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
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.
- Long light trousers
- Long top
- Mosquito spray or mosquito bands
- Hat – The sun is very strong
- Camelback or water bottle
Where to stay when visiting Everglades National Park
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.
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.
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.
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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