How Wheelchair Users Can Ride on Accessible Airboats in Florida

how wheelchair users can ride on airboats in florida

There are some experiences that are quintessentially Floridian. A few are obvious, like going to the beach or deep-sea fishing in the Keys. However, Florida is home to unique wetlands that include the famous Everglades, and those can typically only be traversed with an airboat. These are flat-bottomed boats with rows of bench seats that use a HUGE fan at the back for propulsion instead of a motor. That fan prevents the boat from getting tangled in grasses or running aground in shallow waters. These airboats may not sound very wheelchair friendly, but depending on one’s physical abilities and mobility equipment, wheelchair users can totally enjoy the thrill of riding on accessible airboats in Florida! Here’s how.

wheelchair accessible airboat floridaCentral Florida Airboat Tours, Geneva. Take a real Central Florida airboat tour and see areas those 15 and 20 passenger barge airboats can not access – large alligators in their natural habitat, beautiful bald eagles, moss covered cypress, serene surroundings, this and much more from your boat. Central Florida Airboat Tours provides tours out of several locations on the St Johns River, depending on what their customers want to see and the length of the tours. Their main location currently is the Jolly Gator Fish Camp on Hwy 46 East of Sanford, Florida at the Geneva/Lake Harney Bridge. This tour requires the most mobility. You can roll your chair right up to the boat on a gentle grass slope. However, you will either need help stepping into the boat or help getting carried on to the front bench. There is a bar to grab onto, and you will need upper body control as the airboat can reach pretty high speeds. Captain Bruce and the staff will do everything in their power to make sure you are comfortable and safe, and the views and experience are priceless.

Wooten’s Grassland Airboat Tour, Miami. Wooten’s is a one-stop destination for a complete Everglades adventure! The 30-35 minute tour explores 259 acres of private grasslands, away from the traffic of other airboats. You’ll learn about animals, plants, and area history from their knowledgeable captains and see wild alligators, birds, and other animals. Before or after your airboat ride, you can also visit their Animal Sanctuary & Alligator Park where they put on live alligator shows. Wooten’s has one airboat that allows wheelchair users to roll right onto the airboat from the dock. You transfer from your chair to the bench or stay in your chair at the front of the airboat. At this time, they can only accommodate manual wheelchairs due to weight and balance issues. Please call (800) 282-2781 for reservations and let them know ahead of time that you’ll need the accessible airboat for your tour.

Myakka Wildlife Tours, Sarasota. This airboat tour in Sarasota County on Florida’s Gulf Coast is easily the most accessible and can accommodate even power chairs on their larger covered airboats. The tours are an hour long and cross the Myakka Lake, where you’ll see TONS of alligators, water birds, and maybe even some wild pigs. Afterwards (during winter months), you can even take an accessible tram ride through Myakka State Park to see more Florida wildlife. The airboat dock is accessed via a wood and (somewhat steep) metal ramp, and they use a portable ramp to help you roll right onto the airboat. There you’ll have a designated spot where you can stay in your wheelchair for the whole tour. Afterwards, you can ride a ramp up to the accessible restrooms, gift shop, and snack bar. Make sure you contact them ahead of time at 941-365-0100 to let them know you’ll be riding with a chair, and to confirm the tram is operating.

Are you ready to book a fantastic accessible adventure in sunny Florida? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel for assistance!






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  • Marcela Capuano June 10, 2018 at 10:49 am Reply

    Me parece excelente tu página, realmente pensé que ya no iba a poder disfrutar un montón de cosas que ahora gracias a ti me entero que si. Me alegraste un poco mas la vida. Ya voy a ir planeando mis próximas vacaciones en Miami

  • The Best Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Florida - Spin the Sunshine State June 16, 2018 at 2:37 pm Reply

    […] 2. Siesta Key Beach. It’s hard to hide my bias towards the white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and especially the wide and friendly beaches of Siesta Key. In 2016, the city installed a Mobi-Mat on the sand, which almost goes down to the water. Fortunately, you can use the free beach wheelchairs to make it down to the water’s edge. Just make sure you check one out before 3PM, and they’re available on a first-come, first served basis. The parking lot is large and has several van-accessible parking spaces with ample ramps to the concessions and beach access areas. There are also accessible restrooms located in the concession area, as well as ramp access to an observation tower. You won’t be too far from Myakka State Park, where later during your visit you can go on a fully accessible airboat ride! […]

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  • Buddy July 23, 2018 at 3:04 pm Reply

    Just spoke to Coopertown and they do not allow you to roll on the boat. They have to lift you in on the bench.

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