Since the city is located in the Mississippi Delta, it doesn’t take too long to get to a swamp from NOLA. In just 30 minutes, you can find yourself out in the Bayou surrounded by gators. Who knows — maybe you’ll even spot the elusive Honey Island Swamp Monster!
There are several different options to choose from for visiting a New Orleans swamp. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at these tours and I’ll give you some recommendations for the best companies to go with. What To Expect On A New Orleans Swamp Tour
First of all, let’s talk about where a swamp tour in New Orleans typically goes. Some head north of the city to the Honey Island Swamp, some go south to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and others head west to Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area.
All of these New Orleans swamps are reached in just 30 – 45 minutes from the French Quarter.
The most popular swamp tours in New Orleans are by boat. There are large swamp boats, which are probably the most popular choice. If you prefer a bit more excitement, you can go on an airboat instead. Or perhaps you’d rather enjoy the swamp at a leisurely pace and paddle yourself around in a canoe or kayak.
Whichever type of tour you choose, you’ll get to explore the swamp and learn all about the environment from your knowledgable guide. A major highlight of a swamp tour in New Orleans is getting up close and personal with the creatures of the swamp, such as wild boars, egrets, herons, turtles, and alligators.
During the fall and winter months, many of the cold-blooded animals hibernate. If you’re really hoping to see alligators on your swamp tour in New Orleans, you should try to visit the city in spring or summer. Some tour operators say they can still find alligators in winter, but there’s no guarantee.
Swamp tours typically take place during the day and last around two hours. There are additional tours at night on weekends in the summer months as well. When booking a swamp tour in New Orleans, you usually have the option of getting yourself there or adding pick-up service for an additional fee.
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What To Wear and Bring On A Swamp Tour
If you’re wondering what to wear on a swamp tour in New Orleans, it all depends on the weather forecast and which type of tour you’re going on. You should always bring a poncho or raincoat, as there’s a good chance you’ll get a little wet out there.
On a hot and sunny day, you’ll definitely want to wear comfortable clothes like a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat as well. It’s not a bad idea to pack a light jacket, either, especially if you’re going on an airboat tour.
In the winter months, you should probably wear pants and bring a thicker jacket. In general, it’s a good idea to wear light clothing and just put on a few layers if it’s a bit colder out.
Whichever type of tour you go on, bring along some bug spray. There are definitely bugs in the New Orleans swamp and you don’t want them ruining your tour!
You’ll probably want to document this awesome experience, but make sure your device is protected. That means taking some kind of waterproof bag for your phone or just bringing a waterproof camera with you.
One thing you should definitely leave behind is any expensive jewelry. If you drop it in the swamp there’s a good chance that you’re not going to find it.
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Various Types of Swamp Tours
Now that you know a bit about what to expect, let’s take a look at the different kinds of swamp tours in New Orleans that you can choose from:
Taking a swamp boat tour is a classic Louisiana experience. This is an easy and affordable option for a swamp tour in New Orleans. It’s possible to arrange a boat tour that includes hotel pick-up for just over $40.
Most swamp boats hold between 20-30 people. A lot of the companies also have smaller boats that they use for private tours, but these are obviously a bit more expensive.
They move through the swamp at a leisurely pace, which is great for wildlife spotting. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the environment and its inhabitants from your guide.
If you’re in search of a more exhilarating adventure, you can opt for an airboat swamp tour in New Orleans. These boats are propelled by a huge fan on the back and they can get cruising over 35 mph (53km)!
In addition to higher speeds, the airboats can also access areas of the swamp where the traditional boats can’t. Thanks to their smaller size, they can venture deeper into the swamp.
Airboats usually seat between 10-15 people. Taking an airboat tour with hotel pick-up typically runs about $75. You also have the option of paying a bit more to go on a smaller boat.
While these tours are definitely a lot of fun, they’re not recommended for everyone. Pregnant women and very young children shouldn’t go on airboat tours. It’s also not a good idea if you have any back or neck issues.
A great option for taking a swamp tour in New Orleans while getting some exercise is by paddling a canoe or kayak. This allows you to get deeper into the swamps and bayous than any of the boat tours.
