Nature’s Theater: Top Spots For Wildlife Watching In The Everglades

The Everglades is among the most extensive wetlands in the world, spanning a magnificent 1.5 million hectares in South Florida. It is home to an abundance of animals, including the elusive Florida panther, American alligators, manatees, and hundreds of bird species.

The Everglades has something for everyone - whether you're an avid birdwatcher, reptile enthusiast, or someone who simply loves the outdoors. Any wildlife encounter is exhilarating!

So if you want to learn the best spots for sighting creatures in their natural habitats, keep reading our guide to the Everglades wildlife spotting.

Shark Valley: A Reptile Haven

Contrary to its name, you won't see any sharks in Shark Valley. Instead, you'll find alligators, wading birds, turtles, and snakes.

Migratory and local birds are a common sight here, and if you're an ardent birdwatcher, then Shark Valley is a must-visit. Among the birds sighted here are Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Snail Kite, and Barred Owl.

An endangered snail kite flies away with an Apple Snail.

You'll be able to spot alligators, turtles, snakes, otters, and birds throughout Shark Valley. Some of these animals come up along the path to get some sun, so it's easy to get a close view of wildlife.

Snowy egret, alligator and turtle in water at Everglades National park

Sometimes, the animals are so close it's difficult to keep the 25-yard distance rule imposed by most parks!

A great thing about Shark Valley is that you can explore it in many ways. Shark Valley is a 15-mile loop; you can take a leisurely walk, rent a bike or hop on a tram tour to explore.


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Anhinga Trail: A Short Walk Filled With Wildlife

The Anhinga Trail is a short half-mile walk along a canal. The trail gets its name from the myriad of Anhinga birds (aka Snake birds), seen just about anywhere on the course. You can watch them diving in the water and spearing their prey, and it's a sight you won't forget!

An Anhinga bird perched on a rock in front of water.

Herons and Egrets are common sightings on the Anhinga Trail. But, the real treat is that you can observe bird behaviors like courtship and nest building.

And, if it's alligators you want to spot, the Anhinga trail won't disappoint! Indeed, there are alligators here, lots and lots of gators! They're often spotted sunning themselves on the shorelines or bathing in the shallow waters.

With its diverse wildlife and picturesque sceneries, the Anhinga Trail is plausibly the best in the Everglades.

Here's a Tiktok video showing the nature-abundant Aningha trail:

@jas_blueming I woke up on a random Thursday and desperately needed time alone in nature. I ended up at #anhingatrail in the #everglades ♬ Summer - Joe Hisaishi & London Symphony Orchestra

Big Cypress National Preserve: A Home For Endangered Florida Panthers And Bonnetted Bats

The Big Cypress National Preserve sits beside Everglades National Park. It is home to a diverse range of habitats, making it a haven for unique wildlife.

Alligators, anhingas, herons, and egrets are common sightings here. The Cypress National Preserve is unique because it is home to two endangered species - the Florida panther and Florida bonneted bats.

Florida bonneted bats are the largest in the state. They are drawn to flock to Florida for its warm climate. If you're at the park at dusk, you can check them out, as they are seen flying through the park during this time.


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Visitors to Big Cypress National Preserve will be glad to know that the park has the largest area in South Florida where the endangered panthers can be found. To date, only about 120-230 adult Florida panthers exist, so if you're lucky, you might spot one on the trails at the park!

You can explore Big Cypress National Preserve by walking or joining a swamp buggy tour.

Flamingo Visitor Center: Haven For Aquatic Wildlife

When you've had your fill with alligator-watching, the Flamingo Visitor Center is an excellent next stop. Flamingo Marina is at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, making it a great spot to watch aquatic wildlife.

The best way to spot wildlife here is to get on a boat. Guest services offer two boat tours.

There's the Florida Bay Boat Tour to take you out to the picturesque Florida Bay. Look out for dolphins, manatees, and maybe even sharks!


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And then, there's the Backcountry Boat Tour that takes you up the Buttonwood Canal. The boat ride is a delight to bird enthusiasts for the variety of birds that can be spotted in the area.


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If you want to skip the boat tours, you can walk to the marina and enjoy the sight of manatees as they swim. And, because the marina is a saltwater territory, it isn't uncommon to spot the alligator's cousin, the crocodile, lurking nearby.

Here's a Tiktok video showing the aquatic life at the Everglades: 

@crazy_magic_world Manatee&friends Everglades boat trip by Captain Allen #manatee #everglades #viral #fyp #Florida ♬ Originalton - CrazyWorld

Eco Pond: Secluded Spot For Bird Watching And Local Wildlife

If you're looking for a quiet, serene spot to take in the local wildlife, consider visiting Eco Pond. This small saltwater pond sits just beyond Flamingo Marina.

The pond is a great place to spot different bird life, including egrets, herons, and storks. And, on some days, the flamboyant Roseate Spoonbills will even make an appearance!

You'll often see ducks and turtles on the pond, and on occasion, you might even spot a crocodile!

Roseate spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) standing in water

Experience The Everglades At Its Peak: November To April - Optimal Weather And High Wildlife Sightings

November through April is the best time to go to the Everglades. Temperatures are low during this period, with clear skies and low humidity.

During this period, water levels are low, bringing the wildlife to gather around watering holes, making animals easier to spot! Low temperatures also mean fewer mosquitos.

That being said, these months see the most tourists in the Everglades, so be sure to make reservations in advance.

Preparing for your visit: Tips For Exploring The Everglades

Here are a few helpful tips for the best experience at the Everglades:

  • Bring bug spray and sunscreen. Mosquitos may or may not be present during your visit. Just to be sure, bring a bottle of bug spray. You'll need sunscreen because you'll be under the sun for a good part of the day, and there is little shade in the Everglades.
  • Keep drinking water handy. Don't get dehydrated on the trails. 
  • Bring along a good camera and binoculars. There may be times when you'll be viewing wildlife from a distance, so binoculars and a good camera with a zoom lens will be helpful. (Keep them securely in a dry bag until the moment you need them!)
  • Check tour schedules and book in advance.

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