As you can easily see when you fly into Orlando, Central Florida is dotted with lakes, from the tiny to the fairly large. It also boasts its fair share of spring fed streams and rivers, as well as acre upon acre of swamps. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Orlando area offers the visitor plenty of opportunities to get on the water.
The signature Central Florida boat ride, of course, is aboard an airboat. These cleverly designed craft were created to meet the challenges of Florida’s swamps and shallow estuaries. The pontoons allow the craft to float in just inches of water, the raised pilot’s seat allows the driver to spot submerged obstacles (like alligators) before it’s too late, and the powerful (if rather noisy) airplane propellers that power them let the boats skim across the water at a remarkable clip. The airboat is a raffish, backwoods sort of vehicle and it is used to give tourists a taste of what the old Florida of trappers and hunters was like. The “prey” is much the same — gators and such — but these days the only thing that gets shot is photographs.
There are other ways to cruise Central Florida’s waters. One of the most popular is the pontoon boat, a flat rectangle set on two buoyant floats and designed for leisurely lake cruising. For many of Florida’s lakeshore residents, they serve as floating patios; for the tourist trade, they make excellent sightseeing vessels. Central Florida even lays claim to a sort of cruise ship that takes passengers out on the broad St. John’s River for an elegant dinner. All these options are listed below, along with the major airboat excursion companies.
UPDATE: Fuel prices have been rising, forcing boat operators to increase their prices, sometimes on a regular basis. The prices given are the latest information we have. Operators are increasingly unwilling to reveal their current prices to us. Always call ahead to check the latest pricing and please don't yell at the operator because you saw a different price here!
A-Awesome Airboat Rides
Airboat Rides at Midway
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
Old Fashioned Airboat Rides
Osprey Eco Tours
Scenic Lake Tours
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour
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