New Orleans Swamp Tour Reviews
This post is a review of the best New Orleans swamp tours available to you, including tips on saving money. Exploring one of the swamps surrounding New Orleans is one of the most interesting things you could do as a day trip from the city. Aside from alligators, the swamps are teeming with wildlife, from bald eagles, herons, egrets, mink, turtles as well as flora and fauna. And if you are considering taking a swamp tour, then you will quickly see that there are many companies to choose from as well as options to explore the swamps.
All swamp tour companies operate in either the Honey Island Swamp, which is approximately a 45 minute drive northeast of the French Quarter, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, which is approximately a 30 minute drive south of the French Quarter or the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, approximately a 30 minute drive west of the Quarter. You could choose a swamp boat, an airboat, a kayak or canoe or you could hike. Some companies will even pick you up from downtown hotels and B+B’s. Click the links below to learn more about each option. And don’t forget to check out Free Tours by Foot’s cemetery, voodoo, ghost and other New Orleans tours.
TIP: If you are considering the New Orleans Pass, a tourist discount card, then keep in mind that it already includes two swamp tour experiences at no additional cost. You may also be interested in our Plantation Tours.
There are numerous companies offering tours of the surrounding swamps via swamp boats (see their video above). These boats generally carry approximately 22 people, though some offer smaller (and more expensive) swamp boat tours. Expect to pay at least $20/adult and $13/child (though there are occasional discounts) if you drive up and at least $42/adult and $21/child if you also include transportation from downtown New Orleans hotels. Tours last approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, and this is consistent among all companies. Swamp boats offer an easy and relatively affordable way to experience New Orleans’ swamps and bayous.
This company is probably the largest and most well known and best-reviewed outfit. They are our choice for an operator because their size means that they usually can fit you in. They use 22 passenger swamp boats for their public tours and have 10 passenger swamp boats for private bookings. They offer online booking, which is not something that many other companies offer (which we find annoying). Cajun Encounters operates in the Honey Island Swamp. They will pick-up from just about any hotel in downtown New Orleans. They have an excellent review profile, averaging 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor. Read our post reviewing all of Cajun Encounters tours.
Tour Start Times:
If you choose to be transported, then the pick-up times are as follows:
|Pickup Time||Tour Time||Return Time (appr.)|
|8:00 – 8:30 am||9:30 am||12:45 pm|
|10:30 – 11:00 am||12:00 pm||3:40 pm|
|1:15 – 1:45 pm||2:45 pm||6:00 pm|
|3:30 – 4:00 pm||5:00 pm (seasonal)||7:45 pm|
- Self Drive Up – Adult $29, Child $19 – Purchase tickets
- With Transportation – Adult $56, Child $36 – Purchase tickets
- Child tickets are for 3-12 years old.
- 2 and under are free.
Gray Line is a national brand with a licensee in New Orleans. Gray Line offers tours with large swamp boats. They also offer airboat tours. They only offer tours with transportation from the French Quarter, which depart from their ticket office on Toulouse St. and the Mississippi River (map). There are no hotel pick-ups. They have a very good review profile.
Tickets (as of January 2018)
- $51.00 Adults
- $28.00 Kids 6-12
- $45.25 Seniors 65+
- Book online here.
This product is also part of their Swamp/Plantation combo ticket.
- Nov 1 – Dec 31 – 11 am & 1 pm Daily
- Jan 1 – Feb 29 – 11 am & 1 pm Daily
- Mar 1 – Oct 31 – 8:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm & 2:45 pm Daily
- Nov 1 – Dec 31 – 10:45 am & 12:45 pm Daily
Like Cajun Encounters, this company is focused on swamp and bayou tours. Cajun Pride is unique from other companies in that they operate in their own private swamp, which they claim means that your boat will be alone on the water. They have a good review profile on TripAdvisor. Since their tours are the Maurepas Swamp to the west of the city, this company may be a good option for those who are also planning a trip to Laura Plantation. One bonus is hotel pick-up from most New Orleans hotels. Read our detailed post reviewing all of Cajun Pride tours.