Canoe and kayak tours typically have between 2-10 people. These fun tours of the New Orleans swamp usually run 2-3 hours and are both fun and educational.
Going on a canoe or kayak tour costs a bit more than going by swamp boat but less than the airboat. Typical prices seem to be around $60 for adults and $40 for children.
If you have your own wheels, you can always explore the swampland around New Orleans on foot. Just head to the Barataria Preserve that’s located in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
There’s a Visitor Center at the preserve where you can check out an exhibit about the swamp and pick up a map to go on a self-guided tour. You can read all about the different trail options on their website.
They also have free walking tours given by a ranger at 10 AM from Wednesday to Sunday. This is the perfect option for those looking to fit in a swamp tour in New Orleans on a budget.
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Best Swamp Tours in New Orleans
Here’s a look at some of the best swamp tours available in New Orleans, including relevant info such as tour times and price:
Cajun Encounters TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Cost: Pick-up included $56.75 adults, $36.75 children; self-transport $29.75 adults, $19.75 children Tour times: 7:30, 9:30, 12:15, 2:45, (3:30 & 5 are seasonal) How to book: Online Location: 941 Decatur St #101
This is definitely one of the best swamp tours in New Orleans. Cajun Encounters brings you to the famous Honey Island Swamp for a tour you’ll never forget.
Cajun Encounters has a few different options for exploring the New Orleans swamp. Their standard tour lasts two hours aboard a 22-passenger boat. They also have a smaller boat for their VIP tours which only fits 8-10 and can access more narrow waterways.
From May to September, you also have the option of joining a sunset swamp tour. The wildlife really comes out when the sun goes down, making for an incredible experience. Click here to learn more and to book your tickets online, or click this image:
Louisiana Tour Company TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Cost: Combination Tour, with Transportation, Swamp Boat and Plantation visit $119. Tour times: 9:40, 12:10, 2:10, & 4:15 (Seasonal) How to book: Online or by phone at 504-689-3599 Location: 9706 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA
Lousiana Tour Company is another name that comes recommended. If you’re looking to go on a great swamp tour in New Orleans, they’ve got you covered with both swamp and airboat tours.
Their tours operate out of Marrero, which is just a 35-minute drive from the French Quarter. Just across from their dock is a 200-year-old cemetery that’s located around an ancient Native American burial mound. You’ll definitely hear some interesting stories about the area if you sign up for a New Orleans swamp tour with them.
You also have the option of booking a combination tour. Choose between the Oak Alley or Destrehan plantation to go along with your swamp tour in New Orleans. You can also join their informative city tour before heading to the swamp to make for a great day in the Big Easy. For airboat tours, click here, or if you want to visit the plantation and the swamp click here to learn more and to book your tour online, or click this image:
New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours TripAdvisor Rating: 5/5 Cost: $59 for Manchac and $65 for Honey Island Tour times: Manchac Tour runs at 9, 11:30, 2, and 4:30; Honey Island runs at 4 How to book: Online or by phone at 504-571-9975 Location: They run tours in two swamps – Manchac and Honey Island
If you’d rather explore the New Orleans swamp at a more leisurely pace, why not join a kayak tour? The team at New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours must be doing something right, as they have a perfect rating on both TripAdvisor and Google!
They have two different options for taking a swamp tour in New Orleans by kayak. You can choose between taking a tour of the Manchac or Honey Island Swamp, both of which are fascinating places to explore.
They also have a combination tour that includes some kayaking in the Manchac Swamp along with a visit to a plantation. These tours either visit the Whitney or Oak Alley plantation depending on the day. They depart at 8 AM and last for eight hours. Tickets cost $175 per person for these tours.
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Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Cost: Swamp Tour $29 adults, $12 children; Airboat Tour $65 per person for a large boat or $85 for small; option to add round-trip transportation and/or lunch for an extra cost Tour times: 10, 12, 2, and 4 How to book: Online or by phone at 504-689-4186 Location: 6601 Leo Kerner Lafitte Pkwy, Marrero, LA
If you’re traveling with kids and have your own vehicle, it’s hard to top the excellent value provided by Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours. Children ages 0-3 are totally free and kids from 3-12 can join a swamp boat tour for just $12. If you’re considering picking up the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass, you’ll be happy to hear that their boat tour is included!
They even welcome school groups and have a picnic area, making this a great option for field trips. Forgot to bring a bag lunch? No worries! These guys also have the option of adding on lunch at Restaurant Des Familles. This Cajun-Creole eatery features great views of the bayou and plenty of famous New Orleans dishes on the menu.
In addition to their classic swamp boat tours, they also have airboat options available here. Powered by Chevy 454, 450 horsepower engines, these airboats will take you deep into the bayou for an unforgettable adventure.
Cajun Pride TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Cost: Swamp boat $27 for adults with pick-up service Tour times: 9:30, 12, 2:15 year-round; 4:15 from March 1 to October 1 How to book: Online Location: 110 Frenier Rd, Laplace, LA
If you want to learn the difference between crocodiles, alligators, and caymans, be sure to sign up for a swamp tour in New Orleans with Cajun Pride! Their guides are known to be very knowledgable and funny, which only adds to the experience.
One thing that sets these guys apart from other New Orleans swamp tours is that they actually have their own private swamp. The wildlife is protected here so the animals aren’t shy.
As with many other operators, Cajun Pride gives you the option to book a combination swamp + plantation tour. You can choose to visit either Laura or Oak Alley plantation in addition to checking out the New Orleans swamp. These tours depart at 10:30 and return around 6, with tickets costing $89 for adults and $55 for children.
To learn more about this tour with Cajan Pride (and to book tickets), click here, or on the image below:
Airboat Adventures TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Cost: Large boat $55; $20 extra for round-trip transport Tour times: 9:45, 12, and 2 (year-round), 4 & 6 (seasonal) How to book: Online or by phone at 504-689-2005 Location: 5145 Fleming Park Rd, Lafitte, LA
When it comes to airboat swamp tours in New Orleans, Airboat Adventures is definitely one of the best choices. They’re located just minutes from the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve so you can be out in the swamp in under an hour from the city center.
Their small boats hold 6-8 passengers while the larger ones can fit 15-30. The extra cost for a small boat tour is worth it for a more up close and personal experience and the ability to access hard to reach areas in the swamp.
Before you embark on their tour, you can relax in their nice air-conditioned building that has a gift shop along with drinks and snacks for purchase. Enjoy the views from their outdoor patio, and be sure to meet Sugar – their rare albino alligator!
Canoe & Trail Adventures TripAdvisor Rating: 5/5 Cost: Manchac Swamp and Moonlight Paddle tours cost $59 for adults and $49 for children; round-trip transport $20 Tour times: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 10 AM How to book: Online or by phone at 504-233-0686 Location: Click here for full directions as GPS does not work
For an eco-friendly tour of the New Orleans swamp, look no further than Canoe & Trail Adventures. They’ve been running tours here since 1972 and manage to retain a perfect rating, so you know you’re in good hands here.
Their classic kayak tour lasts for three hours and goes at a very laid-back pace. They provide all the equipment plus waterproof bags and cases for your phone or camera at no additional cost.
Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy the scenery of cypress trees covered in Spanish Moss while you spot wildlife. They have some of the most qualified and passionate guides around who will ensure you have an awesome time. They also run moonlight paddle tours by request if you want to see what the swamp looks like at night!
Ready for the Swamp?
As you can see, you’ve got lots of fantastic options for taking a swamp tour in New Orleans. Whether you decide to paddle yourself around in a kayak, hop on a swamp boat with a big group, or zip through the bayou on an airboat, you’re sure to have a great experience.
If you’re heading to the Crescent City, be sure to add a swamp tour to your list of things to do! It’s fun partying on Bourbon Street and all, but it’s even better after a day of exploring the swamp and learning about all the amazing wildlife that calls it home.
Have you been on a New Orleans swamp tour before? If you have any tips or recommendations, go ahead and leave a comment below.
Some images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
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