A Guide to visiting the Everglades, Miami

by ilive4travel

Published on Jun 22, 2019

After 4 days in Miami Beach and driving from Key West I arrived at the Hoosville Hostel in Florida City, a hostel with a big outdoor area, pancakes for breakfast, free wifi and nice big dorm rooms, as I was out of season it was very quiet and on my second night I had the dorm room to myself.  I love it when that happens, though it’s very rare.  That night I spent my time planning what I would do when visiting the everglades the next day in the Mexican restaurant next door.

Where are the Everglades

The Everglades are in southern Florida, close to the city of Miami.

What are the Everglades

The Everglades are a region of tropical wetlands in south Florida.  It is made up of coastal mangroves, pine flatwoods and sawgrass marshes.

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Everglades Airboat Tours

As I was going to the everglades I wanted to do one of the airboat rides in a small boat and I decided to do this in Everglades City, which is around a 1 hour 45 minutes drive from Homestead where I was staying but the company I went with are the only company that go through both the mangrove jungles and grasslands, Speedy’s Airboat Tours.  If you want to do one of the everglades city airboat tours then you would probably be best staying in Naples the night before as it is only a 45 minute drive away.

 

I got there met our pilot and off we headed, as we set off from the marina we saw an alligator in the water, the only one we would see on the trip.  As it was a cloudy and cold day I was told the alligators would not be out sunbathing so we were lucky to get to see one.

We also saw a mother and baby dolphin swimming around.  (Not the best shot, after 4 years you would think I would know exactly how my camera works!!)

We then put our ear muffs on, increased our speed and headed through the Mangrove Jungles.  This was great fun, our pilot put his foot down and threw us around corners, I loved it.  I would definitely recommend you do an airboat tour during your time in Florida.  It’s best though if you can do it on a sunny day as then many more animals will be out that you can see.

After the mangroves we then headed through the grasslands which are an amazing site, we didn’t see any more animals on the tour but by then the adrenaline was pumping.

After the tour the company recommended a drive down Turner River Road, it’s a few miles from the turnoff for Everglades City and it’s a 21 mile scenic gravel road, with a canal alongside the road, where you can see lots of alligators hanging out.  It does not cost to go here and definitely worth the drive to see lots of alligators if like me you didn’t really see many on the airboat tour.

Everglades National Park Entrance Fee

The Everglades National Park entry fee is $30 for a private vehicle, $25 for a motorbike and $15 an individual.  If you are planning on visiting a few national parks, then consider getting the annual pass at $80.

About Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park was established as a park in 1934 and became a national park in 1947 to protect the southern 20% of the everglades.  It was the 21st national park in the US.  It also became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

Everglades National Park Hours

The Everglades National Park is open every day all year, though the hours of the different visitors centres can vary.

Visiting Everglades National Park

Shark Valley

After my boat trip I then headed to Everglades National Park and the Shark Valley entrance.  The gate is open from 8.30am to 6pm though the visitor centre is only open from 9am to 5pm.

There are 2 options to see the area here, either hiring a bike or doing a tram tour as it’s a 15 mile circuit. The 2 hour Tram tour costs $27 for anyone 13-61, if you go in high season then it’s best to book your tickets online in advance to guarantee there is space on the tram.

As the clouds had arrived and rain was looking inevitable, I decided to go with the tram option, which when the rain arrived I was relieved not to be cycling around.  The tour was great and they kept stopping and showing us different birds, alligators & snakes.  Halfway we stopped at the observation tower to get a great view of the everglades.  It is 45 feet high and the views from there are amazing.  It is a gentle walk up to the tower though you can go higher up the stairs in the centre.  This you have to do as you can see for miles.

The Tram tour is definitely worth doing unless you have the weather and time for the bike ride.

Planning to a trip to the USA and wanting to know some travel destinations? One of the most popular North America Travel Destinations is Florida. It is one of the great US Destinations to do a USA Road trip and the everglades florida is a place you cannot miss. Everglades National Park one day will be packed, with an everglades airboat tour, seeing the everglades wildlife, the everglades alligators and visiting shark valley everglades #usdestinations #northamericatravel #traveldestinations

After my fun packed day I headed back to the hostel in the rain, certainly wasn’t expecting rain when I booked Miami.

