Everglades Nationwide Park covers 1.5 million acres in southern Florida. Over a million individuals go to the third-largest nationwide park in america every year, residence to one of the crucial in depth wetlands on this planet. The Everglades Nationwide Park, established in 1947, has 9 totally different habitats together with marine and freshwater sloughs. The water from the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Shark River stream to the west by way of the Massive Cypress Nationwide Protect into the Ten Thousand Islands. It additionally heads to the east into Biscayne Nationwide Park and south draining into Florida Bay.

After the 1800s, settlers arrived to farm. These new arrivals wanted the land to dry up and didn’t perceive that “The River of Grass” was a lot greater than a nugatory swamp. They didn’t understand the significance of the huge maze of channels and low-lying areas that equipped meals and houses to the birds, fish, reptiles, flora, and fauna. Based on the Nationwide Park Service, “Dams, floodgates, canals, levees and roads had been constructed, diverting valuable water from pure wetlands.”

Years after the Everglades grew to become a nationwide park, a collection of initiatives had been applied to guard the biodiversity of this ecologically delicate space. It’s the most important subtropical wilderness in america, an Worldwide Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Web site, and a Wetland of Worldwide Significance. Water is important right here.

There are lots of methods to discover the park — one great spot to begin is the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in Homestead, Florida. The customer middle is a couple of 2-hour drive from Miami. The Flamingo Marina is 38 miles previous the Ernest F. Coe Customer Heart and affords unbelievable methods to expertise the park’s magnificence from the water.

You’ll be able to lease a canoe or kayak, take a narrated boat tour, or lease a houseboat at Flamingo Adventures on the Flamingo Marina. Flamingo Adventures At Everglades Nationwide Park is the one place the place you may lease and keep in a houseboat in america. In case you’d prefer to spend a trip on a houseboat within the Everglades, listed below are 10 suggestions (in no particular order) to benefit from the expertise whereas observing this watery, wondrous world.

Word: I used to be a visitor of Flamingo Adventures At Everglades Nationwide Park on a houseboat, and all opinions are mine. As a consequence of water situations, we couldn’t drive the houseboat out to Whitewater Bay, however the next suggestions stay related.

1. Take A Boating Course Particular To The Everglades

My husband and I wished this water tenting expertise. Earlier than renting a houseboat by way of Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park, we read the requirements. We had been confused in regards to the course wanted and took a whole boating course from Boat US, a free powerboat certification program. I’m glad we took the time to study boating in my state, but it surely wasn’t the right course for the Everglades.

Once we arrived that afternoon, the water degree was excessive attributable to latest rainfall. It prevented us from floating underneath a street — an overpass that spanned throughout the Buttonwood Canal — so we used the afternoon to discover extra of the park. We took the required Everglades boating course and handed the category that night. We discovered in regards to the fragile habitat, the creatures, and the hazards of working aground within the shallow water of the Everglades.

Afterward, we felt ready to drive the Houseboat. A licensed captain on the marina, Chris Taylor, would again our boat out and drive up the man-made Buttonwood Canal into Coots Bay. Then he would depart our boat and hop on a chase boat, leaving us alone to navigate our means into Whitewater Bay. The return journey can be repeated a couple of days later.

Resident 17-foot-long American crocodile named Fred
Resident 17-foot-long American crocodile named Fred
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

2. Make the most of The Everglades Nationwide Park Map

There may be a lot to see on the water. However, when you’ve got time to discover on foot, you must. In that case, a map of the Everglades is a useful useful resource for locating unbelievable hikes each on boardwalks and filth trails. It’s additionally a good way to plan out what you’d prefer to see and what’s closest to the place you’re staying whereas within the park.

Based on a park ranger, you may full the park in about 3 hours. You may see wildlife, together with American crocodiles and American alligators who co-exist right here. It’s the one place on earth the place they do.

Eco Tent at The Flamingo Campground along Florida Bay
Eco Tent at The Flamingo Campground alongside Florida Bay
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

3. Pack A Digicam

Whereas docked on the Flamingo Marina, we loaded up the boat after which drove our automobile to some close by hikes. We went over to Guy Bradley Trail. We noticed shorebirds equivalent to piping plovers, herons, and snowy egrets frolicking in shallow water that collects there. Subsequent, we toured the brand new Eco Tents out there to lease by way of Flamingo Adventures At Everglades National Park

All of the Eco Tents are on raised platforms and have beautiful views of Florida Bay. Then we walked alongside on the raised boardwalk of the Mahogany Hammock Trail. We noticed a forest of old-growth mahogany timber on the upper, drier floor referred to as a “hammock.” Owls and air vegetation thrive right here. We beloved discovering the large timber and stared in awe because the dragonflies’ and butterflies flitted over the grasses.

