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More of the boat, it was a quiet day.
Florida Bay Tour - Everglades National Park
Closest available address
1 Flamingo Lodge Highway Homestead, FL 33034
Mid-December to mid-April 10:30am-6:00pm & other times Fri.-Sun.11:30am-5:30pm
Best time to visit
The Florida Bay Tour is a 1.5 hour motorized boat outing in the Florida Bay section of Everglades National Park. The narrated tour departs from Flamingo, which fronts the bay and is approximately 40 miles from the main visitor center. An adult ticket is $31.80 as of 2014.
Florida Bay is a 500,000 acre estuary and is one of the main habitats in the park. It’s primarily salt water but is more brackish water nearer the coast. Water depths can be quite shallow as well and private boats frequently get stuck in the mud. Boat propellers have done significant damage to the native seagrass in the bay. Interestingly, the term seagrass is a generic reference to ocean plants rather than a distinct species. Seven different types of such grasses can be found in Florida waters. The bay also is dotted with countless mangrove islands which thrive in the salt water. Larger animals in the bay include dolphins, manatees, and crocodiles. Eagles and osprey can sometimes be seen as well.
Taking this tour seemed like a good choice to get a richer Everglades park experience. There had not been time for it on a visit in late December, but it was part of the plan on a return visit in March. The day was sunny, breezy and pleasant. Also, only a few people had signed up for the tour, so there was no shortage of space on the boat. While the tour is ostensibly narrated, the narration was definitely on the skimpy side, and the narrator was more of a boat hand than a trained naturalist. He did offer some commentary about the bay and animal life, but it was uninformative and uninteresting. The big disappointment on this outing though was not seeing any sea animals, as in zero, nada, zippo – no manatees, no dolphins, and no crocodiles. While wild animals sightings are never a sure thing, not seeing any was a big let down. There were some osprey on a navigational pole at the dock, but they could have been viewed from shore. In lieu of nothing to check out, some passengers opted to just layout and catch some rays. One slight positive was chatting with the captain, who was a cool guy and who shared some stories about the work and life in Florida. Had there been some animal encounters, the tour would have been rated a bit higher, but even aside from animal no shows, the tour was dull and overpriced.
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