Ernest F Coe Visitor Centre

My plan for the next day was to drive to the entrance by Florida City and go to the Ernest F Coe Visitor Centre.   This main road which goes to Flamingo Visitor centre is a scenic 38 miles long.

The first stop is at Royal Palm where you can enjoy the Anhinga Trail.  It is 0.8 miles long and there is a chance to see alligators, turtles, fish and birds.  The Gumbo-limbo trail is here too and is only 0.4 miles and you can explore the hardwood hammock.

Further along the road is the pinelands trail another short 0.4 mile long trail where you can explore the tropical pine forest.  For a longer walk you can choose to do the Long Pine Key Trail.

At the Paurotis Pond nesting site you get the chance to see a wide variety of birds.

The West lake trail is another 0.4 mile long trail where you can walk through a mangrove forest.

Flamingo Visitor Centre

This is manned all of winter, but infrequently during the rest of the year.  Here you can do many ranger led activities, from daily boat tours into the mangrove estuary and florida bay, wildlife viewing where you will see crocodiles and manatees and many birds during low tide.

If you want to have a chance of seeing the Flamingo’s that the visitors centre was named after then try taking one of the trails out of the visitor centre or Snake Bight.  They are truly stunning and this is only one of a few places in the USA to see flamingo’s.

Kayaking can also be done from here too with suggested routes available.  You can rent a kayak or canoe from the marina store but make sure you find the best routes and get the safety tips before heading out.

What to pack for your trip to the Everglades

The weather in florida can be very hot and humid so you will want to pack light clothes, though because of the mosquitos you may want to consider wearing long pants and tshirts.  Make sure also that you take plenty of water with as you will be sweating a lot and can get very dehydrated very quickly.

Where to stay when visiting Everglades National Park

Naples, Florida

Budget 

Comfort Inn & Executive Suites Naples – The hotel is beautifully decorated and has an outside swimming pool.  An american breakfast is also included.  Click here for more information and pricing.

Mid-range

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Naples – This hotel caters for everyone.  It has an outdoor pool and sunbathing area, fitness centre, putting green, basketball court and convenience store.  Each suite has a fully fitted kitchen and an american breakfast is included. Click here for more details and pricing.

Luxury

The Inn on the Fifth –  It is located in the centre of Naples and is pure luxury.  With an outdoor pool and spa facilities this is a great place to relax during your trip.  The hotel also has 2 restaurants serving lunch and dinner.  Click here for more details and pricing.

Miami, Florida

Budget

Selina Miami River – This is beautiful hotel with a pool and the feel of a home.  It has an onsite restaurant and shared kitchen for guests.  Dorm rooms and privates are available.  Click here for more information and prices.

Mid-range

Novotel Miami Brickell – Located in downtown Miami, this hotel has rooms with great views and a rooftop pool.  Breakfast can be included.  Click here for more information and pricing.

Luxury

EAST Miami – This hotel is located in the heart of Miami and boasts 4 swimming pools, a rooftop bar, fitness centre and restaurants.  Breakfast can be included.  Click here for more information and pricing.

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——-  About me ——-

girl sat on some wooden stairs wearing a black jumper

Clare from Ilive4travel

Hi my name is Clare and welcome to ilive4travel.  I am originally from the UK but spend most of my time in Peru, the country that caught my heart.

I have visited 73 countries and love to share with you everything I have learnt about these countries in my guides.

31 Comments

  1. Bee

    Is that a snake in the second last picture? I don’t think this would be my kind of trip as I fear reptiles so much.

    Reply
    • ilive4travel

      Yes it is a snake. We didn’t see many alligators due to the weather, I believe if it’s good weather you would see a lot, but you could just do the shuttle around and not get out, then you are in no danger 🙂

      Reply
  2. Tina and Jimmy

    Very Cool! I often wondered what an air boat ride would be like! very detailed info! I think the water snakes would give me the williies which is strange because I thinks the alligators would do more damage 🙂 I drove a few time across alligator ally from Ft. Meyer, it’s was interesting to the gators everywhere!

    Reply
  3. Wangui

    the boat tour seems very interesting

    Reply
  4. Lauren West

    I used to live in Florida myself, and this was so nostalgic for me! Airboats are so much fun, and I loved your account of one. I don’t think I ever saw a dolphin while on an airboat ride though–super cool!

