While there are a number of swamp tours in the states along the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana is definitely where most are concentrated. When you search for “swamp cruises” or variants (“swamp tour,” “swamp boat tour,” and so on), the first few results are almost always for Louisiana. Louisiana’s position as the capital of swamp cruises makes sense, as so much of the state is in fact a swamp; the entire coast is basically a giant wetland, at least for now (rising sea levels are slowly absorbing the marshes into the sea, alas). Below we provide a guide to the swamp cruises of Louisiana, pointing you to who offers them and what you can expect while taking one.
Swamp cruises first came to our attention while we were researching whale watching cruises in Louisiana, which don’t exist. We were looking for alternatives to whale watching – essentially, boat tours that focus on seeing marine life – and the only thing we could find were swamp tours. So, there aren’t any cruises that focus on seeing creatures like whales and dolphins, but there are plenty of swamp cruises, which provide opportunities to see a host of different animals and plants. In the swamps of Louisiana, the biggest draw is probably the alligators, and every swamp tour we came across promotes alligators as the main attraction. However, swamps are diverse ecosystems that support many different life forms, like various kinds of reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds. Swamps are packed with wildlife, and that is one of the main reasons people are compelled to take swamp cruises.
Determining the number of swamp cruises in Louisiana depends on how you understand the “cruise” part of “swamp cruise.” In this context, we are using it very loosely, basically to mean any tour of a swamp that involves a boat. Some of these tours use relatively large boats that hold perhaps a couple of dozen people, but others are much smaller. There are a number of airboat tours, for instance, and there are also some tours that involve only kayaks. Naturally, the boat you use will impact the orientation of the tour and what you are able to accomplish – you can obviously cover more swamp in an airboat than in a kayak, for instance – but the aim of any swap cruise is similar. The best list of swamp tours in Louisiana we’ve been able to find is on the New Orleans Official Guide website, but this list isn’t exhaustive because it obviously focuses on the New Orleans area. It is therefore necessary to search for swamp cruises in your particular region if you aren’t in New Orleans, and even if you are in the city, it never hurts to do a little extra research if you have the time.
If you are in Louisiana and are interested in the defining ecosystem of the state, a swamp tour is definitely worth looking into. There are tons of them, and one could easily be fit into a morning or afternoon. If you are in New Orleans, it is worth starting with the list above, and if not, it is easy enough to find a swamp tour in whatever region you happen to be in.