7 Best Swamp Tours in New Orleans in 2023 – Goats On The Road

Estimated read time 15 min read


There are tons of fun things to do in New Orleans, but there are also plenty of great options for day trips outside of the city. While you’re there, be sure to check out a swamp tour in New Orleans. 

Since the city is located in the Mississippi Delta, it doesn’t take too long to get to a swamp from NOLA. In fact, many people add a swamp tour to their itinerary even if they have just 3 days in New Orleans. 

In just 30 minutes, you can find yourself out in the Bayou surrounded by gators. Who knows — maybe you’ll even spot the elusive Honey Island Swamp Monster!

There are several different options to choose from for visiting a New Orleans swamp. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at these swamp tours and I’ll give you some recommendations for the best companies to go with. I absolutely loved my trip to New Orleans and I’m sure you will too!

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alligator hidden in the water in new orleans swamp

What to Expect on a New Orleans Swamp Tour

First of all, let’s talk about where a swamp tour in New Orleans typically goes, what you can expect to see, and answer some commonly asked questions.

How Far are the Swamps from New Orleans?

The New Orleans swamps are reached in just 30 – 45 minutes from the French Quarter.

Some tours head north of the city to the Honey Island Swamp, some go south to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and others head west to Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

What Types of Swamp Tours are There?

The most popular swamp tours in New Orleans are by boat.

There are large pontoon swamp boats, which are probably the most popular choice. If you prefer a bit more excitement, you can go on an airboat instead.

Or perhaps you’d rather enjoy the swamp at a leisurely pace and paddle yourself around in a canoe or kayak (keep your hands inside the boat!).

Whichever type of tour you choose, you’ll get to explore the swamp and learn all about the environment from your knowledgeable guide. (I’ve listed more information about the different types of Bayou swamp tours below.) 

What Animals Will You See on a Swamp Tour?

A major highlight of a swamp tour in New Orleans is getting up close and personal with the creatures of the swamp, such as wild boars, egrets, herons, turtles, and alligators. 

swamp tours new orleans

During the fall and winter months, many cold-blooded animals hibernate. If you’re really hoping to see alligators on your swamp tour in New Orleans, you should try to visit the city in spring or summer.

Some tour operators say they can still find alligators in winter, but there’s no guarantee. 

How Long is a Swamp Tour in New Orleans?

Swamp tours typically take place during the day and last around 2 hours. There are additional tours at night on weekends in the summer months as well.

When booking a swamp tour in New Orleans, you usually have the option of getting yourself there or adding a pick-up service from your accommodation for an additional fee.

What is The Best Time to Do a Swamp Tour?

You can visit the swamp year-round. However, the best time to do a swamp tour is in the fall when the weather is cooler, the foliage is beautiful, there are fewer mosquitos, and lots of animals are around!

During the summer months, the weather is hot, humid, and sticky — plus, there are many mosquitos. BUT, all of the wildlife will be out and you’ll easily spot gators, birds, turtles, and snakes.

In springtime, the weather will be pleasant with lots of flowers in bloom. Most of the wildlife will be out and there will be fewer mosquitos than in summer.

You can actually join a swamp tour in New Orleans in the winter months as well. During this time, there will be a lot less foliage and since alligators like the warmer weather, they will be harder to spot.

However, you’ll be able to see deer, nutria, otters, minks, and birds. Make sure to dress warmly this time of year if joining an airboat swamp tour.

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What to Wear and Bring On a Swamp Tour

new orleans swamp tour

If you’re wondering what to wear on a swamp tour in New Orleans, it all depends on the weather forecast and which type of tour you’re going on.

You should always bring a poncho or raincoat, as there’s a good chance you’ll get a little wet out there.

On a hot and sunny day, you’ll definitely want to wear comfortable clothes like a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Make sure to drink plenty of water.

Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat as well. It’s not a bad idea to pack a light jacket, either, especially if you’re going on an airboat tour.

In the winter months, you should wear pants and bring a thicker jacket. In general, it’s a good idea to wear light clothing and just put on a few layers if it’s a bit colder. 

Whichever type of tour you go on, bring along some bug spray. There are definitely bugs in the New Orleans swamp and you don’t want them ruining your tour!

You’ll probably want to document this awesome experience, but make sure your device is protected. That means taking some kind of waterproof bag for your phone or just bringing a waterproof camera with you.

One thing you should definitely leave behind is any expensive jewelry. If you drop it in the swamp there’s a good chance that you’re not going to find it.

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How to See the Swamp (Types of Tours)

Now that you know a bit about what to expect, let’s take a look at the different kinds of swamp tours in New Orleans that you can choose from:

1. By Swamp Boat

swamp pontoon boat on the water in new orleans

Taking a swamp boat tour is a classic Louisiana experience. This is an easy and affordable option for a swamp tour in New Orleans. It’s possible to arrange a boat tour that includes hotel pick-up for around $40 (click here for details). 