    Reply
  5. Jan Michael De Guzman

    This place is really diverse and so glad to see many wild animals. This place looks really cool to explore for a whole day.

    Reply
  6. The Alternative Ways

    I love how many pictures of animals you have! Didn’t even know there was so much wildlife in Florida. It truly is a paradise isn’t it?

    Reply
  7. Allison

    How lucky were you to get a dorm room to yourself! That never happened to me in my backpacker days. Bummer about the rain but great work surprising your Dad.

    Reply
  8. Rirhandzu Marivate

    This sounds like an adventure I would like to do. I have heard so much about the Everglades, but I have never seen any pictures. I like that there is so natural. Also, I have never seen a water snake before!

    Well done on successfully surprising your dad 😉

    Reply
  9. Cliodhna Ryan

    This looks like my kind of trip! I hadn’t realised you could get so close to nature so close to Miami. The mangrove jungle looks beautiful and so full of wildlife. I think I would have been too excited by the dolphins to even get my camera out in time so well done for getting such a close up shot. The only time I ever saw dolphins from a boat I nearly fell overboard with excitement!

    I really shouldn’t have read this post on payday as I really really want to book a flight to Florida now!

    Reply
  10. Nicole Helgason

    I never thought about staying in a hostel in Florida. I am planning a trip to the keys and all the hotels are so expensive. I will definitely check this out.

    Reply
  11. Ellis

    I did not know there was so much wildlife to see in florida. great post.

    Reply
  12. Veronika

    These boat tours look really amazing. I would be a bit scared of all the widelife but hey, if you don’t risk it, you might never see such a beauty! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Louiela

    You’re so brave… if you have the adrenaline rush, I maybe fainted if I was on your adventure to the mangroves:)

    Being alone in a dorm-room is indeed a party, esp like me who is more introvert and who can’t afford a room for my own..

    Reply
  14. Mackinaw Road

    What a fun way to explore nature and learn about the local animals!!

    Reply
  15. Nicky

    I never knew there were dolphins in the Everglades! So much wildlife, sounds like you had a really enjoyable trip!

    Reply
  16. Punita Malhotra

    What you have described sounded like a nice, relaxing experience, where you just go with the flow..even if there’s nothing thrilling or unusual, it leaves you with a quiet sense of contentment. Birds, alligators and mangroves…just perfect.

    Reply
  17. Liliane Fawzy

    Beautiful pictures! Had never really considered Everglades for a trip but definitely will now!

    Reply
  18. Krista @ Gringita

    Cool trip, I’ve never been to the everglades somehow! There sure are a lot of animals to see, huh? I didn’t know there were dolphins there either!!

    Reply
  19. Melanie

    I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and still haven’t made it to the Everglades. That needs to change!! This post is a shining example of why!!

    Reply
  20. Isadora Koller

    Being able to watch different wild animals in their natural habitat is such an unique experience, specially in this kind of ecosystem!!

    Reply
  21. Igor Mozek

    The aligator heaven 🙂 But those ear muffs are like…how loud that fan can be?

    Reply
  22. Ami

    Woa….those creatures are quite scary. I should remember to keep myself firmly in the boat. Beautiful scenary though.

    Reply
  23. Becky Angell

    This looks fantastic I love wildlife and can see you captured some great pics. I know what you mean with your camera, it’s ok if it’s something that doesn’t move but catching dolphins in action is probably more of a challenge!

    Reply
  24. Ana Ojha

    Everglades tours are so much fun! Glad that you enjoyed it. I live in Florida and have been there few times!

    Reply
  25. Karyna @ Kosan Travel

    This looks like so much fun, you had me at free pancakes! I’ve never been here, but I did see crocs in Cairns once – they are some pretty fearsome creatures!

    Reply
  26. Stella the Travelerette

    The Everglades look so fun. I would be super excited to see those animals, especially the gator and the dolphin. Glad you had such a super day!

    Reply
  27. Archana Singh

    I am a big fan of Hostels but had not heard good things about USA hostels. This post seems to put up a different POV. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  28. Only By Land

    The tour through the everglades sounds fun and you got some amazing pictures, especially of that bird! That was a cool surprise you pulled on your dad, I would have loved to have seen the look on his face!

    Reply

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