September 27, 2022

Best New Orleans Swamp Tours

After strolling through cemeteries, partying on Frenchmen Street and perusing museums, you may want to take a break from New Orleans’ lively atmosphere – and a swamp tour may be just the thing you need. You’ll exchange city attractions for beautiful scenery, calm waters and the chance to spot some native wildlife. To help you select the tour that suits your needs, U.S. News compiled the best New Orleans swamp tours using both traveler opinion and expert recommendations.

If you’re adding a swamp tour to your itinerary, know that many of these excursions are at least a 30-minute drive outside of the city. And if alligators are your top reason for trekking to the swamp, plan for a spring or summer tour, as alligators enter a state of brumation (a modified period of hibernation) during the cold weather months.

Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours – Manchac Swamp Kayak Tour

Price: From $60
Duration: 2 hours

According to the tour company, novice kayakers will appreciate this two-hour paddle in Manchac Swamp as it is especially suitable for beginners. During the tour, you’ll wind your way through the swamp’s calm waters and take a gander at the local wildlife. For an even more memorable experience, the company suggests taking the early morning or evening tour to see the swamp bathed in warm light. Summer and early fall tours will give you the best chance for seeing alligators and turtles. Reviewers say you’ll gain lots of insight not only about the area’s ecology but also about local history. Tours depart daily at 9 and 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; additional tour times may be available in peak season.

Tickets cost approximately $60 per person. The company also runs tours of the Honey Island swamp and a half-day kayak tour through the Shell Bank bayou.

Cajun Pride Swamp Tours – Swamp Tour by Boat

Price: Adults from $27; kids from $16
Duration: 1.5 hours

This experience takes you deep into the Manchac Swamp for a look at local flora and fauna and the Cajun town of Frenier. As you travel by tour boat through the company’s private wildlife refuge, you may spot alligators, turtles, raccoons and bald eagles, but the highlight for many reviewers was being able to hold baby gators, and possibly other critters, on board. Visitors also rave about the fun and informative guides.

Tours run 90 minutes and depart multiple times daily. Tickets start at $27 for adults and $16 for kids ages 4 to 12. If you book online in advance, you’ll save some money on each ticket. Hotel pickups are available, but cost extra. The company also offers an outing that combines a swamp tour with a visit to Oak Alley Plantation.

Cajun Encounters – Daily Swamp Tours

Price: Adults from $25.75; kids from $19.75
Duration: 2 hours

Lasting approximately two hours, Cajun Encounters’ daily tour of the Honey Island Swamp takes place on a flat-bottomed boat. Each ride includes commentary from a friendly guide as you look for alligators, wild boar, owls and more. Tourists say the guides are informative and fun and highly recommend the tour, but caution there are many bugs.

Tickets start at $25.75 for adults and $19.75 for children ages 4 to 11; hotel transfers cost extra. Tours run several times daily. Cajun Encounters also runs VIP tours (which have up to 10 passengers) of the swamp as well as tours of the city.

Best New Orleans Swamp Tours

(Getty Images)

Airboat Adventures

Price: From $109
Duration: 2 hours

With this tour operator, you can expect interesting guides and multiple glimpses of alligators as you weave through 20,000-plus acres of cypress swamps. Tours run in both small boats, which hold up to eight passengers, and large boats, which accommodate up to 30 people. After your roughly two-hour airboat ride, take some time to explore the company’s indoor facility, which houses Sugar, an albino gator. Reviewers enjoy the tour and its guides and suggest opting for a small boat tour, as the small airboats can access more remote corners of the swamp. Both small and large airboat tours run multiple times daily.

Tickets for the small airboat start at $109 per person; tickets for the large airboat start at $79. Pregnant women, children younger than 5 and people with back and neck injuries are not permitted to ride on the airboats. Pets, including service animals, are prohibited due to the loud noise from the boat. The company provides ear protection, but you may want to bring your own if you are extra sensitive. Hotel pickup is available for an additional fee (about $20).

Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours & Airboat Tours – Jean Lafitte Traditional Swamp Tour

Price: Adults from $29; kids from $12
Duration: 2 hours

During this nearly two-hour excursion, tourgoers will travel through the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve’s Barataria Preserve to see the moss-draped cypress trees, a variety of plant life and native wildlife like mink, nutria (a large rodent similar to a beaver) and alligators. Because the tour is conducted on a flat-bottomed boat, it’s family-friendly and there’s even a restroom on board. Travelers enjoy the tour guides who create a fun atmosphere. They also appreciate the chance to hold a baby alligator while on the boat. Tours run daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. There’s a seasonal 4 p.m. tour as well.

