By Kai Rambow
Startled by our airboat, a raccoon burst out of the marshy grasses and bounded for shore. This is one of the fun surprises of taking an airboat ride; you won’t know what you’ll see on your ride. On our trip we saw snail kites, bald eagles, herons, cranes, alligators, deer, raccoons and cows almost shoulder deep in the water. Farmland borders this end of the lake and the cows like to wade into the wetlands and eat. They were also casually sharing the tree line with deer.
Airboats glide smoothly over the shallow, swampy waters allowing you to get close to wildlife. Sometimes when you see a solid looking clump of grasses in front of you, it’s hard to remember your airboat captain can see where there’s water.
Easy Location for Us
Several readers have commented on how difficult it is to find a decent airboat ride. We’ve found one for you. Boggy Creek at Southport is beautifully set up for your adventure. They have two locations, but this is the one you’ll want for several reasons.
While there are several airboat outfits in the Kissimmee area, most are a bit of a travel challenge for us. Boggy Creek’s Southport location avoids most of the traffic and congestion in the Disney area.
There is a beautiful setup here with a restaurant, gift shop, gator area, gem/fossil dig and native village. So, if you arrive a little early there are things to do and see. And when you finish with your adventure, you can recharge by trying some gator bites or having a meal.
A delightful surprise is the native village. Natives have lived in this part of the county for over 12,000 years. Little Big Mountain, a fourth-generation dancer, singer, and educator gave a fun presentation on native culture. “That’s what we call the TV tribe,” he explained in response to a question. On our visit, Little Big Mountain was building a dugout canoe using only native tools and techniques.
Recommendations for Options
Boggy Creek offers 30, 45 and 60-minute airboat rides. Navigating the options can be a little challenging. Here are some thoughts to help you choose the one right for you.
The 30-minute trips can give an introduction, but can feel too short. The 45-minute trips are on six passenger airboats. So, it’s a more intimate experience and more expensive. Neither one of these requires reservations.
The 60-minute trips seem to be just about right. When you head back, you feel ready to return. These require a reservation and you need to check in 30 minutes before.
Timing really depends on the weather. Take a look at the forecast and pick a day with weather that works for you. Remember it will feel cooler when you’re out on the water.
Tips for a Great Trip
Timing: Boggy Creek operates 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. As we head into cooler months, this is a great day trip. During the winter months, you more likely to see wildlife with their young. During the warmer months, when it is hot and humid, alligators will spend most of their time submerged to keep cool.
Clothing: Sunscreen and sunglasses are very important. You might want a light jacket for cooler days on the water.
Driving: Drive time is 90 minutes, but plan on two hours in case you encounter traffic. Better to arrive relaxed for your adventure than stressed.
Take the I-4 to exit 58. After cutting through some suburbs, you’ll be traveling through the countryside. GPS will be helpful in a few spots.
Dining: Boggy Bottom BBQ is an onsite restaurant with interesting and good menu choices at reasonable prices. Gator is on the menu – here’s your opportunity to be the apex predator.
Prices: Thirty minute tours start at $27.95 + tax; one hour excursions are $44.95 + tax per person.
Airboat Rides at Boggy Creek
2001 E. Southport Rd.
Kissimmee, FL 34746