When you are visiting certain destinations there are some things you just have to do. For instance, zooming through swamp land on an airboat while in South Florida. Despite Papa and Grams’ objections, I booked one of these adventures on our last visit to Naples. I had some apprehensions too, I mean some gnarly creatures live the swamp and I have small kids! But, we did and loved it! Everything went great and it ended up being the highlight of the trip. So, if you are a worried parent too, here is what you should know about Everglades airboat tour with kids.
Journey to the Everglades
As we drove deeper into the country and further away from the comforts of Naples, even I questioned my big airboat adventure. With every mile I could feel the tension rising in our red minivan. Finally, we saw the turn off for Totch’s Everglades Island Airboat Tours. As I was unloading the kids, Grams caught site of the airboat and almost had a heart attack. She is not big on adventure and with a daughter like me; she is forced into some crazy situations. Oh well.
“This doesn’t look safe.”
“You aren’t seriously taking the babies on this!”
“I can’t do this.”
Those were just some of the panicked complaints Grams had as we made our way to meet our captain. The sweet and sensitive daughter that I am, I kindly demanded my mother it get in the boat and promised her a cold beer if she behaved.
Meeting Captain Browne
I slathered my babies in SPF 50 and fastened them into their lifejackets. Always thinking about how my photos will look, I picked out the brightest lifejackets I could find. For Firecracker, I chose a pink Barbie vest and for Cuddle Bear, I chose a red Hawaiian flower vest. I stepped back, satisfied with how my babies looked for their airboat adventure.
“Is that a little boy?” I heard the slow southern twang of our captain.
“Yes it is,” I responded proudly.
“Then why is he wearing a girl’s jacket?” He slowly questioned.
“It’s Hawaiian print!”
Captain Browne, searched through the life-jacket trunk and tossed me a blue faded shark vest.
“Here, let’s man this boy up. Poor little feller.”
Finding Captain Browne’s candidness hilarious, I opted for the shark vest and loaded our family on to the airboat.
On an Airboat!
If you have never been on an airboat, they are very interesting with a flat top and no railings. I was little worried about my kids trying to jump off and worried that booking the hour tour might have been a bad idea, but the trip turned out to be wildly entertaining; keeping the kids engaged the entire time.
Ahhhh! Moments after leaving the dock the largest pelican I have ever seen landed our boat. I didn’t realize that this was all part of the airboat experience. As it crept closer to my Cuddle Bear, I freaked out. Yes, HotMama, the person who forced everyone on the airboat was the first to scream. Captain Browne probably thought we were a bunch of California freaks the way we were all yelping and hollering. I thought the pelican, which was the size of a toddler, was going to try to snap up my son. Needless to say, it didn’t and we all just looked ridiculous.
HotMama Tip: Don’t panic when the giant pelicans land on your boat.
After cruising by some manatees, Captain Browne kicked it into gear and took us on a wild ride through the swamp! Again, this was my first time, so the speed was a bit shocking. As we zipped through the narrow channels, tilting sharply with every turn, I took the opportunity to snap a photo of everyone’s face.
My parents were as predicted; Papa was chilling while Grams was terrified. HotDaddy and Firecracker are thrill-seekers so they were embracing the wild ride, with big smiles spread across their faces and hands in the air. I clung to Cuddle Bear as he went comatose. An automatic reaction whenever he is faced with fear. Hey, at least he isn’t a cry baby. I’ll admit I was a little nervous. I mean I didn’t want us to tip over. There are alligators in this water and my babies are delicious.
Captain Browne slowed down to a stop so we could observe a family of raccoons. They got close. Like really close. The up-close and personal encounter with jumbo racoon fascinated the kids. I was a bit apprehensive, but still managed to click those shots.
Then our captain took our boat to the middle of the water and invited Cuddle Bear and Firecracker to take the wheel. Yup, toddlers at the controls this sounds safe.
Firecracker jumped in the captain’s chair and gladly took us for a spin. Literally, she went in perfect circles. Around and around and around.
Next was Cuddle Bear, but he was still in his comatose state. He really just sat there and looked at us like we were all crazy. Maybe we are.
Unfortunately the water was too salty for the presence of alligators, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get to see them. Once back at the dock we met up with Craig, whose family owns Totch’s Everglades Island Airboat Tours, introduced us to some scaly friends. Cuddle Bear was not down to hold the little alligator, but Firecracker took her photo opportunity. Even Grams seized the moment and held the gator.
That’s A Wrap!
After our wonderful airboat adventure we headed off for grub and beers as I promised. By recommendation we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Seafood Depot, overlooking the Everglades. We recounted our wild day over cold beer and gator nuggets.
Papa and Grams actually thanked me for forcing them on the airboat. Even though everyone fought me on this activity, it turned out to be everyone most favorite! The kids had a blast and still talk about it to this day. Sometimes we just need a little adventure and an airboat tour through the Everglades is a great one for kids and grandparents! To see more about our time in Naples, see HERE.
Have you ever been on an airboat? Where?
Is it something you would like to do?