When you think airboat rides in Florida, it’s usually the Everglades in the southern part of the state that come to mind. But central Florida is where the Everglades actually begin and is home to lakes and marshy areas perfect to show off the natural side of Florida – only minutes from the area’s biggest attractions and theme parks.
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides has operated in this area since 1994 (and added a second Kissimmee location in 1996), offering over twelve airboats and a variety of tours to take parties of various sizes out to explore the wetlands. Family run by Margie and Chris Long, each airboat ride offers the opportunity to see some of Florida’s wildlife out in their natural habitat.
I had the opportunity to take a 30-minute airboat ride while on a trip to Kissimmee recently, and it was such a fun experience. Our group shared a large airboat with several other customers and we were fortunate to have both Margie and Chris taking us out. Ear protection is provided (and necessary), as the airboat is quite loud when it moves quickly through the waters, but the operators are skilled at knowing where and how to spot wildlife and getting the boat in quite close. We saw a baby alligator that none of us would have noticed without Chris pointing it out – the little guy was so well camouflaged that he was hard to spot even when we knew he was there. Other wildlife we spotted on that trip included several species of birds, but each trip is unique and you never know exactly what you’re going to see.
The boat cuts through the marshy swamp grass channels with ease, and even on our cool, overcast morning it was wonderful to feel the breeze and the spray. The airboats are extremely maneuverable and the flat bottom ensures that the boat doesn’t get caught up in the vegetation as you pass through.
This was an experience that I am so glad I was able to have, and it was hard to believe that we were right in the Orlando area – their East Lake location is only minutes from the airport and within a half hour of our airboat ride, I was waiting in line at security to catch my flight home to cold, snowy Michigan.
Here are just a few of the photos (and a short video) that I took while on the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride – see if you can spot the baby alligator!