My travel bucket list always included a visit to Everglades National Park. As a child, I watched television shows about dolphins, alligators, and airboats with fascinating stories set in this region of Florida. I knew a trip to the Everglades would be in my future someday. Moving to the west coast of Florida in spring of 2022 finally made that childhood wish a reality. Finding Florida houseboats for rent near the park was a complete surprise.
Known as “The Gateway to The Keys,” the 1.5-million-acre Everglades National Park is located on the southernmost point on the Florida peninsula mainland. If you visit the park, there are multiple options for overnight stays including Florida houseboats for rent.
I’ve always wanted to sleep on a houseboat in Florida for rent and learned we could do that at Flamingo Marina.
Finding a Houseboat to Rent in Florida Everglades National Park
I discovered a houseboat to rent in Florida Everglades National Park through Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park. Flamingo Adventures offers several options for overnight accommodations including RV sites, campsites, eco-tents, and Florida houseboats for rent. The boats are moored at the marina (part of Flamingo Adventures), a 38-mile drive from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor’s Center entrance to the National Park in Homestead, Florida.
These Everglades Florida Houseboats for Rent are Well-Equipped
The Florida houseboats for rent with Flamingo Adventures sleep six guests and are ideal for two couples or a family. Houseboats are 42-feet-long and fully equipped for a stay on the water. I was impressed with the well-outfitted and clean accommodations.
There’s a steering wheel and a small table and chairs set up on the front deck. It’s a great spot to enjoy coffee, spot wildlife, or keep the captain company while navigating around Whitewater Bay.
Houseboat Kitchen, Bath and Bedroom Review
A sliding glass door opens into a tiny but efficient galley kitchen outfitted with a small sink, stove, refrigerator, kitchen utensils, pots, and a coffee maker. A high-top table, chairs, pull-out sofa and armchair make up the living area. A comfortable space for meals.
The bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower was surprisingly large. Towels, soap, marine toilet tissue, and paper towels were all stocked there.
A full-sized bed, tucked in a nook across the hall from the bathroom was prepared with sheets and pillows. There’s no door, so it’s the perfect place for children to take a rest.
The main bedroom featured a queen-sized bed with nightstands, lamps on either side, and a small closet. Off the back is another deck with a small propane grill and chairs. The boats have air conditioning units and screens on the windows.
Our Enjoyable Florida Houseboat Rental
Our time on the Florida houseboats for rent was fun and we had plenty to see. We vacationed in May and planned to drive the boat (much like driving a large SUV at 6-miles-per-hour) into Whitewater Bay. Unfortunately, heavy rains raised the water levels, which prevented us from sailing under an overpass up Buttonwood Creek. If we had set out, the captain at Flamingo Marina would back the boat out of the slip and out to the Creek (followed by a chase boat). Then he’d jump in the chase boat and leave us to take the wheel.
We hiked, grilled, fished, and observed many species of shore birds. Serious birders will LOVE a private birdwatching expedition led by a professional guide in the Everglades sure to tick off species from their life lists.
At the dock, we met the resident ospreys and a 17-foot saltwater crocodile named Fred. We also spotted alligators, tarpon, and manatee at the dock and in the bay.
Interestingly enough, the Everglades are the only place where alligators and the American Crocodile co-exist. Plus, this ecological wonderland is home to endangered animal species including the leatherback turtle, Indian Manatee, and Florida Panther.
Important Tips for Renting a Houseboat in the Everglades
Stop at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor’s Center for a park map and discover hikes like the Anhinga Trail and Mahogany Trail. In order to pilot a houseboat, you must take a course on boating safety in the Everglades, but it is free.
Travel tips: Bring bug spray and sunscreen. If you fish, purchase a license and enjoy fishing for tarpon and snapper.Florida houseboat for renthouseboat