In many ways, the airboat is the distinctive boat of Florida. Though they were invented in Canada, airboats first appeared in America nearly 100 years ago.
Ever since then, they have been used to explore the unique environment of the Everglades and have become synonymous with natural Florida.
In fact, it is difficult to reach many spots in the Everglades, Lake Kissimmee, and the St. John’s with anything other than an airboat.
How Airboats Work
What makes the airboat special is that it does not have any underwater steering or propulsion parts. A large propeller inside a cage powers the airboat forward, and the pilot uses rudders to direct the column of air and change directions.
The boat itself is a long, light, shallow structure that sits on the top of the water. This makes it easy for the propeller to push the boat forwards, since it can skim across the surface rather than cut through water like other boats.
It takes considerable skill to operate an airboat, since there is no mechanism to stop or reverse the boat.
Airboats are perfectly suited to exploring Florida’s nature at its best. Lake Kissimmee is home to a lot of marshes, sloughs, and other wetland environments.
Boats with underwater propellers or deep hulls cannot access many of these areas without disturbing or destroying the habitat and getting stuck in the shallows. Lake Kissimmee has a similar environment with many swamps and shallows that are inaccessible by other boats.
What is there to see on an airboat tour? In addition to the striking scenery of Florida’s unique wetlands, airboat tours offer up-close looks of the native animals of the area like alligators, exotic birds, deer, and even buffalo!
An experienced airboat pilot with deep knowledge of their environment will be able to take passengers close to these animals in their natural habitat, which is an increasingly rare opportunity.
Lake Kissimmee Airboat Rides
When it comes to airboat tours, you can’t do better than Grape Hammock’s. Our guides, Captain Kevin and Captain Barrett, have lived on Lake Kissimmee all their lives and have a deep love and respect for the area.
Come experience natural Florida through the eyes of those who know it best with our airboat rides!