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Accessible Activities in Florida

Are you traveling somewhere? Don’t assume that an activity isn’t accessible! Jessica, who has Ataxia and uses a wheelchair, traveled to the Florida Keys with her parents in June 2023. She went swimming with dolphins, fishing & snorkeling from a boat, and cruising through the Everglades. Read about her experiences and find all the links at the end.

Article offered by Day Undefined

Swimming with Dolphins and Airboating with Alligators: Accessible Activities in Florida

Guest Author: Jessica B.

Swimming with Dolphins

When we first arrived at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, we learned a little about the facility and took a small tour. This group focuses on therapy for people with special needs. They have different sensory programs and water therapy with the dolphins they train there. There is a waterway behind the facility for the dolphins to swim back and forth to the ocean. Then we headed down to the pools where the dolphins were. They fitted me with a life jacket, and I was ready to go. One of the workers, Danielle, helped me get into the water by using a scale they use for the dolphins. It lowers down into the water.

When I was in the water, Danielle held on to me. She told me to say different commands that the dolphins knew. I was surprised they knew so many tricks! Every time I thought we were done Danielle would tell me more commands that the dolphins knew. And every time they did a trick, the dolphins got some fish thrown to them. It was so much fun. There was a spin move, when two dolphins came over to me and I held on to their fins and they spun me around in circles. It was awesome! Another time I held a pole on the surface of the water for the dolphins to jump over. Bella, the oldest dolphin, took so many turns jumping! Two dolphins also pushed me around the pool using their noses on the bottoms of my feet. The dolphins also danced around me by standing up in the water on their tails before they waved goodbye to me. When I was done in the water, I sat on the scale as I was raised out of the pool. There was also a touch pool which had baby starfish and crabs – and if I’m remembering correctly – baby manta rays. Everyone there was very nice and helpful, and it was such a great experience.

Jessica swimming with the dolphins at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo. 

Snorkeling & Fishing – A Day at Sea

We also had a fun day on the water with Captain Mick of Tranquil Adventures. His boat was docked on Marathon Key, and I was able to go onto the boat in my wheelchair. We snorkeled first. Captain Mick drove the boat to shallow water so I could see what it was like to snorkel, since I have never done it before. Mick had a chair lift on the boat that lowered into the water. The water was nice and calm, and I picked up some seashells. I really enjoyed that part. Then we moved into deeper waters. We went to an area where a small dingy had been sunk and saw a lot of fish. I then swam over to sit in the chair to go back in the boat. We stayed in the deeper water, and I fished. I caught 20 Mangrove Red Snappers.

Jessica and her dad out on Captain Mick’s boat holding up one of the fish that she caught.

Cruising through the Everglades on an Airboat

The final accessible activity that I want to share was with Captain Gerald from Everglades Airboat Excursions, near Weston, Florida. He took us on a ride through the Everglades in a wheelchair accessible airboat. We met up with Captain Gerald at a roadside park with a boat launch. (Warning: There are no restrooms there!) The airboat has a wheelchair ramp on the front, and I was able to take my chair onto the boat. It did not have any belt or attachments for my chair, but the boat did not go very fast. There were also coverings for our ears in case the airboat got too loud. It was noisy! Our 2-hour tour took us on a nice trip into the Everglades. We saw a bunch of birds and lily pads and wildflowers everywhere. It was amazing. We also spotted a large alligator sunning itself.


Captain Gerald lives on an extensive camp (Old Glory Camp) in the Everglades, which he says is accessible, but we didn’t try to maneuver out of the boat and onto the grass. He told us that he is the only person in all of Florida who is licensed for breeding and releasing endangered turtles. He has cooking colanders all over his yard to protect the turtles from prey. Last year he released 11,000 of those turtles into the Everglades. After that, we headed back through the Everglades to where we started.


The front of Captain Gerald’s airboat in the Everglades and a beautiful white wildflower.

Curious to learn more? Check out these links:

Jessica is also a reviewer for Day Undefined, where you can find reviews over 100+ everyday products for accessible living.

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