Wild Thang Airboat Tours: Panama City Beach’s Ultimate “Eco” Tour


By Paul Bonnette

Let me invite you to take a tour across gator filled backwater creeks as you slide through the marshes keeping a close eye out for wildlife and birds of prey. No, I’m not inviting you to the bayous of Louisiana, but rather the brackish swamps and creeks of Panama City Beach. Wild Thang Airboat Tours offers visitors and guests the chance to take a thrilling, (and spinning) ride to experience Northwest Florida as you have never seen before. These airboats are highly maneuverable and can navigate through just inches of water as they glide through labyrinths of needle-rush grasses. Don’t get too comfortable though – this isn’t just a Sunday joyride. The captain frequently likes to thrill guests with 180-degree spins, and if that doesn’t sufficiently entertain you, don’t worry… he has plenty of jokes as well (if you want extra jokes, I strongly recommend going with Captain Ron’s boat!). The airboats can seat up to 16 passengers and reach speeds of 30-40mph which means it can get quite loud. Thankfully headphones are provided for hearing protection.

Wild Thang Airboat Photo by Nikki Bonnette
Wild Thang Airboat Photo by Nikki Bonnette

Wild Thang Airboat Tours is located just off Highway 79 beside Boondocks Restaurant and offer a variety of tour options including a half-hour ride designed to be a quick, exhilarating scenic tour with the chance to spot dolphins, manatees, sharks, and native birds. For those who want a better chance at seeing more of the creeks as well as plenty of fresh and saltwater marine life such as alligators, I recommend taking the one-hour ride which gives more time for those 180-degree spins, even more jokes, and more time to spot wildlife at larger creeks. Keep a close eye on land as well for wild hogs, deer and even bears.

For those who want the ultimate after-dark tour, hop on the airboat just after sunset as the crew takes off to shine their spotlights on the lookout for the red eyes of Alligators hunting their prey. Be advised that this extremely popular tour can book up weeks in advance so book your reservation early!

Wild Thang Airboat Tours offers something for every member of the family from learning fun and interesting facts about Florida’s ecology to searching the marshlands and creeks for dolphins, sharks, herons, alligators, bald eagles and of course alligators. Not to worry if you don’t get a glimpse of a gator sunning itself in the hot sun as prior to the tour, guests get the chance to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures with the opportunity to hold and get a photo with their resident alligator.For those who want a souvenir of their backwater creek and marshland adventure, feel free to head to the dockside souvenir shop for t-shirts, magnets, jewelry and more.

For more information about tours and to make reservations visit www.wildairboat.com.