Florida Road Trip Day 8: The Everglades & Homestead

When planning our road trip the Everglades was one of the places that were a must-see. We had both always wanted to do an airboat ride so we had pre-booked one with Gary at Down South Airboat Tours before we left home. 

We left the hotel in Naples early this morning to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the pick up point. We were excited about the drive and wondered how many gators we would see along the way. The couple that we’d met on Siesta Beach the other day told us there were sections that had large fences either side to stop the gators coming onto the road… It sounded a little scary.

Once in the Everglades the road is literally a straight line. It would be a great place to put your foot down, especially in the mustang but we stuck to the speed limit as sensible drivers do. 

When we finally arrived at the small (easily missable) pick up point (yes, even on a straight road we got lost and had to ring for further direction!) we we’re greeted by Gary, our airboat tour guide for the next couple of hours. It was great to find out that this wasn’t a huge commercialised tour where airboats are pretty much on a conveyor belt. There was just us.

We headed north for a good 30 minutes, talking through our headsets and pointing out when we thought we saw movement in the water. Each time we did Gary would stop and see if we could coax out the gators. At one point I stood up from my seat and crouched on the end to take a photo… I was feeling quite brave as I hovered above a 6 foot beast who was silently staring me out! 

We learnt so much more than we expected on the tour, it wasn’t just about gators, but also birds, wildlife and how people actually live on the glades for months at a time with no access to anything other than via airboat. Now that’s brave. 

The huge expanse of swampland gives a feeling of complete freedom. I imagine those who have a great interest in nature would find themselves in their element here. 

Other than the airboat ride though, driving through the Everglades is actually a little tedious. A long, long, straight road with nothing but greenery either side and the odd bit of road kill to give you something new to talk about. 

Am I glad we went? Of course.

Would I go again? Probably not. 

Airboat ride in the Everglades. Tick.

We took this route to set us in the right direction for the Florida Keys, which was originally going to be our only destination so we decided to stop over in Homestead so that a big sleep and a fresh morning would allow a more pleasurable (and less sleepy) drive. 

As our visit to Homestead was only supposed to be a quick stop over we saved some money by booking into a cheap travelodge which was in the style of a typical American motel. It was the worst experience of the whole trip!! 

The bed was like a V Shape, the room was dated and the signs ‘Do Not Feed The Racoons’ were enough to give you nightmares! 

Luckily for us the short visit to Homestead wasn’t all bad though. In fact it brought one of the best food experiences of the whole holiday! 

We stopped by a placed called Shivers BBQ about a mile up the road and discovered the most authentic American BBQ Ever!! The food here was amazing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling from the Everglades to the Keys!!  

 It wasn’t at all touristy but the staff were welcoming and the place was full!   

Overall today has been a completely random day but I know I will talk about for a long time to come!

I can’t wait for the Keys tomorrow. 

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