Everglades Nationwide Park covers 1.5 million acres in southern Florida. Over a million folks go to the third-largest nationwide park in the US annually, dwelling to one of the crucial intensive wetlands on the earth. 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 move to the west via the Large 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 sequence of tasks had been carried out to guard the biodiversity of this ecologically delicate space. It’s the most important subtropical wilderness in the US, an Worldwide Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Web site, and a Wetland of Worldwide Significance. Water is crucial right here.
There are various methods to discover the park — one excellent place to start out is the Ernest F. Coe Customer Heart in Homestead, Florida. The customer heart is a few 2-hour drive from Miami. The Flamingo Marina is 38 miles previous the Ernest F. Coe Customer Heart and presents unimaginable methods to expertise the park’s magnificence from the water.
You possibly can 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’ll be able to lease and keep in a houseboat in the US. In the event you’d prefer to spend a trip on a houseboat within the Everglades, listed here are 10 ideas (in no particular order) to benefit from the expertise whereas observing this watery, wondrous world.
Notice: I used to be a visitor of Flamingo Adventures At Everglades Nationwide Park on a houseboat, and all opinions are mine. Attributable to water circumstances, we couldn’t drive the houseboat out to Whitewater Bay, however the next ideas stay related.
1. Take A Boating Course Particular To The Everglades
My husband and I needed this water tenting expertise. Earlier than renting a houseboat via Flamingo Adventures at Everglades Nationwide Park, we learn the necessities. We had been confused in regards to the course wanted and took an entire boating course from Boat US, a free powerboat certification program. I’m glad we took the time to find out about boating in my state, nevertheless it wasn’t the right course for the Everglades.
After we arrived that afternoon, the water degree was excessive as a result of 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 risks 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 go away our boat and hop on a chase boat, leaving us alone to navigate our method into Whitewater Bay. The return journey can be repeated a number of days later.
2. Make the most of The Everglades Nationwide Park Map
There may be a lot to see on the water. However, in case you have time to discover on foot, it’s best to. In that case, a map of the Everglades is a beneficial useful resource for locating unimaginable 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 might be staying whereas within the park.
Based on a park ranger, you’ll be able to 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.
3. Pack A Digital camera
Whereas docked on the Flamingo Marina, we loaded up the boat after which drove our automotive to some close by hikes. We went over to Man Bradley Path. 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 accessible to lease via Flamingo Adventures At Everglades Nationwide Park.
All of the Eco Tents are on raised platforms and have gorgeous views of Florida Bay. Then we walked alongside on the raised boardwalk of the Mahogany Hammock Path. We noticed a forest of old-growth mahogany bushes on the upper, drier floor known as a “hammock.” Owls and air crops thrive right here. We beloved discovering the large bushes and stared in awe because the dragonflies’ and butterflies flitted over the grasses.
4. Prep Your Meals Earlier than Getting On The Boat
In case you are used to tenting, you know the way to arrange for a campout. Here’s a professional tip: prep your meals in your individual kitchen at dwelling if you happen to’re not a camper. There’s a marina retailer for provides, however we deliberate out our meals, shopped, and chopped forward of time at dwelling. The kitchen on board is tiny, and despite the fact that it’s well-stocked, we didn’t wish to fuss with prepping on the boat.
As a substitute, we needed 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 exterior on the strict (or again of the boat), and each equipment is powered by propane. Determine on a easy menu, and prep as a lot as potential beforehand.
5. Carry Bug And Solar Safety
We visited in Could, however the bugs are fierce and mighty even in January. I packed important oil bug spray however, on the recommendation of the Marina Retailer supervisor, bought a 100% Deet Bug Repellent whereas there. I normally use pure merchandise to struggle off bugs at dwelling, however you want the sturdy stuff right here. Carry sunscreen in your face and uncovered physique elements. The solar is intense out on the water.
6. Carry Fishing Gear
Do you may have your individual fishing gear? If not, the Marina Retailer has cheap bait and deal with on the market. My husband purchased a rod, obtained the fishing license he wanted, and beloved spending the early night fishing off the dock on the marina. We noticed ospreys simply toes from the place we had been standing. We additionally deliberate to fish off the boat as soon as we obtained underway. My husband caught (and launched) a mid-sized grouper, however a number of tarpon had been biting the bait and swimming off.
7. Pack Properly
Plan your outside outfits correctly, as there isn’t any must over (or underneath) pack. There’s a closet on board however not loads of cupboard space for garments. Carry clothes that helps defend 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 number of others like him alongside Buttonwood Canal.
8. Carry Mountain climbing Boots
We solely introduced sneakers slightly 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.
9. Carry An Exercise For The Evenings
You could possibly get on the web on the marina in case you have AT&T cell service, however different carriers are spotty right here. You could not get any cell service on the water in any respect. Carry old style leisure like enjoying playing cards, video games, a puzzle, a very good e-book to learn, or stargaze and benefit from the sounds of nature when the solar goes down.
10. Be Versatile
We couldn’t drive the houseboat because the water ranges by no means obtained low sufficient for the boat to go 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 so much like driving a giant truck however solely at speeds as much as 6 miles per hour. It’s totally different than driving a skiff or smaller boat when it comes to velocity and visibility.
As a substitute 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 plenty of birds, together with a number of anhingas drying their wings on the mangrove bushes.
Professional Tip: Captain Chris presents these essential ideas 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 dwelling right here.
For extra on the Everglades, try these articles: