The Everglades Airpark lies in the middle of the 10,000 Islands Region. It’s easy to
see from the air where this region got its name from. This unique landscape made up of thousands of small islands stretches over a distance of 25 nm – starting with Marco Island to several miles south of Everglades City. If you’re lucky enough to fly over this labyrinth at sunset, you will be treated to a light show, the likes of which you will never have seen before.
With a runway length of just 2400 ft, Everglades Airpark has one of the shortest runways in Florida. Even if most European pilots are used to such short runway lengths, it’s better to err on the side of caution because its proximity to the sea and a group of trees to the west can cause windy surprises. Once on the ground, this airfield will seem like the last outpost of civilization, which is rather unusual for Florida. There are no traffic lights or taxis. Golf courses or shopping malls? That’s a negative! Instead, you can experience nature at its purest with all kinds of outdoor recreational activities. The FBO has brochures and fliers from most of the local tour companies and tourist attractions.
I recommend picking a place first, because this then determines whether you will turn right or left at the end of the road leading out of the airport. Some airboat operators and restaurants also provide a shuttle service, which can be a good option depending on your sense of adventure, especially during the hotter time of year. Turning left takes you into town, turning right takes you to the Everglades National Park, to Glades Haven Marina and to the Oyster House. It’s about a 10-minute walk to get there.
Boat tours start from the Everglades National Park and take about 1.5 to almost 2 hours. The Ten Thousand Islands Tour starts at about 9:30 a.m. and runs hourly until about 5:00 p.m. The Mangrove Wilderness Tour starts from 9:00 a.m. and runs about every other hour until 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m.). Ranging in price from $30 to $40, these tours are not exactly cheap, but they
are definitely a genuine experience.
If you’d prefer exploring the region on your own, you can rent kayaks or motor boats at the Glades Haven Marina. However, the motor boats are rented out only on a day basis, not per hour. If you want a snack before heading out on a tour, the place to go is the Oyster House which serves all kinds of seafood as well as steaks. I highly recommend trying the stone crab, which is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico, or alligator. Located right next to the restaurant is a wooden observation tower where you get a great view of the Mangrove landscape.
If you walk out of the airport and take a left, you’ll reach a main traffic inter-section after about 15-20 minutes where you’ll see the Everglades City town hall at the north end of town. Take a right at the intersection and after a few minutes, you’ll see the Raw Bar restaurant, a rustic structure built on stilts where you can enjoy refreshments right on the water. Boats belonging to several airboat tour operators are also moored here. Right next door is the Seafood Depot.
Back at the main intersection, if you turn left and then take an immediate right onto N Storter Ave, you’ll come to the Triad Seafood Café after about 10 mi-
nutes. This restaurant also has a patio right on the water. Some guests arrive here by boat or seaplane. The Triad is very popular and well-known beyond Everglades City. It’s best to call in advance to check opening times and to reserve a table. (+1 239 695 0722). You can also request pick-up at the airport. It is always worth asking!
Held each year at the beginning of February is the Everglades Seafood Festival, an event that’s not to be missed.