Want to see an alligator up close? Unless it’s the dead of winter, that’s probably not going to be a problem on a Louisiana swamp tour.
More than just an outing on the water, these experiences are educational, too. You’ll discover that these watery areas of Louisiana aren’t just beautiful but are also complex ecosystems worthy of exploration. You’ll also learn more about the Cajun culture, likely from the lips of colorful characters who call these places home.
Are you ready to head deep into the Louisiana swamps? Let’s go!
What Is a Swamp Tour?
A swamp tour is one of the best ways to experience the real wild side of Louisiana. We’re not talking about the debauchery associated with Mardi Gras or Bourbon Street, but about Louisiana’s natural landscapes.
Taking a swamp tour means getting on a boat and getting an insider’s look from an experienced guide. The type of watercraft depends on the tour you take. Slow-cruising boats that hold a handful of passengers are the most common.
You can also take a swamp tour in a faster-moving airboat or a smaller canoe or kayak. What these different types of watercraft have in common is a flat bottom. That’s because the water can get pretty shallow in the remote areas of the swamps.
Yes, alligators are common, except when hibernating in the coldest months. But these tours aren’t just about the gators. Among the enchanting cypress trees and Spanish moss, you’ll likely spot plenty of turtles and probably some snakes. You’ll surely see aquatic birds like herons, egrets, cormorants, wood storks, and ibises.
The land dwellers you’re likely to encounter include raccoons, skunks, and nutria, a type of swamp rat with an interesting history. You may also spot a mink or even a wild boar.
Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of the highly elusive Honey Island Swamp Monster! That’s the Cajun version of a sasquatch.
What Time of Day Is Best for a Swamp Tour?
If you’re taking a tour in the summer, we’d recommend getting an early start for a few reasons. It’s cooler, first of all, because the temperatures haven’t had time to heat to the point that can be overbearing.
Also, the visibility is better. The harsh midday sun can literally be blinding, and you won’t be able to enjoy the spectacular scenery as much.
If morning doesn’t fit very well into your travel schedule, we’d suggest waiting until late afternoon or evening, if available. The most important thing is to avoid the day’s most intense heat and the brightest sunlight.
If you enjoy immersive guided tours, check out the Top Rated Snorkeling Tours in Key West 🐠
How Much Does a Swamp Tour Cost in Louisiana?
Prices for the swamp tours vary, but you can generally count on paying $25 to $50 for each adult passenger. And that’s typically for a two-hour ride, but sometimes they are a bit shorter. There are usually discounts for children, and it’s often free for kids ages 2 years old and under.
These prices are for classic-style narrated swamp tours that you enjoy as part of a small group of fellow tourists. The swifter airboat tours are a bit pricier, starting at around $65 or more per passenger.
In addition, some operators have different rates for group tours or personalized excursions, which they sometimes bill as VIP packages.
10 Best Swamp Tours in Louisiana
Once upon a time, there were just a few swamp tours in Louisiana, but the number has grown in recent years. They all share the same basic formula for the most part, but are, of course, tailored to each specific location. These top 10 tours are the best of the best.
1. Last Wilderness Swamp Tours
Address: 33115 LA-75, Plaquemine, LA 70764
About: Capt. Dean Wilson is also a commercial fisherman and hunter, so he knows these watery woods like the back of his hand. The two-hour tour explores parts of the Atchafalaya Basin, which he describes as “the largest forested wetlands in North America.”
Unlike some tour operators, Last Wilderness Swamp Tours doesn’t feed alligators or try to lure them in for a closer look. He prefers to observe them in their natural state from a respectful distance.
2. Cajun Pride Swamp Tours
Address: 110 Frenier Rd, LaPlace, LA 70068
About: Just 25 miles west of New Orleans, Cajun Pride Swamp Tours is a privately owned wildlife refuge in the Cajun town of Frenier. The locals call this waterway the Manchac Swamp, and it’s been their livelihood for generations.
The swamp tour is on private property, offering an exclusive experience. “Our privately owned swamp ensures that your narrated tour will not be disturbed by other boats,” Cajun Pride says. The company also offers plantation tours, or you can book a combination tour.
3. Louisiana Tour Company
Address: 9706 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072
About: See the sights in comfort along the Barataria Swamps in Jefferson Parish, across the river from New Orleans. Besides the typical wildlife, the sights include an old family cemetery, a Cajun fishing village, and a 2,000-year-old Native American burial mound.
