Cooper Town Airboats

Florida Everglades – Coopertown Airboats

Located on the Tamiami Trail (US 41) about 11 miles east of the Florida Turnpike is small family run airboat operation, Coopertown Airboats. I was in Florida for the SATH World Congress and wanted to find an airboat operator that could take a wheelchair passenger out onto the Everglades so that I and Travability’s co-founder Deborah Davis could enjoy the experience.
After having spend the morning driving up and down the Tamiami Trail I discovered that most operators viewed an accessible airboat as one in which they were prepared to lift a passenger into.

The Coopertown experience was totally different, as they have two specially modified boats that allow a wheelchair passenger to roll right onto the front of the boat and back up against the front seat.

The following day Deb and I returned. There is disabled parking right at the front of the building with the airboat ticket counter off to the right. Through the gate and out the back is a small reptile park and picnic tables which we explored while the boat was prepared.

The roll down to the jetty is a gentle slope and a flat wide board is placed from the jetty onto the deck of the airboat. The boats will take two chairs. In our case with only the one it was backed up against the front seat allowing half the seat for the accompanying person allowing for conversation and a shared experience.

Once on the deck the chair is tied down with two ratchet straps to keep it extremely firm and secure. In addition to the chair tie down Deb was fitted with a waist harness that went around the back of her chair below the push handles and around her waist. The strong webbing belt was secured with Velcro that allowed for a quick release in the case of an emergency. The belt kept her secure in the chair. The big difference here was the attitude of the staff. Instead of just facilitating a person with a disability they had gone out of their way to modify two of their boats and thought about the issue of trunk control and been inventive in their solutions. Throughout they not only gave a reassuring impression that they knew what they were doing, but more importantly made us feel as if we were more than welcome.

After the initial apprehension had been put to rest we set off out into the everglades. Our guide was knowledgeable and entertaining with several stops along the route to spot the local wildlife and to explain the ecology of the everglades system. At one point we stopped at an island to allow me off to take some action photos of Deborah on the airboat making it a fun afternoon.

On return we stopped at their cafe for some frog legs and gator tails. The cafe does have one step at the front of it, which we managed easily and inside there is ample room with easily accessible tables. A portable ramp is available if required. The restrooms do not meet modern ADA standards, but there is ample room inside the male and female facilities for a wheelchair. There are no grab rails and the toilet height is low, something to keep in mind if you are visiting the facility.

Coopertown is the oldest operator on the Tamiami Trail having been in existence since 1945. An aiboat ride through the Florida Everglades is one of those “must do” experiences and here is an operator that not only accepts passengers with a disability but welcomes them from start to finish and has used their ingenuity to really make your outing and enjoyable and fun experience.

For more details contact Coopertown Airboats on (305) 226-6048 or email They are located at 22700 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL 33194. Web site is

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