We left Peace River where we were staying at a campground for Everglades City. About 500 people live in Everglades City so by no stretch of the imagination is it a city. The location is ideal on Chokoloskee Bay with nearby Ten Thousand Islands. We were lucky as the area has a tropical savannah climate which means warm dry winters and hot humid summers. In the summer mosquito’s would definitely be around and we managed to avoid that pleasure. The Tamiami Trail, Highway 41 or better known as the original alligator alley passes just five miles north of Everglades City. The city has several restaurants and a couple of motels and Bed and Breakfasts as well as the location of the Everglades National Park Visitor Centre and several air boat tour companies.
The Everglades National Park is 1.5 million acres so it plays to make some plans. Below is the National Park website which gives more detailed information about what to see, where to go and activities.
Where we stayed?
We stayed at Ivey House located off the main road. It was a great place, our room was large with two Queen beds, clean and the beds were very comfortable. There also was a pool outside our room. Breakfast was continental with a wide varity and ample to set you up for a busy day in the Everglades. It cost us US$109 a night. Below is a link to the Ivey House on Tripadvisor with several reviews, ours is titled ‘Great spot in the Everglades’.
What we did?
We spent three days around Everglades City and did an air boat tour with Captain Jack, did several walks at Big Cypress Park and a boat trip out to 10000 islands where we lucky to see dolphins. We also saw a lot of bird life, a snake and many alligators. We chose Captain Jack’s air boat ride and did an hour-long trip in the mangroves which was a lot of fun. There are several air boat operators in the city and they all charge the same in a beautifully designed oligopoly. It cost us $39 each for the hour air boat ride. We also did a morning boat tour for an hour and half which cost $33 each. It was a nice boat trip taking you out to the islands and Gulf of Mexico. The highlight was dolphins and for me the bird life in seeing several species I had not seen before in Florida including cormorants.
We ate at several restaurants and my favourite was the Havana which is just down the road from Everglades City at a place called Chokoloskee. I had a great meal there enjoying the local delicacy stone crabs with a pina colada. Below is my review of the Havana restaurant.
I also enjoyed Clarissa’s restaurant which was a few minutes walk from our hotel. I tried a mullet entrée which was tasty. I asked the chef about why it tasted so good. In New Zealand we use mullet as a bait fish. He told me it was because they feed above oyster beds which gives the flesh a distinctive flavour. Avoid the Oysterhouse restaurant we ate their the first day and were unimpressed. It also is where tour buses stop so the food is made quickly and I did not how they avoided putting prices on the menu for stone crabs and other fish quoting market price.
I would love come back to the Everglades and spend some more time. There are several kayak trips you can do including one down to the town of Flamingo on the coast which takes around nine days. You also can hire kayaks for the day and go out to 10000 Islands but need to go out on the low tide and come back on the high tide otherwise you could get stuck out there because of the strong currents. My advice is to plan in advance and come around this time of year if you can or even a bit later as the temperature was lovely and it was not too humid.