While some Louisiana swamp tours are more primitive, this one uses a covered excursion boat with cushioned seats, windows, and even an on-board restroom. It’s about a 35-minute drive from the French Quarter. If you prefer, Louisiana Tour Company pick you up at your hotel and take you back later.
4. Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours & Airboat Tours
Address: 6601 Leo Kerner Lafitte Pkwy, Marrero, LA 70072
About: Pirates are something else associated with the swamps of Louisiana, and the notorious Jean Lafitte was the most famous of all. Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours has easygoing swamp tours are on open-air pontoon-style boats with benches and a bathroom.
The faster-paced airboat tours are a bit noisier, too, thanks to the roar of their 450-horsepower Chevy engines. These adventures take place in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside the Crescent City.
5. Honey Island Swamp Tours
Address: 41490 Crawford Landing Rd, Slidell, LA 70461
About: If you were to chance upon that legendary Bayou Bigfoot, this would likely be the place. East of New Orleans near Slidell, the Honey Island Swamp Tours is also fabled as the originator of the swamp tour industry.
They have 40 years of experience taking visitors on memorable trips along the 250-square-mile pristine swamp off the Pearl River. The place got its name from the multitudes of honey bees in the area. Keep an eye out for the bald eagles that have continuously nested here for at least a century.
6. Louisiana Swamp Tours
Address: 1209 Rookery Rd, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
About: Farther west in Cajun Country, Capt. Wendy Thibodeaux uses a smaller motorboat that carries up to five along the magnificent waters of Lake Martin. Her tour lasts an hour and almost guarantees sightings of three kinds of herons and alligators on warm, sunny days.
Her vessel, an aluminum boat with a gas motor, is the same type that local fishermen use to harvest seafood. With family roots in the community dating to the 1700s, Louisiana Swamp Tours offers an authentic experience and a wealth of knowledge.
7. New Orleans Airboat Tours
Address: 4757 Orleans Way, Marrero, LA 70072
About: If airboats are more your speed, New Orleans Airboat Tours is a family of tour captains has been doing it longer than anyone in the business. They describe themselves as authentic “swamp people” who have always made their living by trapping the native animals for fur and food.
“The Louisiana wetlands are nature’s amusement parks,” they say. “Our swamp tours are authentic adventures – thrilling, enlightening, and, most importantly, real.” Find out for yourself just 20 miles south of downtown New Orleans.
8. Ultimate Swamp Adventures
Address: 450 Laroussini St, Westwego, LA 70094
About: These adventures take place on Bayou Segnette, an area the locals call the West Bank. It’s west of the Mississippi River and just minutes from New Orleans.
Ultimate Swamp Adventures has two sizes of airboats here, and the bigger one holds as many as 26 passengers. They also have covered pontoon boats for a gentler cruise.
If an evening tour appeals to you, Ultimate Swamp Adventures offers start times as late as 6 p.m. during the summer.
9. Swamp Tours of Acadiana
Address: 1209 Rookery Rd, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
About: This picturesque area near Lafayette is the longtime home of Capt. Bryce Fuselier. When he’s not busy being a husband and father, he’s giving tours of Lake Martin, sometimes from sunrise to sundown.
But the work at Swamp Tours of Acadiana doesn’t stop there — he also schedules nighttime swamp tours by appointment. “All I know today about Louisiana swamps and its hidden secrets were passed down by my grandfather and dad,” he says. He uses a Cajun skiff that seats six to eight people and has padded seats.
10. Airboat Tours by Arthur
Address: 4262 Hwy 90, Des Allemands, LA 70030
About: This area is one of the original German settlements in southeastern Louisiana and is also known for its wild-caught catfish. Tour operator Arthur Matherne will gladly take you on a leisurely float through the scenic Bayou Des Allemand.
If you want something more adventurous, he’s your man for that, too. After all, the Airboat Tours by Arthur motto is “Take a Ride on the Wild Side.” As a bonus, he will show you where they filmed the famous boat scene in the classic James Bond movie “Live and Let Die.”
Are Swamp Tours in Louisiana Worth It?
Southern swamps may seem like tranquil places, but there’s a lot of activity once you get inside them. Taking a Louisiana swamp tour will open your eyes and ears to just how diverse these natural areas are.
You’ll find out how plants and animals depend on each other to survive and how their entire world is in jeopardy. You’ll also learn about Cajun culture and the traditional way of life in a place that’s unique in so many ways.
One thing’s for sure — you’ll have a new appreciation for swamps after taking one of these top tours.
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