Tickets start at $29 for adults and $12 for children ages 4 to 12. Round-trip transportation to your hotel costs extra and is available on the weekends only. Jean Lafitte also operates airboat tours.

New Orleans Airboat Tours

Price: From $98
Duration: 2 hours

Travelers agree that New Orleans Airboat Tours provides a fun and educational experience. Each airboat excursion lasts roughly two hours and gives you an up-close look at wild alligators. You may even get the chance to hold a baby gator at the end of your ride. Tours operate at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. daily; additional rides depart at 4 and 6 p.m. seasonally.

Tickets start at $98 per person for tours on a small airboat. You’re welcome to bring your own refreshments along (except for glass containers) and there’s a complimentary cooler on the boat. Transport to and from your hotel costs an extra fee. You can only book tickets by calling the company. New Orleans Airboat Tours also offers private tours.

Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours

Price: Adults from $29; kids from $19

Participants say that while guides of Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours are captivating, what they truly enjoyed was the variety of flora and fauna on display during the boat ride. Guides, who are natives of South Louisiana, narrate the two-hour tours with facts and stories about the area. Along the way, travelers may spot alligators, deer, osprey, hogs, turtles, herons and more along with the traditional cypress trees. Tours depart several times daily.

Tickets start at $29 for adults and $19 for children 12 and younger; transportation to and from New Orleans hotels costs extra.

Best New Orleans Swamp Tours

Alligator sightings are a top reason many travelers go on a swamp tour.(Getty Images)

Gray Line – Swamp and Bayou Tour

Price: Adults from $55; kids from $30
Duration: 4 hours

This tour is perhaps most convenient for travelers staying in New Orleans as it departs from the French Quarter. After hopping aboard the coach bus, you’ll be driven to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana to board Gray Line’s boat. During the tour, you’ll get the chance to see egrets, raccoons, alligators and snakes. Along the way, guides will share details of the local ecology. Travelers overall enjoy the tour, saying the bus ride (which is included in the ticket price) is convenient. Though they loved the scenery, some found the tour a bit dry and wish they had selected an airboat tour instead.

Tours depart daily at 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. in November and December. From March through October, tours depart at 8:45 and 10:45 a.m. as well as 12:45 and 2:45 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $55 for adults and $30 for children ages 6 to 12. Gray Line also offers plantation tours, city tours and cemetery tours in New Orleans, among other offerings.

Gators & Ghosts – Airboat Swamp Tour

Price: From $59
Duration: 2 hours

Tourists agree that Gators and Ghosts delivers on its promise for an exhilarating boat ride. Along the two-hour tour, you’ll zip through the swamp to see local Louisiana wildlife. For many, seeing gators up close and getting the chance to hold a baby alligator are memorable highlights.

Tour prices vary depending on the boat size you select; Gators and Ghosts operates small, medium and large boats that accommodate six to 30 passengers. Tickets start at $59 per person and transportation from the city costs extra. Tours on all boats depart at 9:45 a.m., noon and 2 and 4 p.m. Gators & Ghosts also operates ghost tours and cemetery tours in New Orleans, among other options.

Louisiana Tour Company – Swamp Boat Tour

Price: Adults from $52; kids from $25
Duration: 2 hours

From the experienced, knowledgeable guides to the amiable shuttle drivers, travelers consistently praise Louisiana Tour Company’s swamp boat tour. During the almost two-hour tour, you’ll see a Native American burial mound, a fishing village, numerous critters and beautiful swamplands. Boats have seats, a roof and windows to help maximize passenger comfort in all weather. Another bonus? Transportation to and from your hotel is included.

Tickets start at $52 for adults and $25 for children 4 to 12. Children 3 and younger can enjoy the tour at no cost. Pickups from hotels start at 8 and 10:20 a.m. as well as 12:30 and 3 p.m. Note: The 3 p.m. tour is seasonal. You can also save some coin by driving yourself to the company’s dock. Louisiana Tour Company also operates airboat tours of the swamp.

New Orleans Swamp Tour FAQs

What Is a Swamp Tour in New Orleans?

Swamp tours explore the swamps – forested land filled with water – of southern Louisiana. The main draw for many tourists is to view the swamp’s most famous inhabitants: alligators.

How Much Is a Swamp Tour in New Orleans?

You can expect to pay at least $30 per person for a swamp tour. Fees vary depending on the company and type of vessel used to explore the swamps.

Interested in more New Orleans tours? Check out the:

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