A houseboat kitchen in Florida's Everglades National Park
The houseboat’s kitchen
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

4. Prep Your Meals Earlier than Getting On The Boat

In case you are used to tenting, you know the way to organize for a campout. Here’s a professional tip: prep your meals in your individual kitchen at residence should you’re not a camper. There’s a marina retailer for provides, however we deliberate out our meals, shopped, and chopped forward of time at residence. The kitchen on board is tiny, and despite the fact that it’s well-stocked, we didn’t need to fuss with prepping on the boat.

As an alternative, we wished to immerse ourselves within the Everglades. We deliberate straightforward breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and introduced my forged iron skillet. The boat kitchen features a tiny microwave, small fridge, and range. The grill is outdoors on the strict (or again of the boat), and each equipment is powered by propane. Resolve on a easy menu, and prep as a lot as doable beforehand.

5. Carry Bug And Solar Safety

We visited in Might, however the bugs are fierce and mighty even in January. I packed important oil bug spray however, on the recommendation of the Marina Store supervisor, bought a one hundred pc Deet Bug Repellent whereas there. I often use pure merchandise to struggle off bugs at residence, however you want the sturdy stuff right here. Carry sunscreen in your face and uncovered physique components. The solar is intense out on the water.

Ospreys watching the author and her husband fish
Ospreys watching the writer and her husband fish
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

6. Carry Fishing Gear

Do you have got your individual fishing gear? If not, the Marina Store has cheap bait and sort out on the market. My husband purchased a rod, bought the fishing license he wanted, and beloved spending the early night fishing off the dock on the marina. We noticed ospreys simply ft from the place we had been standing. We additionally deliberate to fish off the boat as soon as we bought underway. My husband caught (and launched) a mid-sized grouper, however a number of tarpon had been biting the bait and swimming off.

One of the houseboat's bedrooms
One of many houseboat’s bedrooms
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

7. Pack Correctly

Plan your outside outfits properly, as there isn’t a have to over (or underneath) pack. There’s a closet on board however not numerous space for storing for garments. Carry clothes that helps shield from the solar (shirts with SPF), a hat with a brim, sun shades, shorts, mild mountaineering pants, closed-toe footwear, and a swimsuit for sunning, since you shouldn’t go within the water. The 17-foot American crocodile named Fred likes to hang around by the dock, however we noticed a couple of others like him alongside Buttonwood Canal.

A boardwalk in Florida's Everglades
A boardwalk within the Everglades
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

8. Carry Mountaineering Boots

We solely introduced sneakers reasonably than boots, which restricted the place we selected to hike. We caught to the raised boardwalks, however we might’ve seen extra of the park if we wore our mountaineering boots. We’ll return quickly to discover different trails.

The houseboat on a quiet evening
The houseboat on a quiet night
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

9. Carry An Exercise For The Evenings

You might be able to get on the web on the marina when you’ve got AT&T cell service, however different carriers are spotty right here. Chances are you’ll not get any cell service on the water in any respect. Carry old style leisure like enjoying playing cards, video games, a puzzle, ebook to learn, or stargaze and benefit from the sounds of nature when the solar goes down.

Eco Tour boat in the Florida Everglades
Eco Tour boat
(Picture Credit score: Jeanine Consoli)

10. Be Versatile 

We couldn’t drive the houseboat because the water ranges by no means bought low sufficient for the boat to cross underneath the overpass on the Buttonwood Canal. Based on Captain Chris, a houseboat is gradual and doesn’t have a lot maneuverability. He mentioned it’s rather a lot like driving an enormous truck however solely at speeds as much as 6 miles per hour. It’s totally different than driving a skiff or smaller boat by way of velocity and visibility. 

As an alternative of driving the houseboat, we drove a small boat ourselves (additionally on the marina) up Buttonwood Canal and into Coots Bay. We took the 90-minute narrated wildlife tour and noticed a pod of 10 manatees swimming collectively round Coots Bay and Whitewater Bay. We noticed extra crocodiles and lots of birds, together with a couple of anhingas drying their wings on the mangrove timber.

Professional Tip: Captain Chris affords these predominant suggestions when taking a ship out within the Everglades, “Watch your depths and watch your velocity, it’s straightforward to get caught, and manatees make their residence right here.

For extra on the Everglades, take a look at these articles:


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