Ticket Prices (online prices are shown)
- Without Transportation
- $27 – Adults
- $16 – Child (4-12)
- More info and to book online.
Tour Start Times
- Daily all year @ 9:30 am, 12 noon, + 2:15 pm
- 4:15 pm runs March 1 – October 1
NOTE: Currently the “with transportation” option is not being offered. It will be offered to start on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.
Cajun Pride does offer a number of other great tours, including a combination ticket for $98 for Adults and $60 for Children where you get a swamp tour AND a visit to either Laura Plantation or Oak Alley Plantation.
Learn more about Oak Alley Plantation at Oak Alley Plantation Tickets, Tours and Reviews.
HONEY ISLAND SWAMP TOURS (DR WAGNER’S) –
This outfit also focuses on just swamp and bayou tours. As their name makes clear, they operate in the Honey Island Swamp. They claim that they use small swamp boats, but they appear to use the standard 20 passenger swamp boats. They also have a good review profile. They provide two options, drive-up and hotel pickup.
***Online purchases are only possible on Viator*** If you visit Dr. Wagner’s website to book, you will need to fill out a form to request a tour and they will call you to confirm. They appear to only accept cash or check and not credit cards.
- Without Transportation
- $23 – Adults
- $15 – Child (under 13)
- Purchase here.
- With Transportation from French Quarter
- $48 – Adults
- $32 – Child (under 13)
- Purchase here.
Tour Start Times
- Daily all year @ 9 am, 11:30 am + 2 pm
- Departures from New Orleans are 7:45 am and 12:30 pm.
- 4:30 pm runs seasonally
Ultimate Swamp Adventures – If you are considering purchasing the New Orleans Power Pass, keep in mind that this company’s swamp tour is included in the price. It only includes the tour and not the ride to the swamp, which you could arrange with Ultimate Swamp Adventures for an additional $15.
Cajun Critters – Like the other companies listed above, this company offers 2-hour swamp boat tours. This outfit heads into the Jean Lafitte Swamp, due south of the French Quarter.
Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
Click on map for names and locations of tours.
There are a few companies that offer airboat tours. The biggest advantage of airboat tours is that they are usually smaller than swamp boats and therefore can get deeper into the swamps, especially when the rivers and bayous are at low tide. Airboats are faster than swamp boats and can be more thrilling, but they are more expensive. There are restrictions on who could take these tours, including pregnant women, children under 5, those who are physically disabled or have neck or back problems and service dogs.
GRAY LINE AIRBOAT ADVENTURES –
In addition to their swamp boat tours, Gray Line also offers tours of Jean Lafitte Swamp on airboats. They offer large airboats (15-27 passengers) and small airboats (6-8 passengers). Their small airboats can go deeper into the swamps. There are no hotel pickups. Gray Line does not operate their own boats, rather they have a license with Airboat Adventures Tours (see below).
- Get $3 off all Gray Line with code FTBF
- $75 – Large airboat
- $95 – Small airboat
- Book online here.
- 8:45 am (summer only)
- 10:45 am
- 12:45 pm
- *2:45 pm – seasonal time
AIRBOAT ADVENTURES TOURS –
This outfit operates in the Jean Lafitte Swamp. They offer drive-up and hotel pickup pricing. Like many of the swamp tour companies, they seem to not take online bookings directly. Prices online are not consistent, and it looks like their drive-up price for a large air-boat is cheapest on Viator.
- Self-drive to swamp
- Hotel pick-up
- $75 – per person for large airboat
- $95 – small airboat
- Hotel pick-up is run by Grayline.
- Book online here.
- 9:45 am
- 12:00 pm
- 2:00 pm
- They offer a seasonal 4 pm and 6 pm tour
- Hotel pickup times are approximately 1 hour before listed departure times.
