What is an Everglades Airboat Ride and How Does it Work?

Before getting on our world-famous Everglades airboat tours, how it works is very simple. Airboat tours
have quickly become the most popular way for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers to cruise around the River of Grass and explore the ecosystems of the Everglades.


If you’ve ever seen a little boat with a big fan on the back, you’ve likely seen an air boat, often used to traverse the Florida Everglades. The giant fan and wooden hulls may seem a little incongruent, but the combination is certainly memorable. You may know them as a different name since one of these boats is also known as a fan boat, plane boat, swamp boat, or even bayou boat.

Airboats, a unique Florida wildlife transportation, are flat-bottomed vessels propelled by an airplane-type propeller and are typically powered by an automobile or aircraft motor. They’re indispensable for airboat adventure, especially for exploring swamps because of their design, allowing them to traverse marshy, shallow waters.


Airboats are used for navigating challenging terrains like swamps and shallow waters. With a flat-bottomed design and a rudder for steering, they’re ideal for eco-tours and exploration. For a unique adventure, take an airboat trip to understand how airboats are used to access hard-to-reach ecosystems, showcasing their unparalleled utility.


While airboats are crafted to skim across water surfaces with speed and agility, traditional swamp boats often rely on a submerged propeller. Swamp boats are often restricted to deeper waterways, but airboats offer greater entry to vegetated and shallow places.

What Engines Do Airboat Tours Run On?

The airboats that navigate the shallow waters on the border of Everglades National Park run on aircraft engines as easily as automotive engines. That’s part of what makes them unique. An aircraft engine comes ready to perform at high torque and low RPM for a lot of strength. Automotive engines have to be adjusted before they can perform as well. The advantage with using car engines is that any mechanic can work on them, and they do not require expensive fuel. As you can see, there’s a little bit of give and take.


A creative and dynamic narrative, the history of airboats is like a thrilling journey. Looking back to the early 1900s, you’ll discover that the first airboats were initially imagined for risky ice and water rescues. Consider historical individuals like Alexander Graham Bell fiddling away, creating the early prototypes that would eventually lead to the cutting-edge airboats of today.

Imagine these airboats developing and gradually becoming the preferred mode of transportation for exploring enigmatic marshes. Their capacity to skim over the shallow marshlands by the 1950s was ideal for the Everglades. Airboats began revealing buried areas of the marshes because of advancements in factors, including engine power, boat shape, and steering techniques. These upgrades not only made for exciting rides, but they also made it possible to conduct crucial environmental studies.

In the 1980s, George Bridges designed a sunshade that went over the top of our airboats. This new design creates a more comfortable ride while still giving every passenger a front-row experience to the Everglades. Today, the family continues to operate this superior airboat design on our tours.


Airboats are flat-bottomed vessels that are propelled by giant fans that are powered by motors. When the propeller is working, it forces air behind the boat, which pushes the boat forward. There are no operating parts beneath the waterline, which is what sets the airboat apart from other boats. Due to the lack of a motor, the boat can quickly glide across the surface of the water, something that no other boat can do. Everglades swamp boats are perfect for low water and swamplands. They are the fastest, most efficient way to get around the 1.5 million acres of various terrains in the Florida Everglades.

The reason airboats are such a popular way to tour the Everglades is because the shallow draft makes it easy to get into exclusive areas that other boats cannot reach. This lets the viewers see animals such as gators, river otters, wood storks, and perhaps even an elusive Florida Panther in their natural habitat. There’s not much that compares to the stunning wildlife of the Florida Everglades.


When you understand our Everglades airboat tours, how it works makes complete sense. Most people get an adrenaline rush when our airboats go at top speeds through the speed trails. Each tour encounters several speed trails, so there will be plenty of excitement on our airboat rides! Remember, there’s only one Everglades and only one way to see it!

When you take Everglades tours with Everglades Holiday Park, you will fly across the surface of the water to quickly explore different habitats within the subtropical wilderness. Journey deep into the Everglades on a narrated airboat tour that lasts for *60 minutes. These airboat tours are safe and exciting for people of all ages, including young children. You will travel through tunnels of mangroves and animal sanctuaries, and your captain will stop to show you endangered species and wildlife. You are likely to run into alligatorseagles, ducks, turkey vultures, and big fish. If you’re thinking of booking Miami airboat tours, consider the professionals at Everglades Holiday Park for a fun and exciting tour through the ‘Glades.


Tour boats and racing airboats aren’t designed for the same purposes, which means they’ll have different capabilities. Racing airboats can reach speeds of 130 MPH. That would hardly be appropriate or comfortable for a family tour, so our airboats tend to max out at 40 MPH to keep our passengers comfortable. The light wind and shade make for a perfect viewing experience.


Yes, but only on specific roads and not without damage to the hull. The more abrasive the surface the airboat is expected to traverse, the more polymer that is added to the bottom of the hull, but it will eventually wear down and need to be reapplied. Airboats really should be kept in the water.

In contrast, a hovercraft uses a cushion of air underneath it, making it possible to travel on both dry land and water with them. However, hovercraft are much more costly, making them less-suited to the Everglades which is constantly full of water.


The first airboat, jokingly dubbed “The Ugly Duckling,” debuted in 1905, ushering in a new method of exploring waterways. Alexander Graham Bell led his team to the great creation that was the first airboat prototype and it was built with an aircraft propeller in the 1900s. The boat was a catamaran-type boat propelled by the aforementioned aerial propeller, with a watercooler engine that weighed about 2500 pounds, and a max speed of 4 miles per hour. Because of the propeller’s rapid rotation, Alexander’s thought was that if it weighed less, the airboat could travel up to 40 miles per hour. The Brazilian aviation pioneer, Santos Dumont, also built similar structures and contributed much to the development of early airboats.

Today’s modern airboats can travel over the water at speeds of up to 35+ miles per hour, providing exhilarating trips that combine adventure with scenery.

Air boats can travel across waters as shallow as a few inches; navigators of shallow water! Due to their flat bottoms, they can enter areas where other boats cannot.

Airboats are used by various militaries as well as border patrols around the world, including the U.S. Coast Guard

Most airboats don’t have brakes. That’s why they need a skilled captain to direct the boat and come to a complete stop while touring the Everglades. Passenger safety has to be top priority.


Experience the exclusive thrill of Everglades Holiday Park airboat tours. Navigate through mysterious mangrove tunnels, spot endangered species, and hold onto your hats during adrenaline-pumping speed trails. A trip to Everglades Holiday Park guarantees an unmatchable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.


We have been providing airboat tours since 1982

  • Our airboats are state-of-the-art and operated by highly trained and experienced airboat captains.
  • Our airboats are maintained and checked daily to ensure optimal riding performance.
  • Everglades Holiday Park airboat tours operate in rain or shine but will return to the docks if the conditions are unsafe (we recommend checking the weather before heading to the park).
  • Each airboat contains a first aid kit.
  • All of our airboats have one life jacket for each person on board.
  • Ear protection is available upon request.

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