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Coopertown Air Boats - Miami Beach

Coopertown Air Boats

Coopertown Air Boat Ride

As I was saying in the previous tip, for as long as I can remember, I have dreamt of visiting the Everglades and seeing the 'sea of grass' first hand. So we headed along highway 41 in search of a place to do just this.

The first Air Boat place we came to was Coopertown, which claims to be the home of the 'original air boat tour'. I had read some good reviews on Coopertown prior to our trip, so we decided to see what they had on offer.

A friendly welcome came our way and we were told that we could take a ride in about 10 minutes time, as they were just setting up for the day. While we were waiting, we had a look at some of the resident alligators.

Then it was time, and Alex and I jumped on board a small Air Boat, along with 2 German tourists, and our friendly captain/guide. The large fan started up and I was very pleased to have bought my ear plugs as it is VERY loud. They supply you with cotton wool if required.

We started off slowly cruising along the swamp, birds taking off in our path, then we picked up speed as we came to the 'sea of grass' and before long we where skimming across the (water logged) grass at a great pace. After a while we slowed down again and entered a more swamp like area where we started some serious alligator spotting, along with turtles and numerous bird species.

We were lucky to see about a dozen alligators, including one big one that came right over to the boat to have a closer look at us. A couple of birds also hitched a ride with us for some parts of the trip.

We stopped at intervals, and the guide gave us lots of information about the Everglades and the flora and fauna around us. It was very informative and very interesting.

The ride lasted around 40 minutes, and at 18 USD each, I thought it was great value. It really was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Afterwards we got to hold a baby alligator - it was a lot softer than I imagined it would be, though I thought it wasn't wise to give it a kiss!

11 miles west of Florida Turnpike on U.S 41

Other Contact: coairboat@aol.com

Phone: (305) 226-6048

Website: http://www.coopertownairboats.com/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 2, 2006
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'gator on the footpath - Miami Beach

'gator on the footpath

Everglades National Park

When I was a little girl I used to watch a TV programme called 'Gentle Ben', which was about a family who lived in the Everglades National Park, as the father was a park ranger. Every episode they would jump in their Air Boat and fly across the water/grass to save the day.

Ever since, I had dreamt of visiting the Everglades myself and seeing the 'sea of grass' first hand. So of course, this was top of my list of things to do on our trip to Miami, as the Everglades are only 40 miles from Miami Beach.

You can arrange a tour to the Everglades from Miami, or the other option is to hire a car (or drive your own of course). We hired a car for the day and headed off in excited anticipation. We made our way to highway 41 (aka the Tamiami Trail) which runs right along the edge of the National Park.

Our first stop was at Coopertown Air Boats where we got to get out into the Everglades - full information in the next tip.

Then we continued on to the Shark Valley visitors centre. It cost us 10 USD (per car) to enter. Here you can find out more information about the Park and get up close with some of its inhabitants. Only a few metres from the car park we saw several varieties of birds - including some nesting babies, with their parents fishing nearby.

Taking a short walk away from the centre, you can see lots of alligators sunning themselves on the edge of the swamp....some on the pedestrian footpath! At one stage a large alligator just walked right across the path in front of us....I was a little nervous to be so close to these large reptiles, but it was quite an experience.

From the visitors centre you can hire bikes to do a tour, or jump on the tram tour, which lasts for 2 hours and takes you on a trip deeper into the Everglades for some serious flora and fauna spotting.

The whole area is teaming with wildlife - even when driving down the highway we had to swerve to miss turtles, and I could see alligators in the waterway to one side of the road....maybe not the best place to stop for a roadside picnic!!

Website: http://www.nps.gov/ever/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 2, 2006
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