Honey Island Swamp Tour Review: Cajun Encounters Tours

Exploring a Louisiana swamp had been a long-standing travel goal for us, and finally, the chance arose during our stay in New Orleans. We opted for the Cajun Encounters Tour Company, choosing a boat tour with them.

The experience turned out to be truly memorable, and I’d like to share some of the highlights along with a few tips for anyone considering a tour of the Honey Island Swamp.

Honey Island Swamp Tour Review summary

The Honey Island Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters Tour Company takes you through a beautiful cypress swamp where you can have close encounters with alligators, raccoons, snakes, and many other types of swamp wildlife.

It’s about two hours long for the standard tour and we felt it was very worth it with price points for adults ranging from ~$33 to $60, depending on whether or not you drive to the location or get picked up.

If you’ve never explored a swamp you might be surprised how beautiful it is and how fascinating it is to see this type of terrain and learn about it.

Honey Island Swamp Tour boat

Where is the Honey Island Swamp Tour?

The Honey Island Swamp is located about 40 minutes east of New Orleans and is part of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area.

The address for the Cajun Encounters Tours building is: 55345 US-90, Slidell, LA 70461.

They have parking just outside of the red building and also on the other side of the highway. There’s a tunnel underneath the highway that you can take so that you don’t have to cross a busy road.

They also have tours that will pick you up on a bus and take you out to the swamps. It’s cheaper to drive yourself but ultimately you’ll have to decide if the convenience is worth it. See tour options here.

Honey Island Swamp Tour Cajun encounters

Our experience on the Honey Island Swamp Tour

Our tour was planned for 9:30 AM, and we made it to the Cajun Encounters Tours building approximately 30 minutes ahead, which is requested at booking.

Adjacent to the gift shop, there are ample restroom facilities, allowing you to comfortably prepare before embarking on your tour. It was proving to be a pretty beautiful day for us so we didn’t mind standing around for a little bit.

Honey Island Swamp Tour

Upon your arrival, enter the gift shop and proceed to the cashier’s desk for check-in.

At this stage, you will receive wristbands corresponding to your assigned group. Afterward, you can find a seat in the pavilion and await the announcement for your group to assemble.

On our visit, we were issued wristbands with purple and yellow LSU colors (errgh…).

But right on time our group was called, and we were instructed to take a seat on a bench.

I anticipated a lengthy wait and a comprehensive orientation, as some tours typically entail. To my delight, the process was quite efficient, and we didn’t have to linger for an extended period.

Our guide, “Captain Ketchup,” introduced himself, and we proceeded to the dock where the boats were located. Boarding was swift, and we were on our way in no time.

The covered boats feature benches along both sides, providing excellent views.

I find this seating arrangement preferable to the ones where everyone faces forward. Just make sure that you follow the rules and refrain from standing over leaning over the rails, etc. It’s okay to stand when the boat is stationary but your guide will let you know.

Personally, I would recommend sitting by the captain so that you can ask questions and also get help spotting wildlife.

river boat

A few minutes before 9:30 AM, we set off on our boat tour.

While the boat generally maintains a slow or moderate speed, navigating through the Pearl River offers some spurts of speed, so hold onto your hat and glasses.

If you’re doing a morning tour, especially outside of the summer months, be sure to bring layers because it can get quite chilly with that wind. Also, we were told the temperatures on the water are cooler than surrounding areas by 5 to 10 degrees!

If you’re visiting during the summer be sure to bring some water bottles with you or purchase them at the gift shop, especially if you have been having a lot of fun on Bourbon Street. Trust me, you will want to stay hydrated.

One of the primary factors that drew me to this tour, as opposed to an airboat tour, is the leisurely pace and subdued noise level.

Having experienced the fast and loud nature of an airboat tour in the Everglades, where we needed earmuffs and communication was impractical, I appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere of this boat tour.

Here, the boat frequently slows down, providing ample opportunities for conversation and close encounters with wildlife. This type of experience is more appealing to me than the rapid pace of an airboat tour, though both can be fun in their own right.

As we navigated our way through the murky waters of the Old Pearl River, entering the swamp area, the scenery became increasingly beautiful.

Honey Island Swamp Tour

It was early March, and signs of rejuvenating greenery were beginning to emerge. Despite many trees still being dormant, the sight of cypress trees gracefully growing out of the water was undeniably beautiful.

Honey Island Swamp Tour Cypress trees

Our first alligator sighting came remarkably quickly.

Honey Island Swamp Tour alligator

For those eager to observe more alligators, a warmer visit might be preferable, as they tend to be more active, basking in the sun. According to the guides, optimal times would be the warmer months of summer and during the daytime as temperatures rise.

Honey Island Swamp Tour alligator

During our excursion, with temperatures hovering around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the alligators were not as active. Nonetheless, we encountered several of them, making the trip a rewarding and successful outing.

Our guide shared a wealth of information about alligators and the swamp, making it highly advisable to come prepared with questions. You’ll have the opportunity to learn numerous fascinating details about the ecosystem and likely be entertained as all the guides seemed to have a great sense of humor.

Surprisingly, the stars of the show were the raccoons, and they proved to be incredibly adorable.

Honey Island Swamp Tour raccoons

You might not expect raccoons in the swamps, but these creatures inhabit the trees. Several of them emerged to snack on pellets thrown out by the guides.

Honey Island Swamp Tour raccoon

Observing these charming animals climb down the trees and venture into the water was genuinely enjoyable. The raccoons became a highlight of the experience, and you’ll likely find it hard to get enough of their playful antics.

Honey Island Swamp Tour raccoon

We encountered a variety of snakes from different species during our tour.

It was truly impressive how skilled our guide was at spotting these snakes, especially considering their excellent camouflage among the vines. Despite their elusive nature, we managed to observe numerous snakes up close, likely encountering close to a dozen during our journey.

Honey Island Swamp Tour snake

Turtles were another common sighting, with red-eared sliding turtles being particularly prevalent. These turtles could often be found relaxing on logs, basking in the sun. While we came across several species, unfortunately, we didn’t spot any alligator turtles, which would have been a fascinating sight.

Honey Island Swamp Tour turtle
Honey Island Swamp Tour turtles

The Whiskey tree stood out as a noteworthy point of interest. This tree played a significant role in Disney’s film “The Princess and the Frog.” The film’s crew visited the swamp during filming to gather inspiration, and they chose this tree as the model for the one featured in the movie. It was fascinating to witness this source of inspiration amid the rich vegetation and wildlife.

Honey Island Swamp Tour whiskey tree

Exploring the housing along the river was a fascinating aspect of the tour, providing insights into how people live in the area. The guide shared astonishing information about the river’s crest during Hurricane Katrina. Some residents, including our guide, chose to stay during the hurricane, and hearing about their experiences surviving without electricity for several months was truly captivating.

Honey Island Swamp Tour river homes
Honey Island Swamp Tour river homes
Honey Island Swamp Tour river homes

As our journey through the swamps continued, we eventually started heading back around 11:00. Upon returning, we had the opportunity to visit the gift shop, which boasts a variety of intriguing items that would likely capture the interest of your kids and family members.

Notably, the alligator heads were popular items, available in various sizes, and reasonably priced, with some options costing less than $15.

Honey Island Swamp Tour river alligator heads

Final word

After experiencing this, I must say that taking a swamp tour when visiting New Orleans is an absolute must. The swamp surpassed my expectations in terms of beauty, and if you have any appreciation for the outdoors and ecosystems, you will undoubtedly enjoy this tour. Families with children will especially love seeing all the different animals, making it a fantastic outing overall. I highly recommend it.

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