April, 2023

Skimming Across Lake Kissimmee

One of our neighbors once said to us If you want a truly unique experience, then you need to take a ride on an air boat on Lake Kissimmee.

Well, based on their recommendation we picked a date and made reservations.

Come our given day we awoke to beautiful blue skies and seasonable temperatures. So, off we went. It took a little over an hour to get to Grape Hammock Air Boat Rides located on the south end of Lake Kissimmee.

Now, about the name – Grape Hammock. A bit of research and I discovered – according to local legend – that the name came from the large number of wild grapes in the area and from the groups of trees called hammocks that dot the shoreline.

Regarding Lake Kissimmee, some more research and I learned that it is the third largest lake in Florida and lies at the headwaters of the Everglades. As for how deep it is. . .

Let’s just say it isn’t very deep at all. On average the majority of the lake is only 5 feet deep, with a few spots around 12 feet. This guy no doubt wandered out into the water from Brahma Island. Brahma Island is a privately owned island near the lake’s southwestern shore. The state reached an agreement with its current owners that the island would never be commercial developed so it appears today much as it did say 30 years ago.

Okay, let’s go for a ride and see what we can discover.

This would be our ticket to getting out on the lake and around Brahma Island. Our guide and operator was a young man who purchased his first air boat when he was thirteen. He grew up in the area and on the waters of Lake Kissimmee. In so many words, he knows the lake.

And he proved it when he took us on an hour plus ride that wove in and out of small canals and in so many different directions that I lost all sense of direction.

Okay, the lake awaits us.

And this is the canal leading to it.

It’s amazing where an air boat can go. Through fields of lily pads and at times we were actually skimming over sand bars. Most of the time, according to our guide, we were in water that was only 2 inches deep – the type of water he prefers.

The area we were told is rich with wildlife so we were anxious to see what we could spot.

We first discovered a bald eagle. We were told that the land around Lake Kissimmee has one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in Florida.

Of course there were alligators galore.

There were any number of little ones. This one we were told is probably a year old.

There’s also quite a few of the much larger size. Definitely makes you think twice about taking a swim in the lake. Actually, more like a wade.

Remember Brahma Island? Currently it is a wild life sanctuary where you are apt to find almost anything. For instance, though we never saw them, there are several zebra on the island.

But we did spot several

bison in the waters near the island and on the island itself. And to think we went all the way to Custer State Park to find these critters!

There were birds aplenty. This is a flock of Roseate Spoonbills. They are usually found in small flocks and usually feed in shallow, murky waters.

Various types of deer also call the island home.

All in all, though the ride was only a bit over an hour the time flew by quickly. It proved a delightful way to spend an afternoon in Florida. The air boat allowed us to skim through the shallows and dance across the wider part of the lake. At one point our guide had the boat spinning like a top. It was an absolutely thrilling ride. My advice, if you are ever in this area make the time to take an air boat ride out of Grape Hammock Fish Camp. You’ll be glad you did.


  1. We did that twice at Grape Hammock. Loved it and yes, I would highly recommend it. Glad you experienced it.


  2. That sounds like a fun afternoon! My brother, who lives in Florida, had a job driving one of the air boats in the Everglades many years ago. Seeing the wildlife – especially the bald eagles and the rosetta spoonbills would make my day! Barb and you look very happy! Sometimes the best stuff is right in our own backyard!


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