Other Companies Offering Airboat Tours:
- Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
- Big Easy Swamp Adventures
- Cajun Style Swamp Tours
Arguably the best way to explore the swamps and bayous around New Orleans is in a kayak or canoe. No other method can get you deeper into the swamps than by small craft. However, you will lose range, as you will not have the benefit of a high-speed engine. And if you are concerned about the danger from alligators, you shouldn’t be. Alligators avoid humans unless confronted and surprised. Kayak and canoe tours are usually a bit more expensive than the swamp boats, but cheaper than airboats.
New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours
Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor! Within 30 minutes of the hustle and bustle of New Orleans, lie the bayous, swamps, and rivers that have shaped the history and geography of the Crescent City. With an experienced guide at the helm, New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tour offers picturesque 2 – 2.5 hour narrated kayak trips through locations such as Manchac Swamp, the Pearl River, Honey Island Swamp and Cane Bayou. Groups of 2 – 12 are easily accommodated, with private tours available for larger groups.
Prices start at $59/person, and transportation can be arranged when booking, for an additional fee ($20/person roundtrip from two locations in the French Quarter, or $40/person round trip from your hotel or other specified location) Tours currently launch at 9:30, 12:30, and 3:30, and your guide will notify you via email or cell of the launch site. New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours Tel 504-571-9975
Canoe and Trail Adventures
Rated 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor! Enjoy a 2-3 hour kayak or canoe tour through one of the last undeveloped bayous that feed into Lake Pontchartrain, while getting immersed in the ecosystem of Louisiana. Locally owned and operated, your tour fee includes kayak/canoe rental, safety gear, waterproof cases (for phones/cameras/bags), light snacks and water, and an experienced guide. Groups average 10 paddlers, although larger groups are welcome – please contact the company directly for private tours and discounts.
Prices are $59/Adults and $35/Child (6-12). Transportation is available to/from New Orleans for $15/person. Tours go out Monday, Wed, Thurs, and Friday at 10 a.m. (for those needing transportation) and 11:00 a.m for those driving. Tuesday tours are at 11 a.m. and do not include transportation. Canoe and Trail Tel 504-233-0686
- Wild Louisiana Tours
Offering a 2 – 3 hours “Manchac Magic” kayak and canoe tours, experienced tour guides will lead guests on a relaxing, educational journey down the Manchac wetlands. Discover the bayous and waterways that many of New Orleans’ founding fathers explored, and examine the ruins of Ruddock, LA, a now-deserted logging community. www.wildlouisianatours.com Tel 985-205-1527
Kayak – Iti – Yak offers a 2 and 3-hour daily tour of Bayous St John and Bienvenue, as well as a 4 hour “Pontchartrain Paddle,” guaranteed to burn off all those beignets! www.kayakitiyat.com Tel 985-778-5034
- Jean Lafitte National Park Service
While canoeing and kayaking through the Park are definitely great ways to explore this area, the Barataria Preserve in Marrero is currently impassable, due to overgrowth of aquatic vegetation. Be sure to check the Park’s website for more information. www.nps.gov/jela Tel 504-589-2133
An extremely cost effective way (if you have a car) to experience the swampland near New Orleans is to take advantage of the National Park Service, which leads hikes through the Barataria Preserve, a southern unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve located about a 30 minute drive south of the French Quarter. The Park Services operates a visitors center with exhibits highlighting the development of the swamp area. You can pick up self-guided maps here and join a regularly scheduled park ranger hike from here. You can also pick up self-guided maps to explore on your own. A description of the hikes can be found here.
Barataria Preserve Unit, 6588 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072 (map) (504) 689-3690 (ext. 10)
In addition to this option, you can also visit Bayou Sauvage for free and see a lot of incredible native species. The US Fish & Wildlife Service provides both a map of the bayou and a list of the types of birds you can see in the area. Whether you’re interested in bird watching or you want to see other animals such as alligators, this is a wonderful opportunity to get a close look at local wildlife in their natural habitat. You’ll find Bayou Sauvage just east of New Orleans, but if you want to experience the natural beauty of Louisiana without leaving city limits, consider a trip to City Park. Visitors are welcome to check out the Couturie Forest for free. You can expect to see various types of native birds, trees and fish in a location which has several trails for walking and hiking.