Most swamp boats hold between 20-30 people. A lot of the companies also have smaller boats that they use for private swamp tours, but these are obviously a bit more expensive.

They move through the swamp at a leisurely pace, which is great for wildlife spotting. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the environment and its inhabitants from your guide. 

2. By Airboat

airboat tour new orleans

If you’re in search of a more exhilarating adventure, you can opt for an airboat swamp tour in New Orleans. These boats are propelled by a huge fan on the back and they can get cruising over 35 mph (53km)! 

In addition to higher speeds, the airboats can also access areas of the swamp where the traditional boats can’t. Thanks to their smaller size, they can venture deeper into the swamp. 

Airboats usually seat between 10-15 people. Taking an airboat tour with hotel pick-up typically runs about $75. You also have the option of paying a bit more to go on a smaller boat. Click here for more details.

While these tours are definitely a lot of fun, they’re not recommended for everyone. Pregnant women and very young children shouldn’t go on airboat tours. It’s also not a good idea if you have any back or neck issues.

3. By Canoe/Kayak

kayaking in the new orlenas swamp

A great option for taking a swamp tour in New Orleans while getting some exercise is by paddling a canoe or kayak. This allows you to get deeper into the swamps and bayous than any of the boat tours.

Canoe and kayak tours typically have between 2-10 people. These fun tours of the New Orleans swamp usually run 2-3 hours and are both fun and educational. You’ll need to be relatively fit and be ready to get up close with the animals!

Going on a canoe or kayak tour costs a bit more than going by swamp boat, but less than the airboat. The experience is very peaceful and is a great way to have a more personal experience. Typical prices are around $75 per person. Find out more here.

4. Going Hiking

two people hiking in the swamp with trees

If you have your own wheels, you can always explore the swampland around New Orleans on foot. Just head to the Barataria Preserve that’s located in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. 

There’s a Visitor Center at the preserve where you can check out an exhibit about the swamp and pick up a map to go on a self-guided tour. You can read all about the different trail options on their website.

They also have free walking tours given by a ranger at 10 AM from Wednesday to Sunday. This is the perfect option for those looking to fit in a swamp tour in New Orleans on a budget.

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5. Ziplining

woman ziplining through the trees

A more unique and exhilarating way to explore the swamp is to join a ziplining tour. You’ll be suspended above the swamp while admiring the animals and the panoramic views.

You’ll get to zip along 5 different lines and cross 2 suspension bridges. Plus, you’ll be learning about the swamp from your guide, with a chance to spot turtles, alligators, boar, snakes, deer, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and birds such as egrets and herons.

This is an adventurous way to see the New Orleans swamp! Click here for more details.

7 Best Swamp Tours in New Orleans

Here’s a look at some of the best swamp tour companies available in New Orleans, including relevant information such as tour times and prices.

1. High-Speed Airboat Ride

Lousiana Tour Company is a top-recommended company in NOLA. If you’re looking to go on a great swamp tour in New Orleans, they’ve got you covered with both swamp and airboat tours. Louisiana Tour Company also offers a small group airboat tour which is great. 

Their tours operate out of Marrero, which is just a 35-minute drive from the French Quarter. 

Just across from their dock is a 200-year-old cemetery that’s located around an ancient Native American burial mound. You’ll definitely hear some interesting stories about the area if you sign up for a New Orleans swamp tour with them.

Find out more about the fun airboat tours on offer, and book your spot, here.

2. Airboat and Oak Alley Plantation

  • Company: Louisiana Tour Company
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Cost: Airboat Tour and Oak Alley Plantation $150. Hotel pickup/drop off is included
  • Tour times: 8:15am
  • How to book: Online 
  • Meeting Point: 9706 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072, USA. Get directions.

Spend a full day out of the city on this combo tour which includes both a high-speed airboat tour in the Barataria Basin, plus a visit to the Oak Alley Plantation.

Enjoy a tour of the plantation home by local guides, while learning about the times of slavery. Wander around the home and explore the huge grounds – home to 28 huge oak trees (hence the name of the plantation). There’s also a blacksmith shop and a restaurant onsite as well.

In the swamplands, you’ll speed through the marshes on the airboat, but you’ll slow down to you can properly spot wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

This combination tour is a great day trip from New Orleans. Click here to learn more and book your airboat and Oak Alley ticket.

3. Manchac Swamp Pontoon Boat Tour

  • Company: Cajan Pride Swamp Tours
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Cost: Swamp boat $27 for adults with pick-up service
  • Tour times: 9:30, 12:00, 2:15 year-round; 4:15 from March 1 to October 1
  • How to book: Online 
  • Meeting Place: 110 Frenier Rd, Laplace, LA 70068, USA. Get directions.

