With its toothy alligators and mangrove-filled swamplands, the Florida Everglades is rife with uniquely American landscape and folklore. At Big Toho Airboat Rides, visitors can speed through the storied wetlands aboard airboats powered by brawny aircraft engines. From their perch, they'll search for glimpses of the area's famous wildlife, keeping eyes open for eagles, osprey, and deer donning rain boots. They'll also witness large Florida alligators in their natural habitat, even posing with a smaller alligator for a memorable photo op.
There’s nothing like skimming across Lake Tohopekaliga’s surface, propelled by a 500hp fan. That’s the thrilling experience offered by the Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours, which drift in the gentle marsh to catch sights of great blue herons, 12-foot alligators, snails, and other native creatures. All the while, your guide will provide expert information on the lake and the surrounding terrain, plus help you spot the wildlife.
While other tour guides pack groups into 12-passenger boats, Wild Willy’s keeps it passenger numbers low to reduce weight and increase speed. Up to six guests can board one of the airboat, which sail past reeds and Spanish moss before. Afterwards, you can take pictures with resident baby gators Thunder and Half-Stripe in the visitors’ center. And safety is a major focus at Wild Willy’s—guests should arrive 15 minutes before their tour time to receive a Coast Guard-required talk about safety.
Established: 2010 Reservations/Appointments: Required Staff Size: 2?10 people Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours Pro Tip: We have a network of fishing guides that keep our clients on the fish. Handicap Accessible: Yes Recommended Age Group: All Ages
After spending their youths on the sea sailing, water skiing, and fishing, Cynthia and Jay realized they were in very real danger of spending their adult lives behind the desks of corporate jobs. So, when they got the chance to re-immerse themselves in the aquatic world by buying an inland marina at Lake Fairview, they jumped at it.
Today, they and their team of certified instructors lead sailing experiences on that glassy blue expanse and rent a wide assortment of seafaring vessels. They pile visitors in pontoon boats, two-person pedal boats, kayaks, and sail boats to navigate the lake for on-water picnics and fishing expeditions. Should renters get hooked on the experience, the staff can happily help them purchase new and used sailboats, fishing boats, runabouts, and ski boats. For land-based celebrations, their tiki hut-style gazebo, complete with a panoramic view of the lakeshore, accommodates guests during company retreats, birthdays, and lake monster sting operations.
Captain Brent Sheppard, the owner of Razor Fin Fishing Charters, started out fishing largemouth bass. But once he caught a 46-inch redfish at the age of 10, he knew he couldn't go back to just freshwater fish. Nowadays, you'll find him aboard his 18-foot flats boats in Mosquito Lagoon or the Indian River, where at times the water is just 18-inches deep. If you're with Captain Sheppard, you'll be searching the shallows for redfish, tarpon, snook, trout, and Poseidon's footprints. There's no need to bring any licenses, tackle, or bait because they're all included, and the captain adapts to specific styles of fishing, from pros to those who want to see if fish really do exist.
Owner, instructor, and personal trainer Dan Case loads up the roof of his boat with a fleet of standup paddleboards. On his small boat, he's on his way to Ponce Inlet Intracoastal waterways with groups of up to seven. When they've reached their requested destinations, clients get to paddle through the mangrove trails, keeping an eye out for local wildlife such as manatees, dolphins, and Bear Grylls hiding in a tree. Inexperienced paddlers can take lessons on the placid waters of Lake Killarney, and more experienced visitors can try their hand at surfing or standup-paddleboard yoga.