As part of a really fun Spring Break Vacation to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama we packed the grandkids in the car as they were complaining about having to leave the beach and we headed to Spanish Fort which is about 40 miles north of Gulf Shores for an airboat ride with Airboat Adventures.. We got to our rendezvous point early so we could enjoy drinks and a good lunch at Blue Gill Restaurant. We drew straws to form two groups of five each and then flipped a coin to see which group would go first. Just after our flip a bright orange air boat pulled up to the dock in front of the restaurant and as we walked down to the boat we were warmly greeted by Mike Pillion, the owner and skipper of Airboat Adventures. .
Mike was manager of Meaher State Park for 25 years and when he decided to retire from the State Park he wanted leverage his love of working with tourists and his wealth of knowledge about the bays and delta. So he bought himself a 496 horsepower airboat that can skim across 2 to 3 inches of water at up to 50 miles an hour.
The first group of adventures, which was all of us guys, boarded the airboat, put on our ear phones, and headed out the channel to Chocolatta Bay for a 30 minute ride in search of some gators. It's a blast flying down the narrow Picada channel, back out into the Chocolatta Bay, and up Conway Creek. In an airboat you're low to the water and the boat's flat bottom gives it the ability to smoothly glide across the water making it feel like you're doing 80 miles an hour. We skimmed across open water and just about caught a couple birds that were frantically running across the surface of the water, went through some narrow channels, and kept our eyes open for gators.
Mark has a good eye and his first spot was an Osprey nest that got blown away in some recent heavy winds and is currently being rebuilt in the same spot. Every couple minutes Mike would point out a couple eyeballs slowly skimming across the water, He would stop the boat and give us some interesting information about gators and the local area. The highlight was spotting a couple big gators sunning themselves on the bank with those sharp teeth hangout outside their lips!.
All too soon it was time to drop us off at the dock and take the rest of the family out for a ride. A fun and unique way to spend 30 minutes or so. Mark offers three different types of airboat rides:
Give him a call and book an adventurous airboat ride. Return to our article on a Spring Break Vacation to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama.