, which you could arrange with Ultimate Swamp Adventures for an additional $15.  

Cajun Critters

Like the other companies listed above, this company offers 2-hour swamp boat tours. This outfit heads into the Jean Lafitte Swamp, due south of the French Quarter.  


There are a few companies that offer airboat tours; They are faster than swamp boats and can be more thrilling, but they are more expensive.

The biggest advantage of airboat tours is that they are usually smaller than swamp boats and therefore can get deeper into the swamps, especially when the rivers and bayous are at low tide.

There are restrictions on who could take these tours, including pregnant women, children under 5, and those who are physically disabled or have neck or back problems.

We include a few options below, but for a full comparison, read our post on airboat tours in New Orleans.

Louisiana Tour Company

Unlike its competitors, this company offers services both with or without transportation to the departure point.

If you’re looking to save money on travel expenses, this might be your best bet. 

We like that they offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before tour time.

Some of their airboat tours include hotel pick-up as well.

This is easily one of the most affordable and popular airboat tours on our list, and they operate only 35-40 miles outside of downtown New Orleans.

Duration w/ Transport: 3 ½ - 4 hours.

Large (up to 16 passengers)

Small (6-9 passengers)

NOTE: This company also offers a selection of combo packages which include tickets to plantations and tours of New Orleans. 

With a rating of between 4 ½ - 5 out of 5 stars on both Get Your Guide and TripAdvisor, it’s pretty clear that most people really enjoy the service provided by this company (read reviews here).

Guests indicate that their tour guides are very friendly and informative, providing a lot of details about the swamps and bayous in the area and giving customers a great look at the wildlife.

Visitors also appreciate the thrill of traveling through the swamps at incredibly fast speeds.


This outfit operates in the Jean Lafitte Swamp. They offer drive-up and hotel pickup pricing.

Like many of the swamp tour companies, they seem to not take online bookings directly.  

Prices online are not consistent, and it looks like their drive-up price for a large air-boat is the cheapest on Viator. They receive excellent reviews.


Self-drive to swamp

  • $59 - per person for large (up to 25 passengers) (book here)
    • This price is only for their 9:45 am tour.
  • $89 - small airboat (book here)

Hotel pick-up

  • $79 - per person for large
  • $109 - small airboat
  • Hotel pick-up is run by Grayline.
  • Book online here.

Departure Times

  • 9:45 am
  • 12:00 pm
  • 2:00 pm
  • They offer a seasonal 4 pm and 6 pm tour
  • Hotel pickup times are approximately 1 hour before the listed departure times.

Other Companies Offering Airboat Tours:

  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
  • Big Easy Swamp Adventures
  • Cajun Style Swamp Tours


Arguably the best way to explore the swamps and bayous around New Orleans is in a kayak or canoe.

No other method can get you deeper into the swamps than by small craft.  

However, you will lose range, as you will not have the benefit of a high-speed engine.  

And if you are concerned about the danger of alligators, you shouldn't be. Alligators avoid humans unless confronted and surprised.  

Kayak and canoe tours are usually a bit more expensive than swamp boats, but cheaper than airboats.

New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours

With an experienced guide at the helm, New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tour offers picturesque 2 – 2.5 hour narrated kayak trips through locations such as Manchac Swamp, the Pearl River, Honey Island Swamp, and Cane Bayou.  

Groups of 2 - 12 are easily accommodated, with private tours available for larger groups.

Prices start at $59/person, and transportation can be arranged when booking, for an additional fee ($20/person roundtrip from two locations in the French Quarter, or $40/person round trip from your hotel or other specified location)

Tours currently launch at 2 pm and 4:30 pm, and your guide will notify you via email or cell of the launch site. New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours.

Canoe and Trail Adventures

Rated 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor! Enjoy a 2-3 hour kayak or canoe tour through one of the last undeveloped bayous that feed into Lake Pontchartrain, while getting immersed in the ecosystem of Louisiana.

Locally owned and operated, your tour fee includes kayak/canoe rental, safety gear, waterproof cases (for phones/cameras/bags), light snacks and water, and an experienced guide.   

Groups average 10 paddlers, although larger groups are welcome – please contact the company directly for private tours and discounts.

Prices are $65/Adult and $49/Child (6-12).

Transportation is usually available to/from New Orleans for $15/person, but it is currently either not being offered or very limited in availability.

Tours go out Monday, Wed, Thurs, and Friday at 10 a.m. (for those needing transportation) and 11:00 a.m for those driving.

Tuesday tours are at 11 a.m. and do not include transportation.  Canoe and Trail  Tel 504-233-0686 

Additional Companies:

Wild Louisiana Tours

Offering 2 – 3 hours of “Manchac Magic” kayak and canoe tours, experienced tour guides will lead guests on a relaxing, educational journey down the Manchac wetlands.

Discover the bayous and waterways that many of New Orleans' founding fathers explored, and examine the ruins of Ruddock, LA, a now-deserted logging community. 


Kayak - Iti - Yak offers a 2 and 3-hour daily tour of Bayous St John and Bienvenue, as well as a 4-hour “Pontchartrain Paddle,” guaranteed to burn off all those beignets! Tel  985-778-5034

Jean Lafitte National Park Service

While canoeing and kayaking through the Park are definitely great ways to explore this area, the Barataria Preserve in Marrero is currently impassable, due to the overgrowth of aquatic vegetation.

Be sure to check the Park's website for more information. Tel 504-589-2133


An extremely cost-effective way (if you have a car) to experience the swampland near New Orleans is to take advantage of the National Park Service, which leads hikers through the Barataria Preserve, a southern unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve located about a 30-minute drive south of the French Quarter.  

The Park Services operates a visitor center with exhibits highlighting the development of the swamp area.  

You can pick up self-guided maps here and join a regularly scheduled park ranger hike from here.

You can also pick up self-guided maps to explore on your own. A description of the hikes can be found here.

Barataria Preserve Unit, 6588 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072 (map) (504) 689-3690 (ext. 10)

In addition to this option, you can also visit Bayou Sauvage for free and see a lot of incredible native species.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service provides both a map of the bayou and a list of the types of birds you can see in the area.

Whether you're interested in bird watching or you want to see other animals such as alligators, this is a wonderful opportunity to get a close look at local wildlife in their natural habitat.

You'll find Bayou Sauvage just east of New Orleans, but if you want to experience the natural beauty of Louisiana without leaving city limits, consider a trip to City Park.

Visitors are welcome to check out the Couturie Forest for free.

You can expect to see various types of native birds, trees, and fish in a location that has several trails for walking and hiking.

About The Author

Sarah Hester

Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history. Read More... Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!
Updated: December 13th, 2023
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