One attraction that’s definitely worth its price is the Myakka Park Airboat ride, a scenic one-hour guided tour of the Myakka Lake on one of the two world’s largest airboats; the airboat I was on is called the “Gator Gal.”
The other is the “Myakka Maiden.” The “Gator Gal” is a smooth ride out on the Myakka Lake.
The tour guide-airboat captains are outstanding. Experts.
To date, I’ve been on the “Gator Gal” for three guided tours.
Each time there was a different park ranger or tour guide.
Each one had extensive knowledge about the Myakka Lake and River, the ecosystem and even the history of the area and how “aliens” invaded what is now the Myakka River State Park area, decades ago.
Aliens such as foreign species of grasses, animals like Armadillos and even some of the Palm Tree varieties were brought from elsewhere.
By the way did, did you know that Palm Trees really aren’t trees at all? They aren’t. They’re part of the grass species. So maybe a Palm Tree, in reality, is just a giant blade of grass! It’s amazing what these airboat tour guides impart. Their knowledge of the Myakka River, its creatures and ecosystem would be hard to top.
While the Myakka Park Airboat tour on the “Gator Gal” is just as informative whether or not you see any alligators in their natural habitat, it’s probably more fun to see one or two, especially, while you’re on an airboat named, “The Gator Gal!” But no matter what time of year you find yourself at Myakka River State Park, it is still worth taking the airboat guided tour.
So what about those alligators? Well, the American Alligators of the southeast U.S. are usually more visible in the early spring: late March and early April because it’s mating season and the Florida weather has not yet become hot, when alligators usually spend most of their time under water staying cool. They dislike the high temperatures as much as we humans.
The tour guides are entertaining and quick with a quip and also quick to point out a gator here, a turtle there, a rare Blue Heron in the tall grass over yonder.
For me, it was a very well spent $12 and I've been on the Gator
Gal 3 times now. (For children 6 - 12 the cost of a ticket is $6). Save
your ticket for a second trip within 12 months for a 50% discount. (Prices subject to change. More on pricing below.)
The "Gator Gal" airboat and the "Myakka Maiden" rotate tour schedules and are docked in the Lagoon or “Boat Basin” across from the Myakka Outpost Concession stand.
NEW BOAT TOURS HOURS OF OPERATION as of 8/1/2018:
The airboat tours have been replaced with pontoon boat tours. Boat tour times are 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 plus tax for adults and $12 plus tax for children 3-12. Toddlers 2 and under are free. More info: 941-361-6511
Tips: Traditionally, Tickets for the Myakka Park Airboat guided tour may be purchased on board the boat, but you can claim a seat ahead of time at the boat's pavilion just next to its dock.
Arrive at least 30 minutes before the tour for boarding and if you want to take an 11 a.m. tour, you might show up prior to the 9 a.m. tour to secure a seat for the 11 a.m. trip. During busy season you could have a difficult time getting a seat.
They do not take reservations. It is strictly first come-first serve at this writing time.
Although additional tours may be added during peak season, make sure you secure your seat early. The tour lasts about an hour.
Directions: The main road, Park Road, will lead you straight to the Boat Basin, The Myakka Outpost and the Myakka Park Boat Tours.