If you’d rather cruise down the swamp at a more leisurely pace (rather than zipping by on an airboat), check out this tour which is aboard a pontoon boat (swamp boat).

If you want to learn the difference between crocodiles, alligators, and caymans, be sure to sign up for a swamp tour in New Orleans with Cajun Pride! Their guides are knowledgable and funny, which only adds to the experience.

One thing that sets these guys apart from other New Orleans swamp tours is that they actually have their own private swamp (Manchac Swamp). The wildlife is protected here so the animals aren’t shy. 

You really can’t go wrong with this tour as it’s great value for money! To learn more about the $27 tour with Cajan Pride (and to book tickets), click here.

4. Kayak Tours of the Swamp

  • Companies: NOLA Kayak Swamp Tours and Wild Louisiana Tours
  • Cost: Around $75

You’ll need to be somewhat fit for this type of NOLA swamp tour, but it’s a lot of fun. Paddle your way through the swamp and get up close to the wildlife (keep your hands inside the boat!).

The 2-3 hour leisurely paddle is an easy one that everyone can enjoy. With the slow-moving bayou, it’s a relaxing kayak trip filled with information, nature, and wildlife. No experience is necessary.

This is a unique way to explore the swamp. Kayak tours are available around Manchac Swamp and Honey Island. Have a look at the excursions available with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours and Wild Louisiana Tours.

5. Honey Island Swamp Tour

  • Company: Honey Island Swamp Tours
  • Rating: 5/5
  • Cost: $29, or $58 with pickup/drop off from your hotel
  • Tour times: 9:00, 11:30 and 2:00pm
  • How to book: Online
  • Meeting Point Location: 41490 Crawford Landing Rd, Slidell, LA 70461, USA. Get directions.

Hop aboard a small swamp boat and cruise through the wetlands of Honey Island Swamp. This protected nature reserve is located north of New Orleans on the shores of Lake Ponchartrain.

During the 2-hour tour, you’ll encounter egrets, herons, otters, alligators and more. You’ll pass by traditional Cajun villages while hearing local stories of fishermen and swamp pirates…

A visit to the Honey Island Swamp is one of the best things to do in New Orleans and makes for a fun couple of hours. Click here to learn more and book your spot. If you need return transport, click here for that tour.

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6. Airboat Adventures at Jean Lafitte

  • Rating: 4.8/5
  • Cost: Large boat $59; Small boat $89. $30 extra for round-trip transport
  • Tour times: 9:45, 12:00 and 2:00 (year-round), 4:00 & 6:00pm (seasonal)
  • How to book: Online or by phone at 504-689-2005
  • Meeting Point: 5145 Fleming Park Rd, Lafitte, LA 70067, United States. Get directions.

When it comes to airboat swamp tours in New Orleans, Airboat Adventures is definitely one of the best choices. They’re located just minutes from the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve so you can be out in the swamp in under an hour from the city center.

Their small boats hold 6-8 passengers while the larger ones can fit 15-30. The extra cost for a small boat tour is worth it for a more up close and personal experience and the ability to access hard-to-reach areas in the swamp. 

Before you embark on their tour, you can relax in their nice air-conditioned building that has a gift shop along with drinks and snacks for purchase. Enjoy the views from their outdoor patio, and be sure to meet Sugar — their rare albino alligator! Click here to book this airboat trip.

7. Go Ziplining Through the Maurepas Swamp

  • Company: Zip NOLA
  • Rating: 4.9/5
  • Cost: $89
  • How to book: Online
  • Meeting Point: 301 Peavine Rd, Laplace, LA 70068, United States. Get directions.

This has to be one of the coolest swamp tours in New Orleans! Hook yourself in and zip across 5 different lines while dangling over the Maurepas swamp.

After getting familiar with your equipment and a safety briefing, you’ll start the adventure from a 60-foot high platform. Check out the amazing views of the swamp, Lake Ponchartrain, the town of Frenier and the New Orleans skyline.

You’ll have a chance to spot lots of wildlife as well, including alligators, deer, boar, armadillos, snakes, egrets, and more. Have a look at this ziplining tour and book your spot.  

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of fantastic options for taking a swamp tour in New Orleans. Whether you decide to paddle yourself around in a kayak, hop on a swamp boat with a big group, or zip through the bayou on an airboat, you’re sure to have a great experience.

If you’re heading to Crescent City, be sure to add a swamp tour to your list of things to do! It’s fun partying on Bourbon Street and all, but it’s even better after a day of exploring the swamp and learning about all the amazing wildlife that calls it home.

So, are New Orleans swamp tours worth it? Absolutely! The value for money is excellent and the experience is one you won’t forget.

Some images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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