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What You Should Know About Everglades Airboat Tour With Kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids
CuddleBear got cut off from the pic. Such a lil guy.

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

Our Reaction

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids


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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

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.

Everglades Airboat Tour with kids

Have you ever been on an airboat? Where?

Is it something you would like to do?


I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".


  1. I like your writing! I’ve always wanted to travel to the Everglades but I haven’t made it there. It sounds like one heck of an excursion!

  2. Pingback: Naples with Kids |

  3. I have never been on an airboat, but I have seen them on CSI and always thought I would like to try it some day!

    • They are really fast and I would forget they are flat bottom, so it would freak me out when it would zoom over branches sticking out of the water.

  4. When I was a child there was a TV Show where a little boy and his father crossed the Everglades in an airboat. Since then that I dream of doing it too. Your tour look great, but your mother’s didn’t look like she was having a great time 😉

    • Haha. Yeah, it was something I had always wanted to do too. My mom is a stress case, so she was freaked out the whole time. Afterwards, she couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was. That’s why I push her.

  5. This is the 1 thing I didn’t do at the Everglades when I visited last winter so it’s interesting to read your thoughts – sounds like I missed out! The Airboat Tour sounds awesome, your little one is so brave to have held the alligator! Wonderful photos too, always love seeing families out & about having fun 🙂

    • Yeah, I had missed doing it the few previous times before when we were in Florida, so I really pushed for it this time. I’m so glad we just did it, because it was so much fun.

  6. I had so much fun reading through your blog! You are very detailed about the experience you have had. Very vivid. This is something that my parents also used to do with us – taking us to small trips to different states and to other parts of the world. Those are memories we cherish and always keep. How wonderful and beautiful that you took your kids and your family with you to have this memory with them, thank you for sharing.

    • What a sweet comment! Thank you for reading and enjoying. I hope I am giving my kids precious memories to hold on to forever.

  7. I really enjoyed your article HM! I think it’s great you walked through the fear of sliding (as we call it)! It’s great that they thanked you for pushing them through the experience afterwards. Any plans for more sliding in your future?

  8. We are celebrating my son and husbands birthday down there this month. I had NO idea they were that expensive! $350 for 1.5 hour ride? Did you use a coupon or pay that much? I am 6 months pregnant as well and I REALLY want to do it!! Do you think they will frown upon that? LOL

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