Take a thrilling airboat ride through Florida's pristine wetlands and experence incredible wildlife up close.
Airboat tours allow you to really get up close and personal with some of the spectacular wildlife along the Nature Coast. They allow you to access regions of Citrus County Florida that you simply could not get to by regular boat or in a vehicle, so you get to see the sights that delight nature lovers of all ages.
What is an airboat?
An airboat is a vessel with a flat metal bottom, similar in design to a barge, but much smaller. They are powered by a large fan that is mounted on the back of the boat, which acts similar to an aircraft propeller. The rest of the boat is generally comprised of seating for anywhere from six to twenty people.
The large propeller on the back is surrounded by a metal cage that prevents any debris from going through the fan. There are vertical rudders attached to the back of the fan that are used for steering. Because the boat is powered by a propeller, there are no brakes on an airboat. There is also no way to go in reverse, so having an experienced captain at the helm is essential.
Also, because airboats have flat bottoms and no motors beneath the water surface, there is no minimum depth of water they can travel through. They can also cruise right through swamps and marshes, and even ride across dry land if necessary.
Homosassa Airboat Tours
The Homosassa area is one of the most popular areas for airboat tours in Florida. This area allows for a wide variety of tours ranging from a simple safari to a ride all the way out into the Gulf of Mexico to visit places like St. Martins Keys, the Bird Keys, and the Ozello areas.
Because the Homosassa area combines backwaters, estuaries, saltwater marshes, and even the Gulf of Mexico, there is almost no limit to the different types of wildlife you are likely to see. There is a good chance that you will encounter alligators back in the marshes, dolphins out on the Gulf, and dozens of different birds along the entire tour.
If you are looking to schedule an airboat tour in the Homosassa region, River Safaris offers many different options for groups of all sizes at many different times. Their Sunset Ride tour is an absolutely incredible experience.
Withlacoochee Airboat Tours
Another popular place for airboat tours is the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau area in Citrus County Florida. When touring this area you are certain to see plenty of wildlife in their natural environment.
One of the most popular airboat tour companies among our residents in this area is Captain Bob’s Airboat Tours, which launches right from the Blue Gator Tiki Bar & Restaurant along the Withlacoochee River in Dunnellon. They offer one or two hour tours, as well as a 2-hour sunset tour. I recently went on the one-hour tour of the Withlacoochee River with several friends and with Captain Bob at the controls. It was a blast!
Our tour started slowly with us getting acquainted and heading to the river from the Blue Gator landing. By the way The Blue Gator is a great place for lunch and drinks before or after the tour. On the way Captain Bob explained what we would be seeing, gave us some interesting facts on the fresh water springs that pump millions of gallons of spring water into the river each day, and then asked if we had a fear of speed. In unison we all emphatically answered, “NO”. With that he suggested we put on the noise blocking headphones they provide, and then he revved up the 497 HP beast and we were off on our adventure.
The Withlacoochee is a pristine, wondrous waterway. Some 50 to 60 feet wide, it gracefully winds its way through miles of unspoiled forest and side waters. It was obvious that Captain Bob knew how to time his ride because after a couple of minutes of travelling along at 25 mph he opened the throttle and soon we were cruising on smooth-as-silk water at 55 to 60 mph. It was invigorating and seemed much faster since we were so close to the water.
As Captain Bob slalomed down the river the fresh water spray was refreshing us as he made his turns. I found myself giggling like a school kid each time the spray hit my face! During the tour we would pause in certain locations where the Captain would explain more about the wildlife and the river. At one point we took a detour and went into an area known for being home and breeding grounds to alligators. Had the sun been shining brightly we would have seen more of these residents, as it was we got to see a 12 footer in a shallow area about 50 feet from us.
On the way back to home base we were treated to beautiful birds on the river shore and floating high above us. Gracefully watching over and protecting the river. It was a wonderful feeling, like stepping back in time to a place unchartered by man. Before we knew it our tour was over and we were headed back to civilization, and a refreshing beverage.
As you can probably tell airboat tours offer a distinctly unique way to experience the beautiful natural environment surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills. If you have never experienced one first-hand, what are you waiting for?