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The Quest

We were racing through the Florida Everglades on an airboat. We were on a quest. We had come to Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston, Florida, hoping to catch a glimpse of a wild alligator.


Earlier that morning, our cruise ship had returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after a fun and relaxing seven day Caribbean cruise. Before the cruise, we’d booked Holland America’s “Everglades Airboat Ride” with airport transfers in order to squeeze one last adventure into our vacation.

After we were packed into the airboat with other tourists, like a bunch of sardines, our airboat zoomed past ubiquitous islands of sawgrass. The wind blew our hair. The loud fan propelling our boat forward was muted by the earplugs that had been issued to us before the ride.

View from airboat

As we traveled further away from the dock, I noticed that the waterway that we were boating along was becoming more and more narrow, but when the encroaching sawgrass appeared to make the channel too narrow for our boat, we easily passed right over the grass and on our way. Because airboats' propellers are in the air rather than the water, they have no problem traveling in shallow or vegetation-filled water.

Birds in the Everglades

The captain stopped the boat in a clearing. I watched some small birds wadding in the water while he talked to us about the Everglades. I looked for gators, but saw none. Soon we took off again.

Suddenly, I saw a small alligator scurry out of the water ahead of us and into the grass. The captain quickly stopped the boat, but it was too late, the gator was gone.

A few minutes later, the captain stopped the boat again. He had seen something from his perch above us. He carefully maneuvered the boat so we could all see a small alligator swimming slowly through the water. We watched the little gator until, like a ghost, he disappeared into the Everglades.

Alligator in the Everglades

Our boat zoomed back to the dock.

Back on land, we followed a path to a mini-zoo. Admission to the zoo was included in the price of our excursion. The animals on exhibit were beautiful, but our favorite “attractions” were a wild egret perched on a fence near the gift shop, some peacocks who were wandering around the grounds (one of them accompanied us for a portion of our guided tour), and an alligator and a bunch of fish in the little swamp area that we passed on our way to the mini-zoo.

Wild egret in the Everglades

We headed home from our adventure satisfied. We had ridden an airboat through the Florida Everglades and had seen wild alligators. Our quest was successful! And we got a no hassle ride to the airport to boot!

I did this in 2009 in Weston, Florida, USA.
(Our cruise ship shore excursion departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)

Jen (California, USA)