Naples, FL – February, 2018 Once our guests started arriving in February we began looking for ways to entertain them. One thing on Jim’s bucket list was an airboat ride through the swamp. So when some of our guests showed an interest in this as well we took them to the nearest airboat company which also happened to have very good reviews.
Corey Billie’s Airboat Rides is barely off of Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, just east of the turn to Goodland and the Seminole State Park. I called the afternoon before we wanted to go and their first available reservation for four was at 1 the next day. The tickets seemed a bit steep to me at $40 per person but Jim thought it sounded fair.
We arrived 30 minutes ahead of time as instructed, settled up the bill, and signed liability waivers.
Then we wandered the grounds where they had several chances to see alligators. Right behind their store was a large pond with this monster.
Nearby there was a gentleman handling a 3 foot gator.
Several people were getting their picture taken holding him. I didn’t ask if there was an additional cost for this as I had no desire to touch him.
They also had a tank full of 4 week old babies. He’d pull one or another of them out and pose them.
I bet mama is glad they don’t nurse.
The handler was very informative and entertaining. Soon it was time to make our way to the loading platform and wait for our boat to arrive. Boats were coming in pretty often making the last corner at high speed to give the passengers one last thrill.
We met our driver, Gary. We were given headsets to protect our hearing and a few instructions. Then we were off.
The ride was somewhat thrilling. It seemed pretty fast, around 30 mph we were told, and I did often wonder if our driver was going to pull off a turn without us careening into a tree or the grass. The headset insulated you from the noise and the ride was very smooth so it didn’t seem terribly exhilarating to me.
Considering it was a loud course with boats passing by often, I was surprised how many birds there were.
We stopped often and the driver entertained us with stories, information, and jokes. We spotted some gators but most were a good distance away.
It is, thankfully, against the law to feed alligators so there was no incentive for them to get closer to the boat. At the “swimming hole” we had several fish jump in our boat. Clearly beaching themselves on our raft was preferable to what was trying to eat them under it.
At one stop the driver offered to take pictures of our group with each passenger’s camera.
One of the most popular stops was in the middle of a mangrove where our driver stopped and called out. Soon this cuddly pair appeared.
They looked pretty young and well accustomed to handouts. Obviously there are no rules to protect them from being fed marshmallows.
The ride was around 45 minutes. It was a great way to entertain our guests for a couple hours. We may try it again someday with future guests. We’ll likely visit another vender just for variety.