A legend in its own right, the Florida Everglades is often called a wonder of the world. The best way to experience this subtropical wilderness, home to nine different habitats that include coastal lowlands and pine rocklands, is by boat. But that doesn’t mean you need to bring your own. An Everglades boat rental can outfit you with everything you need, whether that’s a guide or fishing gear, to ensure you navigate these waters the right way.
Everglades Boat Rental: 6 Things to Expect
1. Challenging Navigation
Most of the Everglades are accessible only by water, but that doesn’t mean you can expect smooth sailing on your boat trip. Just the opposite, these winding waterways take you through tiny islands, tall seagrasses, and mangrove tunnels. One particularly tight channel between the Broad River Chickee and Harney River Chickee is affectionately nicknamed The Nightmare and can be traversed only by paddlers at high tide.
In addition, many areas of shallow water make passing any part of this 99-mile stretch a challenge. Prevailing winds in the winter and spring help you paddle from north to south, starting in Everglades City and ending in Flamingo, and numbered channel markers serve to keep you oriented. But they’re not enough on their own, so strong directional skills and a compass are necessary.
Consider Buying a Package
Those who are new to canoeing, kayaking, and boating might consider a package boat rental that also provides a guide. These professionals can teach you about the area and find the perfect fishing spot (more on that in just a moment). You won’t get stuck in the muck during low tide, and you’ll stay clear of areas closed to public use – like Lane Cove Colony, a small cluster of islands south of Everglades City.
2. Rental Boats Suitable to the Marshy Environment of the Glades
3. You Must Complete the Boater Education Program
If you plan to operate any boat with a motor attached – including kayaks, sailboats, and canoes – you’ll need a certificate from the Everglades National Park. Obtaining this requires that you first take a free online course designed to orient you to the park’s unique features and marine waters.
Once you’ve completed the boater education course and passed the test, you can print your certificate and bring it with you. The only operators who do not need this certificate are those strictly rowing, poling, or paddling a kayak, canoe, or boat without a motor. You are still encouraged to take the free course, however, to familiarize yourself with the waterways.
4. Top-Notch Fishing
The Everglades is one of the top fishing destinations in the world with over 300 different species. You’ll find largemouth bass, snook, flounder, red snapper, and more. Pausing to test your angler skills also gives you a chance to take in the exotic scenery, rich with:
- Wild orchids
- Rare wading birds
- Sea horses
- Wood storks
- Roseate spoonbills
Fishing requires a Flordia State Fishing Licensing, and your catch can be cooked fresh in one of our fully outfitted kitchens. Fishing boat rentals are available equipped with tackle and bait. You’re welcome to bring your own gear, but if you choose not to, equipment can also be rented.
5. A Variety of Trip Options
Planning is Imperative
Certain routes can also suit your level of boating experience, from beginner to advanced. Hell’s Bay in Flamingo, for instance, is a popular route among those seeking a challenge, as it winds through many mangroves.
Sandfly Island Loop in Everglades City is about 5 miles round-trip and influenced by winds and tides, making it a less predictable route than others in the area. The point is you’ll want to choose one of these routes before embarking on your trip so you know how long you need your boat rental and what provisions you should bring.
6. Wilderness and Alligators
And that log you think you see on the edge of a waterway? It’s likely an alligator – these reptiles line canal banks and reign in the swamp, especially as you go deeper into the Glades. This is, in fact, the only spot on the planet where crocs and gators cohabitate, so expect to see both.
A visit to the Everglades provides an up-close encounter with nature that can’t be replicated. Whether you plan to fish or simply want to conquer the challenge of this exotic destination, boating these waterways can be both exhilarating and intimate. For help with planning your trip, including information on our rental units and choosing a boat or kayak, contact Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina in Chokoloskee, FL, today.