** Because we are traveling less frequently these days, I thought I could share some interesting stuff about Florida. What better way to promote my home base right? I don’t need to travel out of state or out of the country to be able to come up with inspiration for my blog because I already got tons of fun-tastic Florida faves lined up for you!
You can check out my first post about Florida here.
In the meantime, another fun-tastic activity to do while in Florida not Disney related is going on an airboat ride.
What exactly is an airboat?
Wikipedia defines it as: “An airboat, also known as a fanboat, is a flat-bottomed vessel propelled in a forward direction by an aircraft-type propeller and powered by either an aircraft or automotive engine. Airboats are a very popular means of transportation in the Florida Everglades, parts of the Indian River Lagoon, the Kissimmee and St. Johns Rivers, as well as Louisiana Bayous, where they are used for fishing, bowfishing, hunting, and ecotourism, and in other marshy and/or shallow areas where a standard inboard or outboard engine with a submerged propeller would be impractical.”
Another interesting fact is that the airboat was first built not in Florida or the rest of the southern marshy states but in Nova Scotia, Canada by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Hello?
So whenever you see a flat bottom boat with a huge fan in its behind, you now know it is an airboat.
I first rode one in the Everglades National Park in South Florida. There are many airboat operators offering different tours which may or may not include other wildlife shows and exhibits. It is also important to know that majority of the park is considered a wilderness area and is off limits to private and commercial airboats so only a small section of the park and some adjacent non-park lands are used for the tours.
The next few times of my Florida airboating experience were done at Camp Holly, a mere stone’s throw away from where we live. Every time we have guests, we try to make sure to bring them here for an authentic old school style Florida activity.
I personally think Camp Holly’s airboats were much more fun and exciting and faster than the one we had at the Everglades. Maybe there are speed restrictions since it is a National Park, I don’t know. All I remember on the Camp Holly rides is the thrill I get every time the boat twists and turns as it navigates its way on the water. It is much cheaper and closer to home too so that by itself is a no brainer.
The boats go along the St. John’s River, the longest river in Florida and one of the few in the United States that flows up North. Various wildlife and plant life thrives here abundantly so naturally, sight seeing is the main attraction apart from the experience of riding the airboat itself.
Of course, the alligator is the “king of the river” and all the other animals are but secondary to this fierce beast. I once saw a smaller alligator being eaten by another alligator. It happened so fast that at first I saw this swimming alligator and the next thing I heard was a loud snap and water splashing and then a piece of carcass was seen floating where the alligator was. Cannibalism live in action. Ugh.
Certain times of the year around spring is the best time to see these animals for mating season. We went in March and I swear we saw more than ten gators, I lost count! We even saw a gator’s nest.
Before going on a ride though, be aware that it can get really loud from the noise of the machine. Most operators provide you with ear muffs, ear plugs or noise reducing headsets. The driver stops at intervals though to be able to talk to you or answer any questions you might have. Also, being in Florida, the weather can change any time so be prepared for rain. If the weather gets really bad like a thunderstorm, they will turn back. Another important thing to remember also is that you will be riding along a marshland with weeds, grass and sometimes trees so bring a mosquito repellent. And sunscreen for that hot Florida sun. Duh.
Lastly, bring a sense of fun and style to your airboat experience. Like my gorgeous friend from New York.
Have you ever been on one? Wasn’t it an adrenaline pumping experience too?